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Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration held in the United States and in other western nations celebrating with African communities.  Every year Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 – January 1st honoring the African custom in African- American Community.

Kwanzaa Celebration

People light a Kinara – which is a candle holder with seven candles and distribute gifts to each other.  It was first celebrated in 1966-67 by its creator Maulana Karenga.

Kwanzaa means “first Fruits”, Karenga said the word Kwanzaa is extracted from the Swahili phrase.  Swahili is a Bantu language and the phrase he denoted is “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits of the harvest".

People celebrate Kwanzaa in their own way but they often include singing and dancing.  Everyone gathers at one place and celebrate this day by telling stories, poetry, playing African drums, and having a large traditional meal.  Given by its creator Maulana Karenga (generally called as Nguza Saba) Karenga mentioned that Nguza Saga or the seven principles of Kwanzaa are the best African practices and thoughts in continual give-and-take with the world.

The Seven Principles

  • Umoja (Unity): To do your best for and to preserve unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination):  To describe and label ourselves, in addition, to producing and voice for ourselves.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility):  To shape and preserve our community composed and craft our brothers' and sisters' difficulties problems our difficulties and to resolve them collectively.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics):  To maintain and construct our own businesses and to attain revenue from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose):  To make vocations collectively the constructing and rising of our community in order to reestablish traditional prominence.
  • Kuumba (Creativity):  Always do whatever you can, in order to make our tradition more gorgeous and valuable.
  • Imani (Faith):  To trust with all our hearts in our parents, our leaders, our teachers, our people,  and the morality and triumph of our struggle.

The symbols of Kwanzaa include mat (Mkeka), Mishumaa Saba (seven candles), a Kinara (candle holder), Muhindi (corn), mazao (crops), a Kikombe cha Umoja (unity cup) and giving shukrani (thanks) to African Ancestors, and Zawadi (gifts).  Other symbols include black, red and green flags (bendera), books and other African artwork which resemble the African culture unity and reinforcement.

How to Observe

Families, who observe Kwanzaa wear African cloths (kente), decorate their houses with African artifacts and fresh fruits,  which represent African tradition and culture.  Parents make their children to participate in the celebration to honor their ancestors.

The ceremony also includes music such as playing drums, performances by various artist, candle-lighting rituals, reading the African pledge and a feast (karamu).

Cultural exhibitions held at the John F. Kennedy Center include the Spirit of Kwanzaa, interpretive dance, songs and poetry and African dance.

Kwanzaa and its Popularity

According to the survey done by the National Retail foundation USA in 2004, it is found that 4.7 million people had planned to celebrate Kwanzaa.  In a 2006 speech Maulana Karenga mentioned 28 million celebrate Kwanzaa.  In 2009 the African-American cultural center had claimed 30 million people celebrated Kwanzaa.

Celebration has also spread across Canada, where their black Canadian population started celebrating Kwanzaa.  Similar celebration is also observed in Brazil.

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Homemade Musical Instruments

Some things you may have at home or might usually throw away. But you can make many interesting things with these throw away; and can recycle them to make great musical instruments that really work. After they're made, see what to do with them at bottom of page! Great Fun!!!

Drum Ideas

Things you need

  • Paper
  • Tape or glue
  • Cans - large coffee cans or any size
  • Any decorate paper
  • Crayons to color it up
  • Marker

Procedure to make a Drum

Cut a piece of paper and fit it around a Can with a plastic lid; you can use a large Coffee Can as it will work well or you can use any size of it. You can also use an empty plastic jug or wooden bowl turned upside down or metal pot. Once you fit the paper well you can decorate it using crayons & markers; or first you can make the paper look good with your designs and then fit it around the can using glue or a tape.

Bongo Drum

Cut a paper in two pieces and fit it around two cardboard oatmeal containers with lids. Now follow the same procedure to decorate the containers with a decorated paper or by making it unique with crayons and markers, and then attach the decorated paper around both containers with a tape or gum. Keep them aside to rest till the gum is all set and the containers are ready to use.

Now, set the containers side by side and tie them together using two long pieces of string or yarn. You need to tie one piece of string around the upper section of the container and the other around the lower section; then place a dab of glue under the string in multiple spots to make it hold in place. Now your Bongo drums are ready to play, Play your bongos by tapping on the tops with your fingertips.

Base Drum

This is going to be a very easy task, you just need to turn a cooking pan over and beat on the bottom of it with a wooden spoon.

Belt Drum

Collect a round box, such as a potato chip or an oatmeal box container. Now carefully make two small slits, about 2 inches apart just near the top of the box; and thread the box onto a child's belt or a shortened adult belt. And that way your belt drum is ready.

Once you are ready with your drums, it’s time for you to make drum sticks. Let’s look at simple ideas on how to make drum sticks.

Drum Stick Ideas

The best thing is to use your hands to tap on the drums, or a wooden spoon, a metal spoon, rubber spatula, whisk or a basting brush.

Take two unsharpened pencils with erasers and make drumsticks; or attach an empty thread spool on one end of the pencils and wrap a thick rubber band around one end of each pencil. Now it’s your turn to experiment with the variety of sounds and tones you can make.

Taping Ideas

Gather your friends while doing this activity and make all your friends tap together two wooden dowels. You can also put metal thimbles on each finger and tap them together. Or you can also use two metal or wooden spoons, two walnut shells, or two metal pot lids to tap.

Things to Scrape

Pancake flipper, metal grater, metal sifter or two pieces of sandpaper.

Things to Ring

Keys or set of metal measuring spoons, small set of wind chimes.

Things to Shake

Take a container of toothpicks, a container of nails or tacks or an envelope of flower seeds.

 

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