Youth Celebrate Kwanzaa

MacLaren youth celebrated African heritage by learning about a new principle each day for a week.

Youth at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility participated in festivities surrounding Kwanzaa from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

“Kwanzaa brings out the best of what it means to be African,” said Roderick Edwards, multicultural services coordinator. “It is a celebration of family, culture and community.”

Each day of Kwanzaa focused on a principle, using a word in the Swahili language, with activities surrounding that principle.

The first day was “umoja” or unity. This means to strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Day two focused on “kujichagulia” which is self-determination in English. This means how to define yourself, name yourself, create for yourself and speak for yourself.

The third day’s word, “ujima,” is translated as collective work and responsibility. This means to build and maintain the community together, taking on others’ problems as our own so we can solve them together.

“Ujamaa” means cooperative economics, and was the focus of the fourth day of Kwanzaa. This reflects the need to build our own businesses, control the economics of our own community and share in all its work and wealth.

“Nia” or purpose is the principle of the fifth day. It encourages us to look within to not only set personal goals, but also to choose goals that benefit our community.

The sixth principle of Kwanzaa in Swahili is “Kuumba,” which means creativity, and encourages us to do as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful than we inherited it.

The final day’s word was “imani” or faith, which means to believe with all our heart in our creator, our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and our righteousness and victory of our struggle.

The Kwanzaa celebration ended with a harvest meal.

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