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African American Culture Celebrates the Principle of Creativity - Kuumba

Updated on September 21, 2017
janshares profile image

A creative writer at heart, Janis was first published at age 11. Most of her poems express core issues of love, loss, trauma, and healing.

The Creativity of Kuumba is Innovative, Bold and Colorful

African American culture embodies boldness and vivid color, expressed creatively in the arts and sciences, literature, music, cooking, dance, entertainment, business, architecture and the social sciences.
African American culture embodies boldness and vivid color, expressed creatively in the arts and sciences, literature, music, cooking, dance, entertainment, business, architecture and the social sciences. | Source

The Kwanzaa Principle of "Kuumba" Means Creativity

Creativity is a universal concept to which all cultures around the world can relate. Our creativity defines our outward expression of uniqueness, our diversity and our individuality as human beings. During the last week of December, many African Americans in the United States celebrate Kwanzaa and its seven principles, one of which is creativity.

Initially billed as the first African American official holiday, some segments of the African American population choose to celebrate Kwanzaa as an alternative to the traditional Christmas holiday. On the sixth day of the 7-day observance, the principle of creativity, referred to as Kuumba, is celebrated. This principle is featured in this article.

Celebrating Creativity With Raised Hands

African Americans celebrate their creativity with joy and exuberance, giving back to their communities and making the world a better place.
African Americans celebrate their creativity with joy and exuberance, giving back to their communities and making the world a better place. | Source

What is Kwanzaa and its Seven Principles

Kwanzaa, which means "first fruits of the harvest," was conceptualized in the mid 1960s by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Black Studies at California State University and an activist in the Black Nationalist Movement. His vision and purpose for Kwanzaa was for African American people to acknowledge the culture, values, and principles of their African heritage and to celebrate those principles for seven consecutive days, from December 26th to the 1st of January. Dr. Karenga felt very strongly about instilling a sense of ethnic pride and positive self-image among Black people in order for them to be successful and thrive in their communities.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa are represented through activities and rituals among family, friends, and community groups during the 7-day period and applied throughout the year. The objective is to strengthen bonds, build unity, enhance cultural identity, and increase economic growth in the Black community.

The group of seven principles in Swahili is called Nguzo Saba. Each principle is celebrated for one day and incorporated in daily life and interactions within the community. They are as follows:

  • Day 1: Umoja - Unity
  • Day 2: Kujichagulia - Self-Determination
  • Day 3: Ujima - Working Together
  • Day 4: Ujamaa - Supporting Each Other
  • Day 5: Nia - Purpose
  • Day 6: Kuumba - Creativity
  • Day 7: Imani - Faith

To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

— Dr. Maulana Karenga

Creativity of Kuumba Builds African American Communities

Members of the community are expected to work together for enhancement and growth.
Members of the community are expected to work together for enhancement and growth. | Source

A Poem for Kuumba: Imagine, Create, Build, Beautify

The premise behind the sixth principle of Kuumba is for African Americans to creatively enhance and improve their communities, leaving it better than it was before for the next generation. The following poem was created for and recited on the sixth day of a Kwanzaa gathering in Washington, DC. It attempts to embody the unique culture and energetic expression of a people of African descent.

"Kuumba Chi"

My chi, my chi, my Kuumba chi
Driven by God's love
Pushed forth by unique ancestral spirit
Circles within me

The raw, uninhibited flow of chi
Pours out of me
Without boundary

I see chi in all of we
Limitless movement inside
It grows, it weaves where it abides
Melding together as it takes form

The voice, the pen, the feet, the brush
The fingers, the hips sway
The word, the song, the dance, the frame
The spinning wheel creates

We present our Kuumba chi through our gifts
Individually wrapped as our own
Impossible to copy, infinite in kind
As we debut at show time

Our curtains draw back
Exposing the stage
We are not afraid

As Kuumba chi makes its entrance
It puts smiles on faces, warms hearts
And beautifies our community and the world

My chi, my chi, our Kuumba chi
Let's me, be me
And we, be we

[JLE Copyright 2007]

Celebrating Kuumba - Creativity

Other Cultural Traditions During Holiday Season

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© 2017 Janis Leslie Evans

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    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 9 months ago from Washington, DC

      Yes, the picture is stunning. Thank you for taking the time to read the poem. I appreciate your visit.

    • bodylevive profile image

      BODYLEVIVE 9 months ago from Alabama, USA

      I love the poem and the beautiful first picture. I'd like to have that on my wall.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 10 months ago from Washington, DC

      You're welcome, AliciaC, glad you liked it. Thanks for taking the time to visit.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 10 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for sharing a very interesting and informative article, Jan. I love your poem.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 10 months ago from Washington, DC

      Thank so much, Jodah, for reading this hub. It has become a very special time of year. Glad you found it interesting. I appreciate the comment. It felt so good to write again after a long hiatus.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      What a well written and informative hub, Jan. I have never heard of Kwanzaa or Kuumba before so I found this very interesting. Good work.