Back in the day, Imani would host the most memorable Kwanzaa's. My brothers and I deep cleaned to lover’s rock and roots & culture as we had been conditioned. Day 5 of the celebration, Imani began early preparation of the karamu- large enough for leftovers. On day 6, once gathered friends and family recited the day’s principle, passing the unity cup and pouring libations for those who have gone before us. The calling of names were always long, a remembrance of those lost to age, dis-ease and violence. The most capable elder or child proceeded to light the candle of the day; the last green candle for Kuumba, creativity.
The boisterous laughter, spicy aromas and rich call of African drums have made a forever home within. No matter how weighted the reality of our daily existence, for these 7 days gathered in community, the heavens were open and freedom near.
Kwanzaa is not a substitution for any holiday, contrary to popular misconception, but a special time when Blacks in America gather with loved ones to remind ourselves of the 7 principles to which we strive to live by, and an honoring of the breath of our ancestors.
As I remember the best karamus, at the center of them I see a woman whose love for love radiates. Imani has always been able to gather friends and associates in celebration- even if there was tension between this one and that. Her creative touch made the space come alive; a beautiful woven mkeka, a queenly kinara still in use, a bounty of muhindi- often tri-colored, and the drummer positioned ready to call in the spirits of our honorable ancestors. The ceremonies are beautiful. Imani would make gifts for each guest- a zawadi of scented Ufagios with accompanying incense bundles. Around the kinara, we each would cite what the day's principle mean to us and children stood in the warmth of the elders. Sorrel, peanut punch, Wrey & Nephews and reggae music to carry the night through to the early morning; Kwanzaa is a week of jubilation and remembrance. A week of hope and recommitment. A week when the light of the sky beams with freedom.
This year, Kwanzaa will look different. We will use each day to welcome a few guests to Imani’s home. Her vegan lasagna and my hearty salad are on the menu. I will make carrot juice spiced with nutmeg, oat milk and irish moss if I can get my hands on it ahead of time. Candles are in the kinda and the kikombe cha umoja is ready to receive libations. We have many to pour drinks for, much to celebrate, and even more to look forward to in 2021.
Though different, the truth remains: “…if practiced throughout the year, ensure that Kwanzaa and the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, are not only subjects and references for a season, but also a lived and living tradition.” - Dr. Maulana Karenga
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Welcome to the first installment of House of Tafari Collection's blog, "Talk di ting!" Grab your cushion and get cozy as we open the doors into the journey of House of Tafari Collection, Boston artist Imani McFarlane and honest conversation on matters of slow fashion, cooperative economics, collective work and responsibility, and our visions for the age of Aquarius.
Published December 26, 2020 at 12pm
Author: Delmeshia Haynes