5 Kwanzaa Traditions


Day of Meditation

Kwanzaa celebrants spend New Year's Day as so many people do around the world -- with a day of intense focus on meditation, self-analysis and renewal. Jan. 1 is the final day of Kwanzaa, known as the Day of Meditation (siku ya taamuli), and the principle for the day is imani (faith). Dr. Karenga noted that, in the tradition of the Akan people of Ghana and the Ivory Coast, Jan. 1 can also be called a Day of Remembrance or Day of Assessment.

As in the karamu feast the night before, there is an aspect of ancestor tribute to the Day of Meditation. Celebrants are primarily called to reflect on themselves, but a central concept of Kwanzaa is that you cannot know yourself without knowing where you came from. To understand the self, you have to pay homage to your heritage and understand your role in your community.

The main task for the Day of Meditation is to contemplate the three kawaida (tradition and reason) questions and answer them honestly:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Am I really who I say I am?
  3. Am I all I ought to be?

The Odu Ifa meditation is recited as an aid to this self-reflection and contemplation:Let us not engage the world hurriedly. Let us not grasp at the rope of wealth impatiently. That which should be treated with mature judgment, Let us not deal with in a state of anger. When we arrive at a cool place, Let us rest fully; Let us give continuous attention to the future; and let us give deep consideration to the consequences of things. And this because of our (eventual) passing [source: Official Kwanzaa Web Site].

And with the end of the Day of Meditation comes the end of Kwanzaa. The hope is that the renewed sense of self, heritage and community will last throughout the coming year.