On Dec. 29, Kwanzaa celebrations were in full swing at Flossmoor Park with the lighting of the town’s kinara by children from St. Veronica’s Parish in Flossmoor to commemorate the fourth night of the seven-day holiday.
The theme for the fourth night, Ujamaa, means cooperative economics in Swahili. The celebration included a ceremony of prayer, song and educational speeches regarding the different components of Kwanzaa.
These “cooperative economics,” or the idea of sharing resources for the good of all people, were highlighted through the pouring of water out of the kikombe cha umoja, or unity cup in Swahili, one of the seven symbols of Kwanzaa.
In this ritual, water is poured into the ground as a way to give praise and thanks to God, honor elders and ancestors, and symbolize a promise to nurture the land that bears fruit, minerals and other natural resources.
During the pouring, participants are welcome to call out the names of their ancestors to commemorate their lives and contributions. Once libations are completed, “ashe” is called out, which translates to “so be it” in Yoruba.
To conclude the ceremony, “harambe,” Swahili for unity, was chanted seven times accompanying a pulling motion from the sky to symbolize the togetherness that this holiday brings among African communities.