Social Policy

Kwanzaa’s Fifth Day Celebrates Nia, Purpose

Nia means Purpose

On the fifth day we think about the principal of purpose which is popularly defined as, “To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.”Our traditional greatness is dependent on each of our individual greatness. In order to unlock each of our individual greatness we must discover our individual purpose. Our purpose as individual purpose is dependent on our collective purpose. Everything is tied together when we are collectively dedicated to our collective purpose, pushing our community forward. For the ceremony the black candle is lit, then the left most red candle, then the right most green candle, then the 2nd red candle at the left hand side and lastly the next green candle are lit in the same sequence. While the candles burn members take a moment to discuss the fifth principle and share a sip from the Unity cup. The ceremony ends with extinguishing each of the candles.
During Kwanzaa I’ve taken time to visit young and old family members. While speaking to cousins I picked their brains asking about their education plans after school, many didn’t have defined goals set others had somewhat of an idea. I felt the same way during my upper class years in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do outside of going to college. I didn’t have a set major in mind or even a set school so I’m never shocked when young student don’t have a defined idea of what they want to do in the future, even when children do have an idea it usually transitions into something else with experience. The pressure we put onto our young people to have it all figured out is unfair. Instead of pushing them to embrace the talents they currently have and encouraging to discover new actives we discredit them for what we think they lack. This does them the disservice of making them feel like their behind when they’re actually right on track.
I realized while in college that as soon as I connected my passion for advancing my community with the subjects that I enjoy like law, media and writing; was when I was able to get closer to my purpose. Every single one of our young people should find themselves ignited by the opportunity to strengthen their families and community as a whole. For those that feel disconnected from their community, connected themselves to their families is one of the ways to bring us closer to nia. Every time that I come back home I take the time to visit my grandmother, my last living grandparent, my grandmother on my mother’s side is a very special relationship with me. I feel like the more that I learn about her life the more I learn about myself. As I mentioned in a previous article about my grandmother during Black History Month, she loves to read and write, watching my grandmother read countless books while I was growing up made reading look like a fun and exciting activity. Both of my grandmothers on both sides were writers, my maternal grandmother wrote novels as a pastime and my paternal grandmother wrote shorthand notes for the pastor’s sermons on Sunday. Knowing their gifts in writing and communication fueled my passion for writing as a young girl and continues to do so today.
Kwanzaa is the celebration of the community by identifying specific principles that bind as together as a whole be widening the perspective of each individual and their relation to the community. Nia generalizes purpose while specifying it. It everyones purpose to build, develop and restore the community, however the way we do so varies depending on our individual  gifts and talents. Its only when we activate those gifts to serve each other that we’ll activate our traditional greatness as a people.
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About Amani Sawari

I am a University of Washington alum, Class of 2016. I graduated with my Bachelors Degree in two majors: Media and Communications AND Law, Economics and Public Policy. It's a mouthful but it illustrates how I have a hard time doing only one 'thing'. I am a writer, poet, singer, songwriter and much more. I enjoy sharing my experiences and perspectives with those who are interested and I am a proud member of the black diaspora!
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