Traditional Kwanzaa Food - Muhindi
Traditional Kwanzaa Food – Muhindi – Before we go there, you need to be briefed about Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is a seven day, secular festival that is celebrated every year from Dec 26 to January.
1. The Kwanzaa festival identifies, acknowledges and celebrates the African heritage of all the African diaspora around the world. This is not a religious festival and like I said earlier, it is a secular one which aims at strengthening the ethnic-cultural identity and values. The concept of this Pan African holiday was first developed in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga who is now Professor of African Studies at the California State University. He is also the Chair person of the National Association of Kawaida Organizations. Though Kwanzaa holds a deep and profound significance in the hearts of the African diaspora, not all observe it. For those who observe Kwanzaa, it seems to be an spiritual alternative to the Christmas season.
2. The word Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili phrase 'matunda ya kwanza', meaning first fruits of a harvest. Most of the elements of this festival are based on traditional practices of many African harvest festivals. The first fruits of the harvest usually symbolizes the positive results born after significant struggle.
3. Corn is a very important aspect of Kwanzaa in terms of African food. Corn is also known as Muhindi in Swahili and is a staple food in many parts of Africa. The life cycle of the corn is considered to be symbolic to the entire life cycle of humans. The stalk of the corn symbolizes the relationship between the parents and the children; and also between the ancestors and their descendants. So, during Kwanzaa, people keep corn cobs on a special mat. Each cob represents a child of the family. Families that have adopted children too keep the cobs on the mat in the good belief that parenting is a bond that can be formed even without blood ties. Families that have no children do keep a single cob signifying the bond that they share with their ancestors and parents.
Happy Kwanzaa y'all!