PANAMA CITY — The meaning of nia, celebrated on the fifth day of Kwanzaa, is “purpose.” One local civil right’s organization challenged attendees to find their purpose during an annual holiday ceremony.
“Purpose is what drives us,” said Shelley Clark, advisor of the youth wing of the local chapter NAACP. “It’s to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our communities to their traditional greatness.”
Community members joined the youth wing of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to celebrate the seven principals of Kwanzaa — unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith — often said in the native East African language of Swahili.
Kwanzaa was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 and is observed from Dec. 26 to Jan.1.
“All of the Kwanzaa principals are for our day-to-day living,” Clark said, noting the Nguzo Saba, which means Seven Principals, are to be planted in individuals and applied collectively.
Throughout her childhood, Brittney Jackson was taught to celebrate Kwanzaa. As an adult, she keeps the tradition going.
“It really focuses on family and to spend time with family,” Jackson said. “The principals become a part of your life. It’s something I’m going to continue to do with my kids.”
During the libation part of the ceremony, water was poured into a plant to recognize efforts made by African and African-American ancestors in the struggle for freedom, democracy and equality.
Seven red, black and green candles stood in the candle holder called a kinara at the front of the room. And next to the kinara was a framed picture of Nelson Mandela.
The final pour of libation was in honor of the late South African leader and the incessant anti-apartheid resistance movement he led in his native land.
“(Mandela’s) recent passing has provided an opportunity for many people to become acquainted with who he was and what he did,” Clark said. “His legacy will become beyond what it was while he was living.”