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Producer Embraces Principles of Kwanzaa

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Producer Embraces Principles of Kwanzaa

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Producer Embraces Principles of Kwanzaa

Producer Embraces Principles of Kwanzaa

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NPR Producer Teshima Walker explains how she relates to the principles of Kwanzaa, an American holiday that pays tribute to the culture of Americans of African ancestry.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

So with the Mocha's and I, we had our say about Kwanzaa. Here's another take from TELL ME MORE's producer Teshima Walker.

TESHIMA WALKER: I listened to the Mocha Moms talked about how the rigors of Christmas Day leave them depleted of energy. Energy they need when it comes to time to celebrate Kwanzaa. Now I'm almost cool with that because I have my own Mocha Momma and I remember how the entire family, my daddy, sister and I relied on her to make the holiday sparkle.

So by the time Kwanzaa came to town or to my family's consciousness, I remember the scene in my home. My parents staring at each other trying to figure out what in the world this holiday was and whether or not the Walker family was going to celebrate. Well, they decided to try it.

Maulana Ron Karenga found the Kwanzaa in 1966. Kwanzaa is a Swahili word that means first fruits of harvest. There are seven principles called the Nguzo Saba. The holiday for all its ties to Africa, through language and ritual, isn't celebrated anywhere on the continent.

See, Kwanzaa was created as a holiday that pays tribute to the culture of Americans with African ancestry. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I haven't celebrated Kwanzaa since I left my hometown Chicago and it's been some years. But I enjoyed Kwanzaa because of what it meant to me. Black people created Kwanzaa. Yes, sticklers, I know black folks have one month, 28 days in February to tell America about the accomplishments of black people.

But Kwanzaa is different. It devotes one week black Americans to reflect on what is going on in our community. And if you consider the recent news of increasing teen pregnancy, high HIV-AIDS rates, and the large number of black children facing poverty, black people have a lot to think about and more work to do.

So, Michel Martin, can I just tell you that tonight I'm calling my Mocha Momma and asking her to pack my Kwanzaa kit. I've got a celebration to plan. It's time for me to rekindle those fires and practice the seven principles of Kwanzaa, not only for me but for my godson, William. Recently, my little sweetheart had his sixth week check-in with his doctors and he's doing fine.

I look forward to the day when he's older and I'm teaching him about the importance of black American culture and why we celebrate Kwanzaa. Each of the seven days has it's own principle. I'll call each day out and William will tell me its meaning. Umoja - unity, Ujima - collective work and responsibility, Ujamaa - cooperative economics, Nia - purpose, Kuumba - creativity, Imani - faith. Yay!

I'll clap and we'll dance and every year at about this time when his mocha momma is exhausted for making sure that William is Christmases sparkle. He can always count on his hot chocolate godmommy for our Kwanzaa tradition and celebration.

MARTIN: Teshima Walker is senior supervising producer for TELL ME MORE.

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