Georgetown, Guyana – (December 26, 2018)Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, earlier today, joined with the members of the African Cultural Development Association (ACDA) at their Thomas Lands headquarters for the commencement of Kwanzaa Karemu Thanksgiving, a week-long African observance beginning on December 26 annually.

Kwanzaa is focused on seven main principles: ‘Umoja’ or unity, ‘Kujichagulia’ or self-determination, ‘Ujima’ which means collective work and responsibility, ‘Ujamaa’ meaning cooperative economics, ‘Nia’ representing a purpose drive society and ‘Kuumba’, which speaks to creativity and ‘Imani’ or faith.

During his brief address to the gathering, Minister Harmon said that the observation celebrates principles that every individual can embrace particularly unity in homes, communities and the country. He therefore sounded a call for a cooperative effort to embrace and promote national unity and harmony, noting that every Guyanese has a responsibility to do so.

“Unity is so important in our country today. Our Government acknowledges and recognises not only the principle of unity but all of the other principles on which Kwanza stands. We believe that this country of ours is for all of us, all the people of Guyana, not just one section and that is why we came into office with a promise of providing a good life for all Guyanese. We have the confidence that we will be able to deliver our mandate, our polices and provide a good life for all,” the Minister of State said.

Further, he noted that since his assumption to office, President David Granger has been advocating for a revival in the cooperative spirit so that every section of society can grow and develop, particularly small businesses. Minister Harmon said too that he is pleased that one of the main pillars of the celebration speaks to cooperatives and how much can be achieved through pooled resources and cooperation.

“We believe that the cooperative sector is the sector in Guyana that will be utilised to move our people from conditions in which they live to prosperity so I am happy to hear you talk about cooperatives,” he said.

The Minister of State also noted that issues which affect the lives and livelihoods of citizens are important to the David Granger led administration and therefore, the Government will do what it can to ensure that issues of access to education, national unity, equality, access to information and communication technology, quality social services and celebration of culture among others are addressed.

Kwanza Karemu was first introduced to Guyana in the 1970s by a group of African- Americans residing here. However, it did not become a part of the African- Guyanese calendar until 1992 when the then newly formed ACDA revived the celebration and held its first observance. As the celebration goes, before December 26, the first day of Kwanzaa, the entire house is cleaned. The home is then dressed in colours of red, black and green and African motifs are displayed along with other cultural articles.

On the morn of December 26, the entire family gathers around the Kwanzaa table and libations are offered to the creator and ancestors. Candles are lit and the family discusses their failures, successes and their achievements in fostering unity in the family and community over the past year. If anyone has exemplified this principle during the year, gifts are given. This ceremony is repeated with each principle being the center of discussion for the next seven days.

A community feast occurs on the seventh day and on this day, the entire community or organisation assesses its successes, failures and achievements of the Kwanzaa principles.

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