Fifth and Sixth Principles of the Nguzo Saba – Kuumba (Creativity) and Nia (Purpose)
As we have seen from the first article in this series, the meaning and application of these principles varies when you compare a community celebration for one week with a way of life that affirms each member of the community. Especially when that way of life or culture is diametrically opposed to what the community is experiencing. This is seen even more when you consider the fifth principle of Kuumba or Creativity.
During Kwanzaa celebrations, Kuumba is the day for the children to display their artistic creativity, be it in art, dance (most popular) or in designing the décor for the final day’s gathering. When you ask a child what Kuumba means to them, it will at some point include the statement, to leave an environment in a better condition than it was before you came. All of this is important for the children, but the deeper ramifications of what it means to be creative and how creativity can be applied to your environment is the gift that adults leave to the children.
We must learn how to be creative in all aspects of our lives to rectify the outcomes of a corporate/commerce/technological society that is out of control. Those outcomes are an overstressed, overmedicated population, and a contaminated planet. Not quite the gift we imagined giving, much less the gift our children look forward to receiving. So the call of Kuumba is asking each of us to think creatively about what we do to ourselves – what we put in and on our bodies; and what we do to the earth – what we need to survive and how to survive in harmony with nature. Creativity is also asking that we think about how we live, what we value, and how we manifest what we need to survive. It demands that we use creative thinking that may not be recognizable in any past societies, but that exudes a power that can persuade, manifest, and create; unlike the brute force that has been the norm for persuading, manifesting and changing. Kuumba is calling us to be visionary, imaginative, and creative beings.
This leads us to the sixth principle of Nia, my personal favorite! Purpose in an individual, community and national sense requires vision, imagination, and creativity to know one’s purpose, pursue one’s purpose, and achieve one’s purpose. In terms of a new way of living, purpose is determined, pursued, and achieved through the implementation of fundamental wisdoms that we do not value in our current society – ancestral relationships, universal consciousness, and ritual/magic. Once the work is done on an individual level to know and desire to pursue one’s purpose, it is up to the community to validate the individual work and use its considerable power to call into effect all that is needed to support the individual in achieving their purpose, including calling on the ancestors, and using collective ritual.
I was fortunate to grow up in a community that understood the importance of Nia. I was, because of my family history and something someone in the community saw in me, to be a teacher. Members of my family started early in my life, and around the age of 12, members of the community took every opportunity to help me see this as my purpose, and guide me in some of my life decisions. Although I do not teach children in schools, I am a trainer/facilitator and I design instruction to teach adults and children, to this day! Pretty powerful stuff, especially considering that through the years I have wanted other things for myself. I always had to ask myself, how I could be the most beneficial, where I could fit in. I have found that having Nia early in life gives you stability and the drive to achieve not just for yourself, but for humanity and to honor your ancestors.