The African Canadian Heritage Association held its annual Kwanzaa Showcase on Dec. 7. Above, performers recite "The African Pledge". The first two lines are "We are an African People!! We will remember the humanity, glory and suffering of our ancestors."

A life without purpose is not worth living

And other principles of the Kwanzaa holiday explained during celebration

the world would be a better place if more people lived life with nia.

The African Canadian Heritage Association (ACHA) held its annual Kwanzaa showcase at the Warden Woods Community Centre on Dec. 7 to celebrate and demonstrate the seven principles of the holiday.

This year’s central theme is nia, meaning purpose.

“[Nia] is one of the seven principles — it is a reflection of not losing sight of maximizing our lives to be the best African children and producing the best possible way to make the world a better place,” said Michael Charles, vice-president of ACHA.

Tichaon Tapambwa // Scarborough Observer
Eric and Emily Wickham start the event by performing the “libation”. The ritual requires the pouring of a liquid (water) as an offering to the memory of those who have died. (Tichaon Tapambwa // Scarborough Observer)

Kwanzaa is a week long festive celebration, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, giving those of African descent a holiday that celebrates their traditions and cultural heritage. Maulana Karenga, an African American leader, began the holiday in 1966.

There are seven principles honored each day of the week. Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperation), Kuumba (creativity), Imani (faith), and lastly Nia.

Besides honouring one’s culture, celebrants also remember the struggles of their ancestors.

“It’s important that we don’t lose our heritage and it’s also important that we don’t lose our culture. Its imperative that we uphold the values that make us who we are and honor those that came before us,” Charles said.

Tichaon Tapambwa // Scarborough Observer
The ACHA held a moment of silence for Nelson Mandela and the work he has done for the world. “We honour the struggles of our elders and ancestors and also show the appreciation they have done,” Charles said. (Tichaon Tapambwa // Scarborough Observer)

This is apparent with the recent passing of peace advocate, Nelson Mandela. The event held a moment of silence in his memory.

“The community appreciates the work he has done on the behalf of African people. The effects of the contributions he has done is not only felt in Africa but also around the world,” Charles said. “Kwanzaa helps us honuor his legacy and celebrates others that stood beside him.”

Mandela was remembered for having lived a life with purpose: fighting apartheid in South Africa.

But even in Toronto examples can be found of individuals trying to live a meaningful life.

Zakiya Tafari is the outreach specialist for the organization, Young and Potential Fathers (YPF), which encourages positive role models for young fathers.

“We deal with a lot of young men in our space that don’t know what their purpose in life is and unfortunately for some, it’s not until they are much older that they start to understand and embrace it,” he said. “Sometimes they think about how much more that could have been done earlier. ”

Tafari elaborates on his own purpose.

“My biggest purpose is to be an example to others. African culture was always apart of me and because of that it was weird to be afrocentric but one of my missions is to show that you can still be up to date with pop culture but still represent who you are,“ he said.

The organization is having a Kwanzaa Celebration on Dec. 20 at the Ujima House, 1901 Weston Rd. The event is held in conjunction with the Redemption Re-integration Services.