Kinara’s Children: Everyday Heroes are a series of illustrations and stories based on the 7 principles of the Nguzo Saba, the underlying basis of the Kwanzaa holiday. Each principle is represented by a character who embodies these principles, Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Kuumba, Nia, and Imani. Aimed at a young audience, it lies somewhere between picture books and comics but it’s not your typical superhero group. Each character possesses amazing skills based on hard work and determination. Eventually they’ll come to learn why they’ve been brought together and the awesome power of the collective.
UMOJA is the wife of Kuumba and mother of Nia. The most important and demanding job there is, Umoja’s duties as mom go 24/7/365. Though she only has one biological child, she acts as surrogate for all the kids and young folk on the block. Her heart is big enough to embrace them all. Umoja acts as historian and peacekeeper of her extended family. She knows who’s related to who, who’s going with who, and who just needs to get going.
• (Unity) To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
Our resident bookworm, KUJICHAGULIA, prefers to be called Kuji. Smart as a whip and deep as the ocean, Kuji is all about the facts Jack, and she’s got a lot of em’. History is her forte, but if the information has been written down she pretty much knows all about it. Debate Kuji? Don’t even try it. She’ll quote you chapter and verse. With a photographic memory and a genius IQ she spits knowledge like a viper. Known to leave challengers stuttering and slobbering like babies.
• (Self-Determination) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
UJIMA ain’t scared! He’ll take on any challenge, any opposition without regard for the consequences. Through his organization “Habitat for the Hood,” Ujima renovates abandoned homes and creates urban gardens and playgrounds on empty lots. He can fix or build just about anything and will gladly lend a hand for the benefit of his community.
• (Collective Work and Responsibility) To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
UJAMAA is all about the business. He can turn 50 cents into 50 dollars in a matter of minutes. Shrewd and clever, Ujamaa has the gift of gab and persuasion. He also possesses a keen, analytical mind that makes him a whiz with numbers, programming, and economics. Yeah, he’s just a kid, but he’s already spreading the wealth by employing his schoolmates and creating opportunity in his community.
• (Cooperative Economics) To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
“I’m not a baby, I’m NIA!” she’ll say if you don’t come correct. Precocious, energetic and curious as a cat, Nia is Umoja and Kuumba’s pride and joy. Look for her. . . she’s gone, turn around. . . she’s underfoot. Nia always keeps you guessing. A tabula rasa, she soaks up all she sees and hears. Her curiosity gets her in trouble her smile gets her out. One day the adults may be able to put one over on Nia. . . . not today!
• (Purpose) To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
KUUMBA is an artist, musician, husband to Umoja and father of Nia. He always knew that a life in a cubicle under fluorescent lights was not for him, so he’s dedicated his life to the creative arts. There’s not a medium he can’t art in nor an instrument he can’t play. He can’t stand a blank surface or quiet space so he fills his community with color and sound.
• (Creativity) To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
IMANI is cute and she knows it. But don’t hold that against her. They say beauty is only skin deep, look beneath the surface and Imani is lovelier yet. She can see the potential in everyone she meets and she can shine a light so they can see it too. Maybe there IS something in that crystal ball of hers. The future? The truth? The incredible legacy that our ancestors have provided for us? She’s heading towards a bright and glorious future and taking us with her.
• (Faith) To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Many thanks to Maulana Karenga the creator of Kwanzaa and the Nguzo Saba.