The kinara, Swahili for candleholder, holds seven candles—three red on the left, three green on the right, and a single black candle in the middle—that represent the seven principles that are the foundation of the African-American celebration Kwanzaa. As a new candle is lit each day, families discuss one principle’s importance and how it fosters community amongst African-Americans.
The glass kinara represents a bridge spanning generations of African-American people, and a waterfall cascades behind it to symbolize how they all flow together. In this setting is a Kikombe cha Umoja (Unity Cup) signifying the gathering of family in celebration of a rich heritage. Behind the scene, a mirror invites the onlooker to see their reflection and contemplate what Umoja means to them.
Kwanzaa Setting was designed by Jonathan Rowe of Horseheads, New York, and the Rowe Family guided and assisted the Museum’s Hot Glass Demo Team in creating the piece. The collaboration grew out of discussions of Kwanzaa principles, African-American history, and the state of race relations in the United States. One key principle surfaced in those conversations as the focal point for discussions of family, community, and the issues at hand: Umoja, or “Unity.”