Celebrate: to perform a public sacrament or ceremony with appropriate rites
We don’t celebrate much any more. We don’t consistently mark our achievements, the changing of the seasons, our successes, or even the losses. This is because we don’t have sacraments to perform, we don't have much that is sacred or set apart from our regular routine. And, because of this, we don’t often come together as a group to share, perform our rites, or party with purpose.
In Rwanda, coffee farmers celebrate Umuganura, which roughly translates to Feast of the First Fruits.
They come together at the beginning of the season to talk about what has happened during the off-season and share their hopes, concerns, and inspirations for the coming season. They discuss how they will work together to overcome challenges and strengthen their communal bond.
Then, they celebrate.
They throw a party where they dance, sing, and share a Fanta or aguma gooma (banana beer) and singIkawa Numishinga, which means “Coffee is my vision.” Coffee growing is a communal vocation. Each farmer may have their own trees, but they tend to their trees in cooperation with other farmers. One cannot do it all alone…and cannot celebrate alone.
This reminds me of another group of people who celebrated — the Israelites in the Bible.
Showing Gratitude Through Celebration
In the Book of Deuteronomy, the Israelites were told that once they were released from generations of slavery, settled down, worked the land, and were finally able to reap what they had sowed, each person was to take the very first fruits — wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates — and go to the local priest to make an offering. They acknowledged that their ancestors were wanderers, were enslaved, and had been through troubles, but that they had made it. They had made it to their own land.
Once they gave the offering to the priest, did they walk away? No! The priest said that the farmers — the refugees and immigrants — were to celebrate and enjoy the bounty the Lord provided.
Now, if you are like me, I would think, “Let’s pay all the bills first; let’s set aside resources for retirement.” But, no, they were to take the first fruits, honor the fact that they had land and were not wanderers or enslaved any more, and celebrate not just themselves but their whole house, all of their employees and even the strangers in their midst, the refugees who were themselves on their own journey.
Enjoy a Free Cup of Coffee with Us Friday, April 29
Back here in the U.S., we just received a new container full of fresh beans from our Rwandan washing stations ready for roasting. The farmers we work with have started their new season and are celebrating, we’re celebrating, and we’d like to invite you to celebrate with us.
We invite you to come to one of our cafes in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, or Deep Ellum in Texas, bring your friends and family, and enjoy a free cup of freshly roasted drip coffee on Friday, April 29.
As part of our celebration, we will also be helping some modern day refugees from the Ukraine by raising donations to the World Central Kitchen, an organization that is first to the frontlines, providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises. You can join us by donating in-person at our cafes or online through our website.
Let’s celebrate this coffee and the good it does together!
Komera (Be Strong, Have Courage),
Jonathan D. Golden