Wednesday, December 26, 2007


This is one of the two non-religious holidays that are celebrated today.

Kwanzaa (or Kwaanza) is a week-long festival observed from 12/26 to 1/1 each year, primarily in the U.S. It honors African American heritage. It was created by Dr. Ron Karenga, a scholor and social activist, in 1966.

Dr. Karenga calls Kwanzaa the African American branch of "first fruits" celebrations of classical African cultures. The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza", meaning "first fruits". Kwanzaa was established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of "African traditions" and "common humanist principles."

Kwanzaa celebrates Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) which comprise Kawaida, a Swahili term for tradition and reason. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the principles:

  1. Umoja (Unity) To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together.

  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

  5. Nia (Purpose) To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

  6. Kuumba (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.

  7. Imani (Faith) To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their households with objects of art, colorful African cloth and fresh fruits that represent African idealism. It is customary to include children in ceremonies and give respect and gratitude to ancestors. A ceremony may include drumming, music, libations (generally shared with a common chalice), readings, candle lighting, performance, discussion of the principle of the day or a chapter in African history, and a feast (Karamu).



No comments:

Post a Comment