Origin and Celebration of Kwanzaa
          Kwanzaa is an annual celebration held in the United States by African-Americans and other African descents or Africans to celebrate and honor their African heritage and culture. The Kwanzaa holiday is always one week long and is usually observed from December 26 to January 1. Although the celebration of Kwanzaa may differ from one African family to another, it is often characterized with songs, dances, gift giving, storytelling, drums, poetry reading and a feast (Karamu). The feast is held on December 31 and is usually made up of a large traditional meal.

Origin of Kwanzaa

          Kwanzaa is gotten from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means first fruits of the harvest. It was created in 1966 by a “Black Power” activist Maulana Karenga who is also known as Ronald McKinley Everett. He introduced Kwanzaa to be an African-American holiday, and to challenge the commercialism of Christmas. No doubt, Kwanzaa can be likened to the New Yam festival in Nigeria and Ghana and Thanksgiving in the United States and other European countries. Dr. Karenga specifically chose Swahili as the language of the festival because of the status and role it played in the Pan-Africanist movements in the 1960s.

7 days of Celebration

          Seven core principles are sacredly upheld during the celebration of Kwanzaa. These principles are called Nguzo Saba {the seven principles of African Heritage), which Karenga refers to as “a communitarian African philosophy” that helps in building cooperation and community among Afro-Americans. Each seven days of Kwanzaa are dedicated to one of these core principles. On each of the seven nights, in several African homes, a child would light one of the candles on the candleholder (Which always consists of seven candles) popularly known as the Kinara in this festival. The family would then gather and discuss the principle that is being upheld that day.
The seven core principles of Kwanzaa are stated below.
  1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create 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 hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
kwanzaa afrilege
         Apart from these principles, Kwanzaa also has seven celebratory symbols which represents ideal concepts and ethics in the African community. These symbols include:
  • Kinara (candle holder),
  • Mazao, (crops like vegetables and fruits),
  • Mkeka (placemat),
  • Mahindi (corn),
  • Mishumaa Saba (Seven candles);
  • Kikombe cha Umoja (unity cup); and
  • Zawadi (Gifts).





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