Kwanzaa is a week long celebration observed by African-American and Pan-African communities. It begins on December 26 and ends on January 1st. It is a celebration of family, community, and culture.
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of African Studies at California State University. It was created as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African culture and historical heritage. It is based upon ancient African “first fruits of the harvest” celebrations and incorporates the strong work ethics, values and practices established within the African culture. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning first fruits of the harvest.
Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa focuses on one of the seven principles (or values) of Kwanzaa as established by Dr. Karenga. These seven principles are:
- Umoja (Unity): To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
- Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
- 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.
- Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
- Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
- Kuumba (Creativity): To do 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 (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.