Kwanzaa, derived from the Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza” meaning “First Fruits,” was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, California, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community. He founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa.
Any Special Traditions?
Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans.
(UNITY) –To Strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
(SELF DETERMINATION) –To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves rather than to allow others to do these things for us.
(COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY) –To build and maintain our community together to make our sisters and brothers’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
(COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS) –To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
(PURPOSE) –To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
(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 when we inherited it.
(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 symbols include a decorative mat (Mkeka) on which other symbols are placed, corn (Muhindi) and other crops, a candle holder kinara with seven candles (Mishumaa Saba), a communal cup for pouring libation (Kikombe cha Umoja), gifts (Zawadi), a poster of the seven principles, and a black, red, and green flag. The symbols were designed to convey the seven principles.
Listen to this awesome Kwanzaa song here: Link
Fast Fact: The colors of Kwanzaa are a reflection of the Pan-African movement representing “unity” for peoples of African descent worldwide: Black for the people, red for the noble blood that unites all people of African ancestry, and green for the rich land of Africa.
Celebrities who celebrate(d) Kwanzaa: Dr. Maya Angelou (Author and Poet), Oprah Winfrey (TV Network Owner and Producer), and Jim Brown (American football player)
When is it?
In 2014 Kwanzaa is celebrated from: Friday, December 26th –Thursday, January 1st
For more information visit here: Link
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