Fun Fact Friday: Kwanzaa

Have ever wandered where Kwanzaa came from? It is not an African holiday but aspects are taken from several African Cultures.

Kwanzaa is celebrated by African-Americans from December 26th thru January 1st. Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community.

The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. 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.

#1 Unity: Umoja (oo–MO–jah)

#2 Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)

#3 Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah)

#4 Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah)

#5 Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH)

#6 Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah)

#7 Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee)

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