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History Of Kwanzaa

 

The sixties was a turbulent time, especially for African Americans. As a way of preserving African American culture, Dr. Maulana Karenga created a cultural holiday from December 26 through January 1.

In 1966 Kwanzaa was born out of a need for all African Americans, regardless of their religious beliefs, to come together and celebrate family, tradition and community.

Kwanzaa’s roots are derived from a Swahili term known as “matunda ya kwanza” or first fruits. It has been the focus of a seven day event which not only encompasses the African tradition but is based on the Pan-African language which is primarily spoken in Africa today.

Similar to New Years, Kwanzaa represents the passing of one year and the welcoming of a new year to come. It is a time of reflection in which African roots are observed much as they were during ancient times when African harvest or first fruit celebrations represented five functions which included: the reaffirmation or “ingathering” of people to bond together, giving thanks to the creator, recognizing and honoring ancestors, honoring cultural values and celebrating life as a family, a community and existence as a people.

In addition, within the Kwanzaa history are Seven Principles also known as Nguzo Seba which are part of the seven-day celebration. When African Americans reinforce their values rooted in their ancient culture.

To commemorate this special holiday, a Kwanzaa setting is placed in a central part of one’s home in which seven symbols are utilized to represent the values of the African culture and serve as a reminder of one’s commitment to family and community.

Kwanzaa is a time of reflection that is celebrated by African Americans worldwide. It is a time in which ancient traditions are revisited and the rich history of the African culture is renewed through the reassertion of family values and community. It is a holiday in which every African American is afforded the opportunity to acclaim their heritage and to reaffirm their commitment to the ancient bonds which serves to strengthen their own identity in particular and as part of the world community in general. 

In addition, within the Kwanzaa history are Seven Principles also known as Nguzo Seba which are part of the seven-day celebration. When African Americans reinforce their values rooted in their ancient culture.

The Seven Principles are as follows

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 brother's and sister's 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 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.

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.
 

 


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