Christmas has come and gone and the celebration of Kwanzaa has begun. The holiday festival is defined by Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles. Each day of the festival is dedicated to a specific principle and marked by the lighting of a new candle on the kinara, a seven-branched candelabra. Beginning with Umoja (oo-MO-jah) on December 26th, people of African descent pay homage to the ancestors and to our roots while promoting unity in our families, in our communities, our nation, and among our race. There are six additional principles of kwanzaa that are celebrated in as many days ending on January 1st. Those principles are self-determination or Kujichagulia, collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economic (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani).
The festival’s name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits.” The celebration was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a black nationalist professor of Pan-African studies at California State University at Long Beach. Kwanzaa became popular in the 1980s and 1990s in tandem with the black power movement.
Decorate your home with symbols of Kwanzaa including
posters illustrating the seven principles, flags called Bendera, and a kinara with three red candlesticks, one black candlestick in the middle and three green candlesticks. Take time to research the celebration, gather friends and family members together to discuss the principles and how they may be fully exemplified beyond the course of the holiday, and find ways to employ the principles in the coming New Year.
For more information about the origin and celebration of Kwanzaa and how to start your own Kwanzaa traditions visit https://www.africa.upenn.edu/K-12/Kwanzaa_What_16661.html
About the authorSharon Fletcher Jones is a true Libra, an action-ist, and a budget fashionista. The Portsmouth, Virginia native is also an employment specialist with Goodwill Industries, a life coach and an associate editor at ONYX Magazine. Stacey’s mom (literally) has got it going on. Fletcher Jones’ personal mantra is “It’s the dash that counts.”