Kwanzaa in America

Imani Jai Chisom & Habari Gani

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Kwanzaa is an African American cultural holiday that is celebrated by over 20 million people.  The holiday is focused around two fundamental themes: celebrating through our culture and heritage in one.  The second is values; what one should value and why one should value it. Dr. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966.  Dr. Karenga was searching for a value system African American’s could live by. The values are not based on religion, sex, or class but the actions that derived from African tribes, such as the Yoruba, Ashanti, the Ibo, and the Zulu.

Kwanzaa begins on the twenty-sixth of December to the first of January.  People often get the holiday confused with a ‘Black Christmas’, which it is not at all.  Kwanzaa is very similar to Thanksgiving; one gives thanks for their people, culture, family, past, and present with blessings for ones future. During this holiday there are seven principles; a day for each one: Umoja – Unity, Kujichagulia – Self-Determination, Ujma – Collective Work and Responsibility, Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics, Nia – Purpose, Kuumba – Creativity, and Imani – Faith.

Throughout the holiday one focuses on how to apply the seven principles tot heir everyday lives.  There are symbols that stand for ideas, which will help everyone grow as a people culturally. The first is Mkeka, or “Stra Mat”, which is the foundation of ones African history and traditions. The second is Misitumaa Saba, or “Seven Candles”, which  is the seven principles. The third is Kihara, which is ones origin ‘Africa’. The fourth is Muhindi, or “Ears of Corn”, which is the gift of our children. The fifth is Zawad, or “Gifts”, which is rewards of good deals and unity. The sixth is Mazao, or “Crops”, which gives one fruits of their labor.  And the last one is Kikombe cha Umoja, or “Unity Cup”, which is the unity of everyone’s purpose as a people.