What is Kwanzaa? Do you know the 7 Principles?

Kwanzaa does not replace Christmas.

Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture. Celebrated from December 26th thru January 1st, its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most widely spoken African language.

NGUZO SABA(The Seven Principles)

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.

The Symbols of Kwanzaa:

Mazao (The Crops)-These are symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.

Mkeka (The Mat)-This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.


Kinara (The Candle Holder)-This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people — continental Africans.


Muhindi (The Corn)-This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.


Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles)-These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the matrix and minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.


Kikombe cha Umoja (The Unity Cup) This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.


Zawadi (The Gifts)-These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children

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