Kwanza starts this Tuesday, December 26and continues until Monday, January 1.
Kwanza is a relatively young holiday, celebrated in the US, Canada and parts of West Africa. Maulana Karenga, founded Kwanza in 1966 to celebrate African American culture & community. The holiday promotes the Seven Principles of African Heritage.
1) Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
2) Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
3) Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together.
4) Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
5) Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
6) 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.
7) Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Families celebrating Kwanza set up symbolic display: seven candles in a candle holder, vegetables, corn, a unity cup, and gifts on a mat. The house is often decorated with African art, colorful clothes like kentia, and fresh fruit. It's estimated that several million African Americans celebrate the holiday each year.
Photo by Christopher Myers, Wikimedia Commons