Here’s What You Need to Know About Kwanzaa

A Kwanzaa celebration is held on Monday, Jan. 29, 2008, as people gather around a table set for the event. Today is the fourth day in the seven-day Kwanzaa celebration. Day four, Ujamaa, recognizes cooperative economics. A program to educate children about Kwanzaa by a local Kwanzaa committee is hosted at the Pauline Robinson Library in Denver, where children could sing and dance and then make a Kwanzaa Mkeka-a straw mat where the Kinara, a candleholder with seven candles, is placed. Kwanzaa is an African American holiday which is celebrated everyday from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. Kwanzaa is described as a festival with a cultural reaffirmation of a rich African heritage and emphasizes the the importance of working together. Kwanzaa is based on seven fundamental principles which are referred to as the Nguzo Saba. Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post (Photo By Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

By Ellen Chamberlain

December 24, 2020

Each of Kwanzaa’s seven principles has special meaning. Learn the meaning behind the Swahili words and how they can be applied to everyday life.

The Nguzo Saba: Kwanzaa’s Seven Principles

Umoja | Unity | Dec. 26

To strive for and maintain unity in family, community, nation, and race.

Kujichagulia | Self-Determination | Dec. 27

To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Ujima | Collective Work and Responsibility | Dec. 28

To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa | Cooperative Economics | Dec. 29

To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Nia | Purpose | Dec. 30

To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba | Creativity | Dec. 31

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 | Jan. 1

To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Here's What You Need to Know About Kwanzaa
A Kwanzaa celebration begins on Monday, Dec. 29, 2008 with a lesson about the holiday from left to right, Jawana Norris, Mari’yam Floyd, 18, and Kamaria Hakeem, 18. (The Denver Post Photo via Getty Images/Kathryn Scott Oslers)

Traditional Kwanzaa Symbols

Bendera | Liberation Flag

Represents Black people around the world, the struggle for freedom, and a prosperous future.

Here's What You Need to Know About Kwanzaa
Hawk Newsome, chairperson of the Black Lives Matter Greater New York, wears a Black Lives Matter sweater and holds a Pan-African Black Liberation Flag in front of a barricade with police officers at Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle. Photographed in the Manhattan Borough of New York on June 14, 2020. (Corbis Photo via Getty Images/Ira L. Black)

Mazao | Crops

Representing African harvest celebrations.

Mishumaa Saba | Seven Candles

Each representing the principles—or values—Black people should live by. There are three red, three green, and a single black candle in the kinara.

Mkeka | Straw Mat

Represents tradition and history; foundation.

Here's What You Need to Know About Kwanzaa
A traditional Kwanzaa table adorned with a kinara, umoja cup, fruits, and a gift.

Muhindi | Ear of Corn

Each ear of corn placed on the mat represents children living in the home or future children desired.

Kikombe cha Umoja | Unity Cup

A symbol of togetherness—both the principle and practice.

Here's What You Need to Know About Kwanzaa
Pictured, the Kwanzaa display in the Thomas’ living room features a wide array of symbolic items, such as the basket of fruit, and the corn and the cup. PHOTOG: Bill O’Leary TWP. (The Washington Post Photo via Getty Images/Bill O’Leary)

Kinara | Candleholder

Usually wooden, and representing Black people’s connection to the African continent.

Zawadi | Gifts

Like many other holiday celebrations, gifts are exchanged and represent the sacrifice and bond of parents, and their children’s achievements.

Here's What You Need to Know About Kwanzaa
A program to educate children about Kwanzaa by a local Kwanzaa committee is hosted at the Pauline Robinson Library in Denver, where children could sing and dance and then make a Kwanzaa Mkeka straw mat where the Kinara, a candleholder with seven candles, is placed. (The Denver Post Photo via Getty Images/Kathryn Scott Osler)

Author

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized

Politics

Local News

Related Stories
Share This