KWANZAA: A WEEK LONG CELEBRATION, DECEMBER 26 – JANUARY 1

Day 1 of Kwanzaa is December 26, and we honor the principle Umoja which means unity.

Day 2, Kujichagulia the principle of self-determination: to define and name ourselves; to create and speak for ourselves.

Day 3, Ujima the principle of collective work and responsibility: to build build and maintain our community together and make our brothers and sisters problems our problems and then solve them together.

Day 4, Ujamaa the principle of cooperative economics: to build build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Day 5, Nia the principle of purpose: to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Day 6, Kuumba the principle of creativity: to do as much as we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

The African-American holiday of Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga. It was established to give Blacks the opportunity to celebrate their history and culture as an alternative to Christmas.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa, collectively are called the Nguzo Saba. Symbolically the 7 candles, or Mishumaa Saba, represent each principle. The black candle in the center is lit on day 1 (December 26) for Umoja unity; day 2 we light the red candle immediately to the right for Kujichagulia; today we light the green candle to the left for Ujima. Candles will be lit, in alternating colors through day 7.

RED = The blood that unites Black people
BLACK = The people themselves
GREEN = The abundance of Africa, the motherland.

Other items used during Kwanzaa are:
Mkeka – Straw placemat or basket
Mazao – Fruits and vegetables
Vibunzi/ Muhindi – Ears of corn, one for each child in the household
Kikombe Cha Umoja – Communal cup
Zawadi – Gifts
Ngoma – Drums

The Kwanzaa Karumu (feast), is typically hosted on December 31 and venues are decorated in African cloths/ prints or in the red, black and green palette.

A Suggested order of ceremony is:
Kukaribisha – Welcoming
Kuumba – Remembering
Kuchunguza Tena Na Kutoa Ahadi Tena- Reassessment and recommitment
Kushangilla – Rejoicing
Tamshi la Tambiko – Libation Statement

Below is an excerpt from the Tamshi La Tambiko written by Dr. Maulana Karenga:

“Our fathers and mothers came here, lived, loved, struggled and built here. At this place, their love and labor rose like the sun and gave strength and meaning to the day. For them, then, who gave so much we give in return. On this same soil we will sow our seeds, and liberation and a higher level of human life. May our eyes be the eagle, our strength be the elephant, and the boldness of our life be like the lion. And may we remember and honor our ancestors and the legacy they left for as long as the sun shines and the waters flow…”