You Have Christmas, We Have Kwanzaa

Yesterday many people across the country celebrated Christmas. I have been taking extensive coursework in African American Studies which has been an honor to do at the graduate level. Anyway I wanted to shed knowledge on "Kwanzaa" I want more African Americans to be aware of the cultural significance of this holiday. I believe we need to encourage our children to have an awareness and respect for this holiday.

What is Kwanzaa? An African American and Pan African cultural holiday that is centered around Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba in Swahili). The holiday is celebrated annually December 26th-January 1.

Why Must We ( Black ) People Recognize and Celebrated Kwanzaa? Kwanzaa is celebrated by many people of all racial backgrounds although it is important for people of African descent to take ample opportunity to preserve and celebrate cultural holidays. Kwanzaa seeks to enforce African cultural identity, provide a focal point for the gathering of African peoples, and to reflect upon the Nguzo Saba, ( The Seven Principles).

African Lineage: The first Kwanzaa was held on December 26, 1966 in Los Angeles, California. Although Kwanzaa began in America; the roots are traced back to African harvest festivities called "First Fruits" celebrations. The word Kwanzaa comes from the phrase "Matunda ya Kwanza" which means "First Fruits" in the Pan African language Swahili. This goes back to the ancient civilizations of Kemet later known as Egypt and Nubia.

Social and Political Milieu that led to the establishment of Kwanzaa: During the 1960s America witnessed chaos as marginalized groups especially African Americans began to fight for their Civil Rights. One flaw of the Civil Rights Movement was that many leaders did not publicly tell their followers to embrace their African lineage. Granted African American made some forms of social and political progress during the movement, but we lost more pieces of our identity because we became consumed with seeking validation from mainstream White America. In 1966, Dr. Maulana Karenga had a concern for African Americans, he was concerned about them taking the time to embrace their African identity. This holiday was established  to reaffirm and restore connection and appreciation for African culture.

What are the Seven (7) Principles of  Kwanzaa?
1) Umoja (Unity)
2)Kujichaguila ( Self-Determination)
3)Ujima ( Collective Work & Responsibility)
4)Ujamaa ( Cooperative Economics)
5)Nia ( Purpose)
6)Kumba ( Creativity)
7)Imani ( Faith)

Check out the documentary  The Black Candle


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