Kwanzaa or Kwanza, secular seven-day festival in celebration of the African heritage of African Americans, beginning on Dec. 26. Developed by Maulana Karenga and first observed in 1966, Kwanzaa is based in part on traditional African harvest festivals but particularly emphasizes the role of the family and community in African-American culture. Each day is dedicated to a particular principle (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith), and on each day one of the candles on a seven-branched candelabrum is lighted. The celebration also includes the giving of gifts and a karamu, or African feast.
The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa [Nguzo Saba]
1) Umojo (Unity) To Strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
2) Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) To define ouselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
3) 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.
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.