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10 a.m. REL 217

September 27, 2003


Kwanzaa is a unique African American celebration with focus on the traditional values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self improvement. Kwanzaa is not political or religious and despite some misconceptions it is not a substitute for Christmas. Kwanzaa is traditionally celebrated December 26 through January 1 with each day focused on Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles. The term Kwanzaa is derived from the Swahili phrase "matumda ya kwanzaa," which means the first fruits of the harvest. Kwanzaa is rooted in the first harvest celebrations practiced in various cultures in Africa. Kwanzaa seeks to enforce a connectedness to African cultural identity, it also provides a focal point for the gathering of African peoples, and to reflect upon the seven principles.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa are Umoja, which stresses the importance of unity and togetherness for the family and community; Kujichaguliaa, which says self-determination to make decisions that are in the best interest of families and community, Ujima, calls for collective work and responsibility on our parts. Ujamaa is the cooperative economics which is for the mutual strength and advancement of the community. Nia's purpose is to encourage us to look with in ourselves and set personal goals that will benefit the community. Kuumba makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community. Lastly, Imani is based on our faith and draws upon the best in ourselves and helps us strive for a higher level of life for human kind, by affirming our self worth and confidence in our ability to succeed.

Kwanzaa was born out of the whirlwind of political and social changes of the sixties decade. It was represented one of many eras during which African Americans struggled for freedom and self identity, with the creation of Kwanzaa a new way of life was recognized by African-Americans during a time when they needed to be as strong and together as possible.

Kwanzaa is celebrated by using certain items or symbols such as a Kinara (candle holder), Mkeka (place matt), Mazoa (crops), Kikombe Cha Umuja (communal unity cup), Mishumaa Sada ( seven candles, one black, three



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