Kwanzaa is a holiday celebrated by the Western African people in the United States and other countries. It is a week-long holiday which honors African heritage in the Americas. It is to celebrate the African-American culture with feasts and gift giving. The festival was created by Maulana Karenga and has seven core principles. The first time Kwanzaa was celebrated in 1966-67.



Kwanzaa Image

When is Kwanzaa 2017?

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Kwanzaa 2017 begins on December 26th, 2017 and ends on January 1st in the year of 2018.

What is Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa was the first holiday specifically for African-Americans created by Maulana Karenga in 1966. Kwanzaa comes from Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means first fruits of the harvest, although the Cultural translation is “first fruits.” Kwanzaa is not just a Western African holiday, but it is a Pan-African making it a Pan-Africanism holiday. The sign of this is the choice of the word Kwanzaa from Swahili which is an East African language. Most trade slaves were brought from West Africa to the America.

Kwanzaa History

Kwanzaa has its origin in the 1960s black nationalist movement. The black nationalist movement was to reconnect African Americans with their African culture and historical heritage. The idea was to unite all in meditation, learn African traditions and the Nguzo Saba. Nguzo Saba are the seven principles of the African Heritage.

Happy Kwanzaa

Happy Kwanzaa

Happy Kwanzaa

Karenga said the seven principals is the ideology that of the family unity and responsibility of the individuals towards the community which is the African Philosophy. It was an essential belief to revolutionaries. Karenga believed Cultural Revolution given direction, purpose, and identity. Kwanzaa has then seen a celebration of Family, Culture, and Community and not an alternative to any religion or religious holiday. Many African Americans celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas.

Principles and Symbols

Kwanzaa commemorates the Nguzo Saba or the seven principles of Kwanzaa. The seven principles are the “best African thoughts in continuous exchange with the world.” Below are the seven principles and meanings of the principles of Kwanzaa. Each day of the holiday is dedicated to one principle.

Sr.No.Principal Meaning Image
Umoja Symbol

Umoja Symbol



3UjimaCollective Work and Responsiblity
Ujima Symbol

Ujima Symbol

4UjamaaCooperative Economics
Ujamma Symbol

Ujamma Symbol

Nia Symbol

Nia Symbol

Kuumba Symbol

Kuumba Symbol

Imani Symbol

Imani Symbol

Kwanzaa Symbols

Umoja stands for Unity, It means unity in the community, nation, race and family.

It means Self-Determination, which means to be able to speak for ourselves as well as define ourselves.

Ujima – It reflects Collective Work and Responsibility, this defines looking for one another. Build the community together and make others problems like yours to solve them together.

Ujamma – It stands for Cooperative Economics, which means build an economic system to profit together by building own stores, shops, and other businesses.

Nia – It conveys purpose, it means to bring our people to the traditional greatness by common vocation to build and develop our community.

Kuumba – It signifies Creativity, which conveys to work as much as we can in the way we can to make the community beautiful and beneficial.

Imani – It indicates faith, which expresses to believe our people full heartedly. It also means to believe in our leaders, our parents, and our people, their righteousness and victory of struggle.

Kwanzaa symbols

Below are the symbols to celebrate Kwanzaa Festival

  1. Mkeka – A mat on which all symbols are placed on it.
  2. Kinara – A candle holder
  3. Mishumaa Saba – Seven Candles
  4. Mazao – Crops
  5. Muhindi – Corn
  6. Kikombe cha Umoja – Unity Cup to give thanks to African Ancestors.
  7. Zawadi – Gifts

Other symbols are Nguzo Saba posters and bandera a flag with black, red and green color. Also, African book and art crafts are displayed to show the value of African culture. It also shows the contribution of the African people in building and reinforcement of community. Corn is the key decoration symbol and for dining as well.

Kwanza Observance and Principles

African American households celebrate Kwanzaa with arts, colorful clothing and wear kaftans by women. Fresh fruits which symbolize the African Idealism. A common tradition is to respect ancestors and involve children in celebration. Liquid drinks are offered in the same chalice which is called Kikombe cha Umoja. Many non-African- American also celebrate Kwanzaa. A common greeting use on the festival is “Joyous Kwanzaa.”

During Kwanzaa, drumming and music are played. Other celebrations include reading the African pledge, African principle of the day, Principle of Blackness, a candle-lighting ritual, artistic performance, Image of Pan-African colors and finally a feast which is known as Karamu. A common greeting during the days of Kwanzaa is Habari Gani? Which means “How are you?” in Swahili.

Kwanzaa Festival
Western African people,United States
Starting on
December 26, 2016
Ending on
January 1, 2017
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