African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa, a harvest festival. Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 wanted to unite the African Americans after the turbulent Watts riots. He came up with an idea to unite the black community.
Today, Kwanzaa is given a national holiday status in America. It is probably one of the very few festivals celebrated by people belonging to any religion. It does not promote any religious principles but propogates moral principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose and faith.
Listed below are some interesting facts about Kwanzaa:
- Dr. Maluana Karenga established Kwanzaa in 1966 to unite the black community.
- The festival derives its name from the Swahili word “matunda ya kwanza” which translates as “fresh fruits”.
- It is celebrated for seven days from December 26 to January 1 every year.
- Seven candles are lit on seven consecutive days. These candles are placed on a candleholder called kinara, which in turn is placed on top of a straw mat called mkeka.
- The festival is represented by three different colors. Black signifies the skin color of the people, red symbolizes their struggle and green signifies hope for the future.
- A unity cup called kikombe cha umoja is also placed on the mkeka. It is used to pour tambiko as a tribute and remembrance to the ancestors.
- Even the mazao (crops) are placed on the mkeka along with other African objects. This is to remind people of their African roots, cultures and traditions.
- The first Kwanzaa stamp was launched in 1997.
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