What Does Kwanzaa Mean ?
The word Kwanzaa comes from a Swahili term “matunda ya kwanza” which roughly translates as “first fruits”. This festival is celebrated to commemorate the famous harvest celebrations. Dr. Maulana Karenga established the Kwanzaa festival in 1966. He was the Chairman and Professor of Black Studies at California State University.
There was severe resentment and disunity among African-Americans after the Watts riots. Dr. Karenga wanted to get the community back together under one roof so that they could live in a peaceful and united manner. He, therefore, came up with a plan to establish a fruit/harvest festival. He was the Founder of the US Cultural Organization. He went through several African harvest traditions and celebrations. He meticulously combined different harvest festivals and established the Kwanzaa.
People celebrate this festival for seven consecutive days. The number seven is associated with the seven principals that are followed during this festival. Different families celebrate the festival in a unique manner. Drumbeats accompanied with singing, dancing are a common African ritual, and Kwanzaa is no different. Poems, stories or events are enacted in the form of a play or a dance with drumbeats and music. Every day, a child lights up a candle on the candleholder or Kinara. The lighting of one candle is associated with discussing the values and importance of one principle. There are 7 principles in total, namely:
- Umoja or Unity
- Kujichagulia or Self determination
- Ujima or Collective work and responsibility
- Ujamaa or Cooperative Economics
- Nia or Purpose
- Kuumba or Creativity
- Imani or Faith
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