is a holiday celebrated by some African Americans
in late December, traditionally between December 26
and January 1
. Kwanzaa was invented in 1966
by Dr. Maulana Karenga
, professor and chair of the Department of Black Studies at California State University
, Long Beach
. Karenga is an author and activist who stressed the indispensable need to preserve, continually revitalize and promote African American culture. Dr. Karenga is chairperson of the Organization Us, founder and guiding spirit of Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa was established in the midst of the Black Liberation or Black Freedom Movement of the 1960s (see Black Power), and reflects that movement's concerns for Afro-American cultural groundedness in thought and practice (see 'Black Pride'), and the community and self-determination associated with this.
Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday but a cultural one, a syncretic festival, based on various elements of the first harvest celebrations that are widely celebrated in Africa, as in the rest of the world.
Each of the days symbolizes one of Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba):
- Umoja (Unity),
- Kuji-chagulia (Self-determination),
- Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility),
- Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics),
- Nia (Purpose),
- Kuumba (Creativity), and
- Imani (Faith).
Its name derives from the Swahili
phrase matunda ya kwanza
, meaning "first fruits". An additional "a" was added to Swahili "kwanza" so that the word would have seven letters, one for each of the seven principles.
Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture, Commemorative Edition, Los Angeles, University of Sankore Press, 1998