During the seven days of Kwanzaa, African Americans focus on rededicating themselves to the Seven Principles (the Nguzo Saba) that form Kwanzaa. These principles are a guide for relating to the past, understanding the present, and living together as a strong community in the future. Kwanzaa is, first and foremost, a holiday dedicated to strengthening family bonds and building a dynamic and cohesive African-American community.
First Fruits (Matunda ya Kwanza)
An African-American scholar and activist named Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga first developed Kwanzaa in 1966. Dr. Karenga felt that African Americans needed a holiday that related specifically to the African-American community and that would encourage social change. Every day during the seven days of Kwanzaa, the question "Habari Gani?" is asked. It means "What's the news?" The answer is always one of the Seven Principles:
- Unity (Umoja)
- Self-determination (Kujichagulia)
- Collective work and responsibility (Ujima)
- Cooperative economics (Ujamaa)
- Purpose (Nia)
- Creativity (Kuumba), and
- Faith (Imani)
The language is Swahili, spoken predominantly in East Africa, but Dr. Karenga also combined Zulu and Ashanti traditions.
Harambee--Let's get together!
Homes are decorated in red, black, and green: red represents the bloodshed and struggle for freedom; black is the people, and the unity of the people; and green symbolizes the earth and the harvest.
Light the candles in the kinara, discuss the principle of the day, and settle down for an evening of feasting and fellowship.