What is Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa 2016 – A long week of celebration is offered by African-American refugees to their heritage, held from December 26 to the 1st of January. Kwanzaa is a holiday in the United States observed since 1966.

Kwanzaa is anchored with seven principles created in 1965 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, chairman of Black Studies at California State University in Long Beach. The seven embodies the Black Americans’ celebration of their origins and to give recognition amongst them. The seven principles as are follows: Faith (Imani), Creativity (Kuumba), Purpose (Nia), Collective Work and Responsibility (Ujima), Self- Determination (Kujichagulia), Unity (Umoja) and Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa). Those are the philosophies, thoughts and practices of all African people.

In observance with the holiday, African-American families, including the young ones offer thanks and recognition to their ancestral domain. Their houses are decorated with colorful artworks, wearing their national or tribal costumes like kente and kaftans; and arranging fresh harvest fruits on their dinner table that symbolizes African idealism. Specifically speaking, some of the things a family must not forget are the seven symbols: Mazao (the fruits and vegetables) which symbolizes the work and the significance of the Kwanzaa, Mkeka (place mat) that expresses tradition, Vibunzi (the ear of corn) represents fertility, Mishumaa Saba (the seven candles) the celebration of fire and the sun’s power, Kinara (the candle holder) for the ancestors, Zawadi (the gifts) for rewards among the family and friends for their perseverance, achievements, determination and commitment; and lastly the Kikombe Cha Umoja (the unity cup), their own version of goblet, is passed among the families, friends and visitors in each household as a ritual. And at night, they tend to celebrate Kwanzaa in a festive way with their cultural music, dance and instruments.

For the non-African-Americans that observes the same holiday, they greet each other a warm ‘Joyous Kwanzaa’. During public gathering, cultural presentations; dance, songs and literature are held at the John F. Kennedy Center for performing Arts.

Meanwhile, the date of the celebration falls after Christmas and New Year, African- American Families have learned to incorporate the Christmas holidays with the Kwanzaa without breaking its significance, unlike before times it was consciously prohibited due to the principle of Self-Determination but with its popularity the tradition is now celebrated altogether.

The African-American community deserves a day of commemoration with their strong significance in the world’s history. It is important to give them the same respect their race, culture and heritage.

When is Kwanzaa 2016, 2017, 2015?

December 26 – January 1