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WHAT IS KWANZAA??

By: The BE INSPIRED GLOBAL 4TH ESTATE - 12/26/2020

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KWANZAA is a week long celebration that honors African heritage in the African American culture. The commemoration is centered on gift giving and ends with a big feast; beginning on December 26th and concludes on January 1st.


The name KWANZAA, derives from the phrase "matunda ya Kwanza" meaning, first fruits in Swahili...


Founded by California State University's Africana studies professor, Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa was a response to the Watts Riots in 1965 as a catalyst to unify African American communities across the nation.

Photo Credit: Blackeoejournal.com

When forming the foundation of Kwanzaa, Dr. Karenga researched multiple African harvest celebrations to include those of the Ashanti tribe, as well as the Zulu tribe. The celebration often involves dancing, story telling, poetry, singing and eating.


The 7 day festivity is also accompanied by 7 principles that are to be discussed throughout the holiday activities to insure the understanding of the celebration. Each day a different principle is discussed, and each day a candle is lit on the kinara (candleholder). On the first night, the center black candle is lit, and the principle of umoja, or unity is discussed. On the final day of Kwanzaa, families enjoy an African feast, called karamu.

Dr. Maulana insists that the mission of African Americans, as it pertains to kwanzaa is "To know our past and honor it, to engage our present and improve it; and to imagine a whole new future and forge it in the most ethical, effective, and expansive ways."


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