Kwanzaa is a symbol of a holiday held from 26 December to 1 January and should not be regarded as a substitute for Christmas or any other religious holiday. It is undoubtedly a holiday with spiritual elements and a time for Africans to celebrate their traditions and culture. Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday during which African Americans focus on values that can guide their lives. Kwanzaa is neither a religious nor a political festival. It is a celebration of cultural unity during which African people worldwide reflect on their ancestry, family and community.
Kwanzaa was conceived as a community celebration to work together to succeed. The Kwanzaa festival means the first fruits, the first products of the season. The founder of Kwanzaa, Maulana Karenga, established the seven principles at the centre of the festival, or Nguzo Saba.
No one knows how many people celebrate Kwanzaa. What is certain is that Kwanzaa has been adopted in an increasing number of homes throughout America and other countries in which people of African descent live since it began in 1966. It grew in the United States, Africa, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean, in the United Kingdom and other European countries.
Kwanzaa consists of seven principles:
Umoja: The first principle means unity in family, race, community and nation for African Americans.
Kujichagulia: self – determination and the definition of African Americans as people with their unique destiny.
Ujima: means collective work and responsibility– building a common goal for the African American community.
Ujamaa: the idea of a cooperative economy to support and construct African American enterprises.
Nia: This principle means a purpose that will stimulate a collective vocation in building and developing a community. The aim is to restore to African Americans a sense of their traditional grandeur.
Kuumba: refers to creativity that allows members of the community to leave the community more beautiful than when they entered the community.
Imani: means faith, not necessarily a religious faith, but faith in your race and your community.
Karenga defined it as a self – confidence. It’s a spiritual, but not a religious holiday in particular.