Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nguzo Saba: The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa

Joyous Kwanzaa, or Habari Gani! (What's the News?)

Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday that runs from December 26 to January 1. It was first celebrated in 1966 to celebrate pride in African heritage and culture. The phrase "matunde ya kwanza" means "the first fruits of the harvest" in Swahili. Households decorate their houses with kente (African cloth) and family members wear brightly colored kaftans (dresses), daishiki (suits) and kufi (caps). Offerings of drinks (libations) are shared from a common cup, and Kwanzaa ends with a large feast for all the participants.

The kinara (candleholder) holds seven candles, with each candle representing Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Three red candles are set on the left, a black candle in the middle, and three green candles on the right. It's similar to a Jewish menorah, lit for Hanukkah.

The seven principles are: Umoja (unity), Kuchichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Working Together as a Community), Ujamaa (Working Together Prosperously), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). Each day of the celebration is dedicated to one of these principles and how a person can contribute to the community at large.

Habari Gani! :-)

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

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