Truth and History about Kwanzaa

Truth and History about Kwanzaa

Christopher Smith, Staff Writer

With the holidays approaching at a rapid rate, we’re all preparing for the days of Christmas or Hanukkah. But there’s one holiday that is often forgotten about. When people hear the word Kwanzaa, most people draw a blank.

“I thought that it was a Jewish holiday,” Anthony Trifficanti, senior, said.

“Isn’t that a religious holiday?” Randy Betancourt senior, said.

Others hadn’t even heard of it before. The truth and history behind it is rather interesting in fact and deserves respect.

Kwanzaa was created in 1965 by Maulana Karenga. Born in July 14, 1941 Parsonsburg, Maryland, he grew up practicing African traditions and honoring his heritage. He was inspired by the “first fruit” traditions of the East Africa as he grew up. When he turned twenty four he created Kwanzaa. His goal was to “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.”

Composing of seven principles (Represented by the seven candles on the kinara) Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles, which are: “Umoja meaning Unity: To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race. Kujichagulia meaning Self-Determination: To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves. Ujima which means Collective Work and Responsibility: To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together. Ujamaa meaning Cooperative Economics: To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together. Nia which means Purpose: To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness. Kuumba which means Creativity: To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. And Imani which means Faith: To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.”- According to

People celebrate Kwanzaa by decorating their houses with art and African clothing and putting fresh fruit around. Singing and drumming are customary as well. They meet with family and greet each other with Habari Gani? Which is Swahili for “What’s the News?”

Today many people who celebrate Kwanzaa also celebrate Christmas and New Years Eve, since Kwanzaa isn’t in fact a religious holiday. Lighting a candle for every day you celebrate it. Lasting from December 26 to January 1st, it’s a very rich and historical holiday that deserves respect and honor from its participants and bystanders.