Kwanzaa. It’s an African American Holiday that spans the seven days after Christmas, from December 26th to January 1st. No, it is not a replacement for Christmas, but rather the celebration of a people who recall their ancestors throughout the centuries and across the African diaspora, and remembrance of those communal values we all hold dear. Kwanzaa celebrates the Nguzo Saba, or seven principles, that speak to who we are and who we should strive to be, our gifts, and our relationships with one another and God.
Day 1: Umoja OO–mo-jah (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
Day 2: Kujichagulia Koo-jee-sha-gu-lia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, & to create and speak for ourselves.
Day 3: Ujima OO-Jee-mah (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.
Day 4: Ujamaa OO-ja-mah (Cooperative economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Day 5: Nia Nee-ah (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Day 6: Kuumba Koo-um-bah (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.
Day 7: Imani EE-mah-nee (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Each of the seven days promotes one of the principles as family and friends gather to feast, fellowship and offer libations (pouring of life giving water while the names of ancestors are called out). There can be singing, and drumming and always, good things to eat. It’s serious and it’s fun.