An annual celebration of African-American culture, Kwanzaa, lasts from the day after Christmas (December 26) until the first of the year. The holiday was originally observed in 1966 and was developed by activist Maulana Karenga based on customs associated with African harvest festivals.
The celebration of the seven principles, which are represented by the seven candles, is one of the most significant aspects of Kwanzaa. Kujichagulia (self-determination) and Umoja (unity).
The word “Kwanzaa” is Swahili and comes from a phrase that means “first fruits,” and much of the vocabulary used during Kwanzaa is Swahili. Swahili is one of the most extensively used languages in Africa, according to Mohagani Magnetek.
Kiswahili was historically and culturally used as a commerce language between central Africa, the west, the south, and the north when everyone was in the same region, according to Magnetek. So it became one of those key languages as this trade language evolved.
In order to unite African Americans as a community and give them a chance to commemorate a tradition that had been stolen from them years earlier, Dr. Karenga initially started the holiday in 1966.
According to Edward Wesley, chair of Shiloh Community Housing Inc., “He developed this because many people knew that our culture was outlawed from being practiced in America, and we lost a lot of it.”
The name of this holiday and its seven daily principles were discovered by Dr. Karenga through his research. The first day, Umoja, focuses on achieving and upholding harmony among the family, community, and country.
Wesley stated that although “we are all individually brought on this globe, it is intended for us to work together.” And if you don’t, the earth will be out of balance.
The remaining six days, which are Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective labour and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economy), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani, all have various connotations (faith). The holiday involves values that should be observed every day of the year, not only for one week each year.
Shiloh Community Housing, Inc. President and CEO Shenee Williams stated, “I celebrate all the values all year because I think that’s vital.”
Williams claimed that due of her faith in Christ, faith is her favorite day and added that she thinks faith is necessary to uphold all the tenets. Faith and togetherness are the last and first principles, respectively, for a very specific reason, according to the official Kwanzaa website. The most vital job cannot start without unity, and it cannot continue without trust.
Kwanzaa, which is culturally based, was never intended to take the place of other festivals. Kwanzaa is supposed to be a complement to religious observances rather than a substitute for them, so people who follow a specific religion can still celebrate it.
Christian believers would celebrate Christmas. Williams declared, “I rejoice in both. ‘My family…’ I’m only starting to observe Kwanzaa. I was aware of it. The event and culture will be formally celebrated for the first time this year, but it won’t be a religious occasion. Christmas will be observed by those of us who practice Christianity.
Although it may appear that only African Americans celebrated Kwanzaa, the holiday’s ideas and message are shared by all people, and anybody is welcome to observe it.
According to Jasmin Smith, “It’s a day in a week for the Black community, but the themes are universal.” “Therefore, everyone can benefit from it.”
There are numerous ways to learn about Kwanzaa, and this week there will be activities that people can go to to both take part in the celebrations and learn more about the festival. The Umoja Coworking and Incubator will conduct a Ujamaafest on December 29 from 6 to 9 p.m.