A professor, Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, wanted to encourage African Americans to celebrate their heritage so he started Kwanzaa in California in 1966.
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Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days beginning on December 26 and ending on January 1. Families exchange gifts and have African cultural feasts and festivities.
The word "Kwanzaa" is an East African word which means "first fruits" and refers to the celebration of the harvest of first crops in traditional African society.
Kwanzaa is based on the Nguzo Saba or, the seven guiding principles/values, one for each day of the celebration:
- UMOJA (UNITY) (oo-MOE-jah) - To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
- KUJICHAGULIA (SELF DETERMINATION) (koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah) - To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
- UJIMA (COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY) (oo-JEE-mah) - To build and maintain our community together and to make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together.
- UJAMAA (COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS) (oo-JAH-mah) - To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit together from them.
- NIA (PURPOSE) (nee-AH) - To make as our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
- KUUMBA (CREATIVITY) (koo-OOM-bah) - To do always as much as we can, in the way that we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it.
IMANI (FAITH) (ee-MAH-nee) - To believe with all our hearts in our parents, our teachers, our leaders, our people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
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