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The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa

By Leah Asmelash, CNN

Christmas may be over, but Kwanzaa just started.

Today marks the beginning of Kwanzaa, also spelled Kwanza (with an ‘a’ at the end). It’s a seven-day non-religious holiday in the United States, which means Honoring the ancestral roots of African Americans. The celebration runs until January 1.

The name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza”, which means “first fruit of the season”.

Founded in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a Black nationalist and professor of Pan-African studies at California State University at Long Beach, Kwanzaa became popular during the 1980s and 1990s with the style Black Power movement – makes up the winter holiday trilogy with Hanukkah and Christmas.

Holidays are defined by the Nguzo Saba, or seven principles. Each day of the festival is dedicated to a particular principle, marked by lighting a new candle on the kinara, a seven-armed lampstand.

Although Kwanzaa is not as widely celebrated as it once was, its seven principles still hold true for some. Here’s a look at what those principles are and what they mean.

Umoja

Umoja means unity in Swahili.

Karenga defines this on his Kwanzaa website such as: “Strive and maintain unity in family, community, nation and race.”

Kujichagulia

Or self-determination. This principle refers to identifying, naming, creating and speaking for yourself.

Ujima

Translated as “collective work and responsibility”, ujima refers to enhancing your community.

“Building and sustaining our community together, making our brothers and sisters’ problems ours and solving them together,” Karenga wrote.

Ujamaa

Cooperative economy. Similar to ujima, this principle deals with raising your community morale economically. “To build and maintain our stores, stores, and other businesses and profit from them together,” he wrote.

Nia

Nia means purpose.

Karenga expands on this principle with: “Following our collective vocation to build and develop our communities to restore our peoples to their traditional greatness.”

Kuumba

Meaning “creation”, Karenga defines this principle as “Always doing the best we can, the way we can, to make our community more beautiful and profitable than we are.” inherited”.

Imani

The last principle is translated as “faith”.

Karenga defines this as trust in the community, writing: “Believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and righteousness and victory in the struggle. our.”

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DUSTIN JONES

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