December 6, 2023

Lenape Tech Times

The Monthly News Source from Lenape Technical School

What is Kwanzaa? 

2 min read

By Ethan Clawson 

American Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 during the aftermath of the Watts Riots as a specifically African American holiday. This holiday was created to “Give African Americans an alternative to the existing holiday of Christmas and give them an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history,” said Karenga. The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase “Mutanda ya kwanza”, meaning first fruits. Fruit Festivals still exist in South Africa and are celebrated in January and December with the summer solstice. Kwanzaa celebrates what Karenga called the 7 principles of Kwanzaa. First principle is “Umoja” which is Unity and is meant to bring friends and family together. Second is “Kugichagulia” which is self-definition. Next is “Ujima” which is basically one person’s problems is the community’s, everyone is one big happy family. Fourth is “Ujamaa” which is cooperative economics which is to build and maintain our own businesses and profit from them together. Fifth is “Nia” which is purpose, we all have a reason to be here so we all should uplift and care for each other’s dreams. Next up is “Kuumba” which is creativity. It means let your mind wander and create what you see. Last is “Imani” which is faith. These seven principles are what the 7 candles of Kwanzaa represent. Each day of Kwanzaa another candle is lit until all 7 are lit. The candles are to be made of pure beeswax 

 Lenape Tech teachers were asked about Kwanzaa and this is what they said.  Ms. Shoen said, “It’s an annual African-American holiday, celebrated after Christmas. They celebrate for seven days; each day is a celebration for seven principles. I am not sure of all the principles, but one is about unity. Families come together to celebrate with bright African colors (to represent the colors of their African tribes they descended from), they light a candle each night, and the last night they have a huge feast.”   

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