Kwanzaa is an African celebration of family, community & culture which was created in 1966 by Dr. Ron “Maulana” Karenga - professor and chair of the Department of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach. (He is a native of Parsonsburg, Maryland).

Kwanzaa is celebrated December 26 through January 1. The word “Kwanzaa” is derived from the first harvest in Africa & comes from Swahili for first fruits. It is not an alternative to Christmas or other religious observances – it is a cultural celebration.

NGUZO SABA (The Seven Principles)

There are 7 basic principles of Kwanzaa which reinforce the seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture. One of these principles is observed during each day of Kwanzaa.

Umoja (Unity)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Nia (Purpose)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (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.

Imani (Faith)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.


Like many observances – there are basic symbols involved in the celebration of Kwanzaa – Crops, the mat, the 7 candles & candle holder, corn, unity cup & gifts. Also included are the flag of Pan-Africanism & poster of the 7 principles

The colors of Kwanzaa are red, green & black – black for the people, red for the struggle & green for the future & hope

Gifts are primarily given to children – but must include a book to stress the African tradition of learning & a heritage symbol to reaffirm the African commitment to tradition & history



Learn more at The Official Kwanzaa website
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Border & button design by ML - 2004
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