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Dawn J. Anderson & Norma Stanley | December 2022

Kwanzaa is a non-religious African-American holiday celebrating family, community, and culture. It is celebrated annually from December 26th to January 1st.

 Dr. Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga, previously known as Ron Everett, is an American activist, author, professor of Africana studies, and founder of Kwanzaa. The holiday is based upon seven core principles known as the Nguzo Saba taken from the Swahili language meaning “first fruits,” and celebrated by anyone of any race looking to connect with African teachings.

Photo credit: Irandelson Salgueiro Collection

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa are:

Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race. Umoja is observed on December 26th.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves. Kujichagulia is observed on December 27th.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems. Ujima is observed on December 28th.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together. Ujamaa is observed on December 29th.

Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community to restore our people to their traditional greatness. Nia is observed on December 30th.

Kuumba (Creativity): To always do as much as we can, in the way we can, to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. Kuumba is observed on December 31st.

Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. Imani is observed on January 1st.

These seven principles are the core of the Kwanzaa celebration and provide guidance and structure to the holiday.