As many of us eat up the last of our Christmas cookies and unwrap our remaining presents, others are preparing for Kwanzaa, the seven day celebration spanning from December 26 to January 1.

Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga with the goal to give African-Americans “an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.” Many have questioned the made-up nature of Kwanzaa, while others revel in its seven principles that are meant to highlight self-determination as well as the collective success of African-Americans.

The Nguzo Saba, or seven principles, consist of:

  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves stand up.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ 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.

Each principle is celebrated on each subsequent day of Kwanzaa, starting today.

So, as we enter into day one, Umoja, do you celebrate Kwanzaa? Why or why not?

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