As the creator of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana “Ron” Karenga, professor of Black Studies, has had a profound impact on the African-American culture, as well as the evolution of Black Studies.  He is a celebrated author, Ph. D, founder of several Black nationalist organizations. As the guest on “The Evolution of Black Studies” (TBJ Show #2519), Dr. Karenga discusses Kwanzaa and its origin. 

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States to honor universal African heritage and culture. It takes place from December 26 to January 1 every year.

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Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, nor is it meant to replace Christmas. At this time of great social change for African Americans, Karenga sought to design a celebration that would honor the values of ancient African cultures and inspire African Americans who were working for progress.

Kwanzaa is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years. The name comes from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which means "first fruits of the harvest." Karenga chose a phrase from Swahili because the language is used by various peoples throughout Africa.

The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba)

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa honors a different principle. These principles are believed to have been key to building strong, productive families and communities in Africa. During Kwanzaa, celebrants greet each other with "Habari gani," or "What's the news?" The principles of Kwanzaa form the answers.

The 7-Principles of Kwanzaa

  1. umoja(oo-MOH-ja) unity
  1. kujichagulia(koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-yah)  self-determination
  1. ujima(oo-JEE-mah) collective work and responsibility
  1. ujamaa(oo-JAH-ma)  cooperative economics
  1. nia(nee-AH)  a sense of purpose
  1. kuumba(koo-OOM-bah) creativity
  2. mani(ee-MAH-nee) faith

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