Kwanzaa’s value to the youth

Adonis Richards
5 min readDec 27, 2019

Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is a pan-African holiday that is celebrated annually from December 26th- January 1st. The term is coined from the phrase, ‘matunda ya Kwanza’, meaning ‘first fruits’ in Swahili. traditionally celebrated in the US, Kwanzaa is a holiday celebrating African American social traditions.

The connection to the home continent of Africa, Dr. Karenga developed this holiday in order to have African Americans who have lost their connection to the motherland.

The celebration surrounds the special candle holder titled a kinara. The Kinara holds seven candles, each celebrating a day in Kwanzaa, with its own meaning. These are the seven principles of Kwanzaa. These are:

  • Umoja: Unity — Unity of the family, community, nation and race
  • Kujichagulia: Self-Determination — Being responsible for your own conduct and behaviour
  • Ujima: Collective work and responsibility — Working to Help each other and in the community
  • Ujamaa: Cooperative economics — Working to build shops and businesses
  • Nia: Purpose — Remembering and restoring African and African American cultures, customs and history
  • Kuumba: Creativity — Using creating and your imagination to make communities better
  • Imani: Faith — Believing in people, families, leaders, teachers and the righteousness of the African American struggle

- WhyChristmas

The beautiful piece of Kwanzaa is that it is a cultural holiday, therefore one can celebrate this holiday while still having their beliefs. Anyone can celebrate Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is more so a celebration of traditional and principle. A reflection on the past, an appreciation of the present and a glance into the future.

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa those that celebrate tends to partake in the principle assigned to that day. This is done through a myriad of means, depending on how you celebrate the holiday. The most important piece of Kwanzaa is the expression of these principles, understanding the value of culture and family.

It is a powerful holiday designed to channel the lost roots of African American tradition and to harvest the firsts fruits of a new year. Karenga is quoted in saying this holiday is a “ a communitarian African philosophy”.