Living Kwanzaa Every Day
Tina L Carter
Faith Formation and Evangelization Team Member
When Maulana Ron Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966, the civil rights movement was in full swing, but change was still slow. The radical voices of Dr. King and peaceful protests were replaced with the calls for Black Power and empowerment. Dr. Karenga looked to the motherland of Africa for guidance and settled upon seven principles needed to uplift our souls and communities. Using Swahili, one of the more common languages in Africa, Kwanzaa which is taken from matunda ya Kwanza or first fruits, this 7-day celebration of African American Heritage and culture occurs during the in-between time from Christmas to New Year to reaffirm and recommit to family and community. Each day of Kwanzaa has a principle related to it.
Each of these principles can be found in communities throughout the African continent. These principles are:
In addition to the principles, some symbols also reflect these communitarian values. The Kinara holds seven candles, three red, one black, and three green. The colors of the candles represent the black skin of Africans and African Americans, the red blood that was shed for liberation, and the rich green earth of the motherland in Africa. In addition, there is Mahindi (corn) to represent children in the community and the Kikombe cha Umoja (unity cup) is used to pour libations for our ancestors.
As we continue in this new year, use the principles of Kwanzaa to guide you toward a joyous and prosperous new year!