Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tonight is the first night of Kwanzaa, which runs from December 26 to January 1. The celebration was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 in the wake of the Watts riots in Los Angeles.
Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community. He founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African "first fruit" (harvest) celebrations. Dr. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa.
While Kwanzaa has the flexibility to be celebrated by people in many ways, it's based on seven core principles called the Nguzo Saba. They are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans and each of those core principle is celebrated over the seven nights of Kwanzaa.
The core principles are:
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's 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.
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
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.
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
The core principles are not just for being remembered during the Kwanzaa celebration, they are also to be used to help not only organize the community, but be used by individuals as well.
Kwanzaa is growing in popularity among some African-Americans since it's founding as people look for ways to reconnect to our African cultural roots.
Happy Kwanzaa to all you peeps who celebrate it.