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Kwanzaa - The First Fruit Celebration

Seven principles of unity

Palm Beach Post Staff Reports
Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Kwanzaa: A week to celebrate African culture

Kwanzaa, a celebration of African culture, begins today and continues through Jan. 1.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, chair of the Department of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach. "Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one, thus available to and practiced by Africans of all religious faiths who come together based on the rich, ancient and varied common ground of their Africanness," Karenga says.

The seven-day holiday is organized around seven principles, which Karenga developed to reaffirm and strengthen family, community and culture.

The first principle: Umoja (OO-MO-JAH) or unity. Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, "I am We," or "I am because We are."

The second principle: Kujichagulia (KOO-GEE-CHA-GOO-LEE-YAH) or self-determination. The goal of this day: to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

The third principle: Ujima (OO-GEE-MAH), or work and responsibility. This day reminds us to build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.

The fourth principle: Ujamaa (OO-JAH-MAH), or cooperative economics. This principle encourages people to build and maintain stores and other businesses and to profit from them together.

The fifth principle: Nia (NEE-YAH), or purpose. This is a day for setting personal goals.

The sixth principle: Kuumba (KOO-OOM-BAH), or creativity. This day encourages us to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful than we inherited it.

The seventh principle: Imani (EE-MAH-NEE), or faith. This day is set aside for Kwanzaa celebrants to believe in African people, parents, teachers, leaders and the righteousness and "victory of our struggle."

Kwanzaa ends Jan. 1 with the Siku ya Taamuli (a Day of Meditation), which is dedicated to sober self-assessment and recommitment to the seven principles and other African values.

For more information about Kwanzaa, see

-- Janis Fontaine

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