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The celebration of Kwanzaa has been a practice in African-American households since the ’60’s, building a bridge of connection between Black Americans and the homeland of Africa. Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1965, the week-long celebration begins on this day and promotes a daily principle as part of the practice.

Dr. Karenga says that Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “Matunda Ya Kwanza” which means “first fruits from the harvest” in Swahili. The focus of the holiday is built around seven daily principles that practitioners promote in various ways.

Nguzo Saba, the seven-day practice of Kwanza, is the celebration of African heritage marked by rituals, symbols and other means. The seven days are as follows:

Umoja (Unity)

Kujuchagulia (Self-Determination)

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

Nia (Purpose)

Kuumba (Creativity)

Imani (Faith)

For each day, the greeting “Habari Gani” which means “What’s The News” in Swahili. Persons usually respond with whatever the day’s principle is and carry out the lighting of the kinara, which holds a candle for every day of the principle. Some choose to wear African garb during the holiday and share libations via a communal cup. There are also periods of remembrance for the deceased and readings of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness.

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