Kwanzaa holiday celebration starts today

Published 7:42 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2007

By Staff
Next seven days for African American unity
Senior Reporter
Kwanzaa is an African American non-religious holiday celebrated by millions of people worldwide in the African community.
According to the official Kwanzaa web site, the celebration spans over seven consecutive days-Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.
Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 in an attempt to bring the African community together in America and in the world.
Kwanzaa brings a cultural message that speaks to the best of what it means to be African American, he says.
Kwanzaa means “first fruits” in Swahili.
Family celebrations often include songs, dancing with drums, storytelling, poetry reading and a large traditional meal.
According to Karenga, it is important for African Americans to understand the cultural significance of the integrity, beauty and expansive meaning of the holiday and the importance of understanding Kwanzaa’s thought, dignity and sense of specialness it deserves.
On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of seven candles placed together, then one of the seven principles is discussed.
The first principle is unity, meaning to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
The second principle is self-determinatin, meaning to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
The third principle is collective work and responsibility, meaning to build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
The fourth principle is cooperative economics, meaning to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and profit from them together.
The fifth principle is purpose, meaning to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
The sixth principle is 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.
The seventh, and last principle, is to believe with all of our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Please contact Senior Reporter Claud Hodges at the Washington Daily News on his voice mail at 940-4212 for your comments needed for a follow-up article on Kwanzaa.