Furaha ya Kwanzaa from AAMLO!

The African American Museum and Library recognizes the celebration of Kwanzaa this holiday season.

What is Kwanzaa?


Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday celebrated in the African American community. Kwanzaa, the name, is derived from the Swahili word Kwanza. Expressed as the phrase “Matunda ya Kwanza” it means first fruit. Founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is based on seven principles known as the Nguzo Saba. The seven principles are:

Umoja, meaning unity

Kujichagulia, meaning self-determination

Ujima, meaning collective work and responsibility

Ujamaa, meaning cooperative economics

Nia, meaning purpose

Kuumba, meaning creativity

Imani, meaning faith

Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 through January 1 each year.

To prepare your Kwanzaa table you will need a mkeka (mat) to place your items on. Place the kinara (candle holder) that will hold the seven candles. Put the Mishumaa saba, (seven candles) into the kinara. A black candle should be placed in the middle of the kinara. Three green candles are placed to the left of the black candle. Three red candles are placed to the right of the black candle. One candle will be lit each day of the celebration from left to right. Each candle represents one of the seven Kwanzaa principles.


Continue by placing the mazao (fruit basket) representing the fruits of the earth. The vibunzi (ear of corn) is placed representing the number of children in the home. The zawadi (gifts for the children) are placed, and finally, the Kikombe cha umoja which is the communal cup used for pouring and sharing libation.

To learn more about the celebration of Kwanzaa please check out our books in the reference library. 



Furaha ya Kwanzaa Everyone!


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