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12/26/2019 - 1/1/2020 - KWANZAA

The following "modified" information is taken from the article: "From Umoja to Imani, Kwanzaa Has 'Won the Hearts and Minds of African People Around the World'" - by N'dea Yancey-Bragg, Steve Strauss, Contributor, USA TODAY | December 26, 2019

Kwanzaa, a weeklong celebration of African and African American culture that begins Thursday December 26th and ends Wednesday, January 1st, was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga.

Dr. Karenga designed the holiday as a way to reaffirm African Americans' roots in African culture, to have a regular time for black people to bond, and to introduce the nguzo saba which is Swahili for seven values, according to Chimbuko Tembo, associate director of the African American Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where Karenga serves as executive director.

The holiday is based on African agricultural celebrations of the first harvest, and Tembo said Swahili was chosen as the language for its terminology because it's "non ethnic" and the most widely-spoken African language.

As Karenga put it in a 2013 interview with the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle, “The celebration of Kwanzaa is about embracing ethical principles and values, so the goodness of the world can be shared and enjoyed by us and everyone.”

A different value is celebrated on each of seven nights, marked by lighting candles on a holder called a kinara – three red candles, three green and a black candle at the center.

The seven values of Kwanzaa:
Umoja, or Unity: The first principle of Kwanzaa is unity, especially as it relates to family, community, nation and race.  
Kujichagulia, or Self-Determination: This principle encourages participants to define and speak for themselves. 
Ujima, or Collective Work and Responsibility: Participants should build and maintain community together and help solve each others' problems.
Ujamaa, Cooperative Economics: Karenga describes cooperative economics as the sum of three concepts: 1) Shared wealth and work; 2) Economic self-reliance and; 3) Obligation of generosity. 
Nia, or Purpose: This principle is defined as building and developing community.
Kuumba, or Creativity: To leave the community more beautiful than before.
Imani, or Faith: Finally, for Kwanzaa’s last night, participants reflect on faith in people, family and leaders.
During Kwanzaa, children are often given books and heritage symbols as gifts in exchange for making and keeping commitments and to stress the importance of knowledge, Tembo said. Families often attend both private and communal celebrations where they reflect on each day's values.

"One part of it is celebrating, the other part of it is actually doing the practice," she said.

The holiday began as a small celebration among members of an organization called Us, created by Karenga during the black power movement of the 1960s. Although some have questioned whether the holiday is still relevant, Tembo said Kwanzaa is celebrated "on every continent in the world, throughout the world by millions and millions of African people." About 2.6% of those who plan to celebrate winter holidays said they would celebrate Kwanzaa, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation this year.

"Kwanzaa, just like black people, refuses to be diverted or be dispirited, and the nguzo saba really has won the hearts and minds of African people around the world," she said.

"It makes a positive passing on of culture and values to children that sticks," Moore said. "Just as Christian values go acknowledged and celebrated all year, the values of Kwanzaa, too, should carry beyond a week at the end of the year."

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