KWANZAA is a cultural festival during which African-Americans celebrate and reflect upon their rich heritage as the products of two worlds.
It begins December 26th and continues for 7 days. Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana, a college professor and African American leader, who believed that a special holiday could help African Americans meet their goals of building strong families, learning about their history, and creating a sense of unity. After conducting extensive research in which he studied the festivals of many African groups of people, he decided that the new holiday should be a harvest or "first fruits" celebration, incorporating ideas from many different harvest traditions. Kwanzaa is a Kiswahili word meaning "the first fruits of the harvest."
The East African language of Kiswahili was chosen as the official language of Kwanzaa because it is a non-tribal language spoken by a large portion of the African population. Also, its pronunciation is easy -- the vowels are pronounced like those in Spanish, and the consonants, for the most part, like those in English.
Kwanzaa is based on seven principles -- which are called NGUZO SABA.
The principles are
1. UMOJA (UNITY)
2. KUJICHAGULIA (SELF-DETERMINATION)
3. UJIMA (COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY)
4. UJAMAA (COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS)
5. NIA (PURPOSE)
6. KUUMBA (CREATIVITY)
7. IMANI (FAITH).
One principle is highlighted each day of the holiday.
In preparation for the celebration, a straw place mat (Mkeka) is placed on the table, along with a seven-candle candle holder (Kinara) with seven candles. One black (placed in the center, three red (on the right), and three green (placed on the left).
The black candle represents the African-American people, the red is for their struggles, and the green represents their hopes for the future.
Other items placed on the table are a variety of fruit(Mazao), ears of corn (Vibunzi) representing the number of children in the family, gifts (Zawadi), and a communal unity cup (Kikombe Cha Umoja) for pouring and sharing libation.
Each day of Kwanzaa, usually before the evening meal, family and friends gather around the table and someone lights a candle, beginning with the black. After that, candles are lit alternately from left to right. While the candle is being lit, a principle is recited; then each person present takes a turn to speak about the importance that principle has to him or herself.
Next, the ceremony focuses on remembering those who have died. A selected person pours water or juice from the unity cup into a bowl. That person then drinks from the cup and raises it high saying "Harambee", which means "Let's all pull together." All repeat "Harambee!" seven times and each person drinks from the cup. Then names of African-American leaders and their heroes are called out, and everyone reflects upon the great things these people did.
The ceremony is followed by a meal and then singing and perhaps listening to African music.
AFRICAN CREOLE TURKEY
BEEF AND GROUNDNUT STEW
BLACK-EYED PEAS AND RICE
COLLARD GREENS WITH COCONUT MILK
FESTIVE KWANZAA SLAW
FRIED PLANTAIN WITH SPICY TOMATO RELISH
GARLIC CHEESE GRITS
OKRA AND CORN BOWL
OVEN-STYLE JERK CHICKEN
PINTO BEANS AND RICE
RED BEANS AND RICE