holiday, Kwanzaa celebrates African-American heritage, pride, community,
family, and culture. The seven-day festival commences the
day after Christmas and culminates on New Year's Day.
by the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and based on ancient
African celebrations, Kwanzaa has become increasingly popular over
the last decade. More than 20 million people celebrate in the United
States, Canada, England, the Carribean and Africa.
roots lie in African first-fruit harvest celebrations,
from which it takes its name. The word Kwanzaa is derived
from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which means
are the foundation on which the modern holiday was built. Maulana
Karenga, an African-American scholar and activist, conceived
Kwanzaa in 1966 following the Watts riot. Currently, Karenga is
chairman of the Department of Black Studies at California State
University at Long Beach.
Kwanzaa is organized around five fundamental activities common to
other African first-fruit celebrations:
* the ingathering
of family, friends, and community;
for the creator and creation (including thanksgiving and recommitment
to respect the environment and heal the world);
of the past (honoring ancestors, learning lessons and emulating
achievements of African history);
to the highest cultural ideals of the African community (for example,
truth, justice, respect for people and nature, care for the vulnerable,
and respect for elders); and
of the "Good of Life" (for example, life, struggle, achievement,
family, community, and culture).