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date: 20 February 2020


  • A. Kia Sinclair


Created by Maulana Ron Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday that celebrates ancestry, community, family, and unity of all African peoples throughout the world. Kwanzaa is celebrated from 26 December to 1 January. The word “Kwanzaa” is derived from the Swahili word kwanza meaning “the first.” The actual Swahili phrase is Matunda ya kwanza or the first fruits The holiday name of Kwanzaa is spelled with an additional a at the end to make it a seven letter word so that it corresponds with the theme of seven Kwanzaa lasts seven days and is based on the Kawaida theory which is reflected through the seven principles known as Nguzo Saba The Kawaida theory is a philosophy generated by Karenga that focuses on tradition and aspiration The theory presumes that practicing values rooted in what is seen as a traditional African communitarian heritage promotes social change in ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.

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