space MelaNet Ancestors Logo (click to go home) space space Kwanzaa Information Center: Celebrate Everyday space
space   space space space

What is Kwanzaa?
About Kwanzaa
Table of Contents

I. What Is Kwanzaa?

A. History
B. Introduction
C. Why Celebrate Kwanzaa?

II. Symbols

A. Definition of a Symbol
B. Primary Symbols
C. Secondary Symbols

III. Principles

A. Definition of a Principle 
B. Nguzo Saba 

IV. Feel Good Information 

A. Origin of Red, Black, & Green Flag 
B. Pledge To Red, Black, & Green 

V. Schedule for Kwanzaa Celebration 

VI. Swahili-related Resources

VII. Sights & Sounds

KWANZAA, the African-American cultural holiday conceived and developed by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, was first celebrated on December 26, 1966. Kwanzaa is traditionally celebrated from December 26 through January 1, with each day focused on Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles. Derived from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits", Kwanzaa is rooted in the first harvest celebrations practiced in various cultures in Africa. Kwanzaa seeks to enforce a connectedness to African cultural identity, provide a focal point for the gathering of African peoples, and to reflect upon the Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles, that have sustained Africans. Africans and African-Americans of all religious faiths and backgrounds practice Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa was born out of the whirlwind of social and political changes of the sixties decade. The sixties represent one of many eras during which the African and African-American struggle for freedom and self-identity reached its historical peak, spawning multiple revolutionary movements.

By creating Kwanzaa, African-Americans sought to rectify the cultural and economic exploitation perpetrated against us during the months of October, November, and December (the Christmas season). During this season, corporate America typically ignored the quality of life concerns of African-Americans, yet encouraged participation in the commercialism of Christmas. Additionally, African-Americans did not observe a holiday that was specific to our needs. A review of the major holidays celebrated in the United States would reveal that not one related specifically to the growth and development of African-Americans. The development of Kwanzaa assumed a reassessment, reclaiming, recommitment, remembrance, retrieval, resumption, resurrection, and rejuvenation of the "Way of Life" principles recognized by African-Americans. These principles have strengthened African-Americans during our worldwide sojourn.

Today, Kwanzaa is recognized by millions throughout America and the world. It is celebrated often in community settings provided by homes, churches, mosques, temples, community centers, schools, and places of work. Kwanzaa allows us to celebrate the season without shame or fear of embracing our history, our culture, and ourselves.


Kwanzaa is a spiritual, festive and joyous celebration of the oneness and goodness of life, which claims no ties with any religion. 

The focus of Kwanzaa is centered around the seven principles (Nguzo Saba) with particular emphasis on the unity of our Black families. It is a time for gathering of our families, and for a rededication to manifesting the principles of Kwanzaa (Nguzo Saba) as a way of life for Black Americans.

Togtherness - photo by AAHA 

Kwanzaa has definite principles, practices and symbols which are geared to the social and spiritual needs of African-Americans. The reinforcing gestures are designed to strengthen our collective self-concept as a people, honor our past, critically evaluate our present and commit ourselves to a fuller, more productive future. 

Kwanzaa is a way of life; not just a celebration. As a living social practice, it is a week of actual remembering, reassessing, recommitting, rewarding and rejoicing. For evaluation of ourselves and our history, we relate to our past, reassess our thoughts and practices, and recommit ourselves to the achievement of Black liberation and the betterment of life for all Black Americans. 

Finally, the concept of Kwanzaa, the African-American holiday, is to help Black Americans relate to the past in order to understand the present and deal with the future. 

This is on-line Kwanzaa Information Center is designed to provide you with vital information to help in your understanding of the concept of Kwanzaa.

Why Celebrate Kwanzaa?

Whenever new information is presented to an individual or a group of people, the information must be accurate, clear and have a specific meaning for that particular individual or particular group. Therefore, the information should be presented in a specific format and should include certain factors. These factors are:

The center of an activity or the area of attention.

It is important to relate to the past in order to understand the present and deal with the future. A people will never look forward to posterity who never looked backward to their ancestors.

Sense of Direction
The way and manner in which the event will take form.

To practice the principles in our lives that helped our ancestors to endure oppression, slavery and racism. Emphasize Unity of the Black family.


The plan, intention or reason for an activity or event.

To maintain a history. History is Knowledge, Identity and Power.

The things that will be achieved.

To develop self and facilitate a positive Black self-esteem by exposing individuals to "KWANZAA", a culturally desirable pattern of principles, to help them live their lives and to encourage the highest level of positive Black self-esteem and spiritual development.  To establish a culturally oriented "WAY OF LIFE."


Go to Kwanzaa Info Center Homepage Goto the Top of Page Next Chapter - Symbols
space space
space space space space