Kwanzaa is a week-long observance that honors African heritage in African-American culture. It is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving. Kwanzaa was established by Maulana Karenga in 1966. It was the first specifically African-American holiday.
Kwanzaa brings some of the African culture back to African-American’s who had their culture and history stripped away as a result of slave policies.
Have you considered holding a Kwanzaa Observance Dinner with all 7 principals brought together in one evening? Consider using the last day of Kwanzaa, January 1, of each year, to tell our youth the story of our arrival, our struggle, and our survival and successes here in America.
Kwanzaa is usually observed over 7 days, however to encourage complete participation, I would suggest that the each
family do a Kwanzaa observance at home with their youth. It could be compressed into a 1 to 2 hour
program that ends with the feast. None of the elements would be neglected of ignored. The observance would be compressed into 1 event. This will give the youth the full benefit of the Kwanzaa observance.
How to do a 1 day Kwanzaa Dinner
Invite your family and let them know ahead of time that you are holding a Kwanzaa Dinner
Gather all of your elements and lay out the table as usual. (see items below)
Open with the traditional first day opening, devote 10 to 20 minutes, follow the observance as described, with an explanation of the principal.
Continue to move through each principal with a 10- to 20 minute observance and explanation of the principal
End the Kwanzaa observance with the usual feast and gifts.
During that time, The adults should encourage the young people to reach for all they can be.
Use this as a springboard to continue to teach modesty, decency, and integrity to our young people and adults
Continue to share and uphold the values, and vision that UBA holds for Black People in America.
The Values of Unified Black America are modesty, decency, integrity. education, productivity, respect and self determination.
The Vision of Unified Black America is to see all Black People in America, healthy, educated, employed, productive, respectful and respected.
A principle is a rule or law that governs conduct in a given situation. The Nguzo Saba are the set of principles/values by
which Black Americans must order their relations and live their lives, if they are to make decisions about their lives and
begin to build a new world and a new people to develop it. As a product of tradition and reason of history, the Nguzo Saba
responds to current needs which can be the method used by Blacks to solve the problems on every level which confronts us
as a people. Thus, the Nguzo Saba are social and spiritual principles, dealing with ways for us to relate to each other and
rebuild our lives in our own images.
Day 1 Umoja Unity
(oo-MO-jah) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is
reflected in the African saying, “I am We,” or “I am because We are.”
Day 2 Kujichagulia Self Determination
(koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) Self-Determination requires that we define our common interests and
make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.
Day 3 Ujima Working Together
(oo-GEE-mah) Collective Work and Responsibility reminds us of our obligation to the past, present
and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world.
Day 4 Ujamaa Supporting Each Other
(oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us
to meet common needs the trough mutual support.
Day 5 Nia Purpose
(NEE-yah) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial
to the community.
Day 6 Kuumba Creativity
(koo-OOM-bah) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and
Day 7 Imani Faith (faith in ourselves)
(ee-MAH-nee) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves,
and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence
in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.
Kwanzaa Symbols (the elements needed to hold a Kwanzaa Observance Dinner)
A symbol is an item or an object that already has a name and represents something significant. It is
renamed to give significance to a new group of people or person. The symbols of Kwanzaa serve as
instructive and inspirational objects that represent and reinforce desirable principles, concepts and
practices as reflective of both traditional and modern concepts which evolved out of the lives and
struggles of African-American people.
Mazao the crops Symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and
Mkeka woven mat: Symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we
Kinara candle holder:Symbolic of our roots, our parent people—continental Africans
Muhindi corn Symbolic of our children and our future which they embody
Mishumaa Saba the seven candles: Symbolic of the Nguzo Saba (7 principles), the matrix and
minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct
their lives in their own image and according to their own needs
Kikombe cha Umoja unity cup: Symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which
makes all else possible
Zawadi gifts: Symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the
Secondary Principles of Kwanzaa
NGUZO SABA (En-GOO-zoh Sah-BAH)Symbolizes the seven principles of Kwanzaa which were
developed by Maulana Ron Karenga. The Nguzo Saba are social principles dealing with ways for us to
relate to each other and rebuild our lives in our own images.
BENDERA YA TAIFA The flag of Black Nationalism symbolizes the struggle of Liberation. The Red
represents the blood of our ancestors; Black is for the collective color of all Black people, and Green
reminds us of the land, life and new ideas we must continue to strive to obtain.
TAMBIKO Symbolizes the libation by which honor is given in a special way to our ancestors and a
call to carry out the struggle and the work they began. It clearly symbolizes the recognition of and
respect for the contributions of those before us, our history and the models it offers us to emulate.
HARAMBEE Symbolizes a call to unity and collective work and struggle. The word means
Let’s pull together!
HABARI GANI What’s the news; what’s happening Swahili term used when greeting others.
KWAHERI Swahili term used as an expression of parting with good wishes and an expectancy to