Kwanzaa is a unique African American celebration with a focus on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement. Kwanzaa is neither political nor religious and despite some misconceptions, is not a substitute for Christmas. It is simply a time of reaffirming African-American people, their ancestors and culture.

Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits of the harvest” in the African language Kiswahili, has gained tremendous acceptance. Since its founding in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa has come to be observed by more than 18 million people worldwide, as reported by the New York Times. When establishing Kwanzaa in 1966, Dr. Karenga included an additional “a” to the end of the spelling to reflect the difference between the African-American celebration (kwanzaa) and the Motherland spelling (kwanza).

It’s a celebration of community, coming together.

Kwanzaa is:

A time of ingathering of the people to reaffirm the bonds between them;

A time of special reverence for the creator and creation in thanks and respect for the blessings, bountifulness and beauty of creation;

A time for commemoration of the past in pursuit of its lessons and in honor of its models of human excellence, our ancestors;

A time of re-commitment to our highest cultural ideals in our ongoing effort to always bring forth the best of African cultural thought and practice; and

A time for celebration of the Good: the good of life and of existence itself, the good of family, community and culture, the good of the awesome and the ordinary, and the good of the divine, natural and social.


Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community. These values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles. Developed by Dr. Karenga, the Nguzo Saba stand at the heart of the origin and meaning of Kwanzaa, for it is these values which are not only the building blocks for community but also serve to reinforce and enhance them.

Each Day of Kwanzaa – Dec. 26 – Jan. 1 focuses on one of the seven principles.

• Umoja (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.” To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

• Kujichagulia (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. To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

• Ujima (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. To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

• Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support. To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

• Nia (NEE-yah) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community. To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

• Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community. To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

• Imani (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 ourself-worth and confidence in our ability. To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righte­ousness and victory of our struggle.

KWANZAA in KC and WICHITA – Dec 26, 2018 – Jan 1, 2019

In Wichita, each night of Kwanzaa is being celebrated at United Vybez, Culture and More a 2003 E Central, Wichita – more info here https://www.facebook.com/events/1735529696551919/

In Kansas City, the multi-night celebration is taking over the Gem Theater and culminating Jan 1 at the Nefertiti Ballroom – more info here https://www.facebook.com/events/565336603911802/

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