Kwanzaa is a unique African American celebration first and foremost created to reaffirm and restore the African-American community’s connectedness to their African culture. It is neither political nor religious and despite some misconceptions, is not a substitute for Christmas.
Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits of the harvest” in the African language Kiswahili, has gained tremendous acceptance. When establishing Kwanzaa in 1966, Dr. Maulana Karenga included an additional “a” to the end of the spelling to reflect the difference between the Africa- American celebration (Kwanzaa) and the Motherland spelling (Kwanza).
In the midst of the Black Liberation Movement of the 60’s, in which Kwanzaa was formed, the celebration was designed as an expression of recovery and reconstruction of African culture.
Kwanzaa was created to serve as a regular communal celebration to reaffirm and reinforce the bonds between Black people in America. It was designed to be an ingathering to strengthen community and reaffirm common identity, purpose and direction as a people.
Kwanzaa was conceived as a fundamental and important way to introduce and reinforce these values and cultivate appreciation for them.
Kwanzaa was also created to introduce and reinforce the Nguzo Saba (the Seven Principles.)