The 7 Principles of Kwanzaa Are Essential to the Holiday, and Life in General

Terri Huggins
·4 mins read
Photo credit: Star Tribune via Getty Images
Photo credit: Star Tribune via Getty Images

From Woman's Day

For those who celebrate it, Kwanzaa is more than just another holiday during December. It’s the opportunity to celebrate the richness of culture and foundation for seven days, from Dec. 26 toJan. 1. What started in 1966 as a celebration of life and “first fruits” during the cultural change brought by the civil rights movement has become a time of acceptance and cultural connection to the African American community, according to History.com. No religious affiliation is required; just the desire to raise your vibration while bringing yourself closer to African roots. But the Nguzo Saba, or seven principles of Kwanzaa as created by Dr. Maulana Karenga professor at California State University, provides a guide of core values meant to reinforce African culture and strengthen community building.

According to the Official Kwanzaa website, each day of Kwanzaa highlights one of the seven principles and a candle is lit while the specific principle is discussed among family.

While every family celebrates the beauty of the culture in their own way, they all follow ideals presented by the seven principles of Kwanzaa stated in Swahili and translated as follows:

Day 1 is 'Umoja' (Unity)

To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Umoja not only reminds people to come together physically, but morally. This can mean your willingness to stand up with your community for a common cause or showing solidarity because no one accomplishes anything alone. Umoja emphasizes that you are capable of anything once we come together.

Day 2 is 'Kujichagulia' (Self-Determination)

To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Whether a quiet stance or load shout, your voice alone is enough to affirm what you are — no approval necessary. When you are firm in who you are, it’s easier to realize that you don’t need to wait for another group to define your role and where you stand. Most importantly, you are capable and within your rights to recall your history as Black people and shape your life as you see fit without the encouragement of another group.

Day 3 is 'Ujima' (Collective Work and Responsibility)

To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.

Not only are you collectively responsible for success, but you are responsible for the setbacks as well. Commitment to criticism and development is essential to the wins of the community. And when you learn, support each other and triumph with each other, you witness Ujima in action.

Photo credit: Jerry Holt
Photo credit: Jerry Holt

Day 4 is 'Ujamaa' (Cooperative Economics)

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

Under this principle, you are intended to thrive financially as a community. That means recognizing the power of the Black dollar by creating — and supporting — those businesses. When that happens, you can start building generational wealth which can aid in creating assets and financial foundations that can be passed down as we work to close the wealth gap.

Additionally, you must practice generosity. Do what you can to lift others out of poverty so security can be established in the Black community.

Day 5 is 'Nia' (Purpose)

To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Nia encourages you to find your why, which is deeply rooted in restoring your greatness in the connection to the collective. It also lends to the importance of finding purpose in protecting your legacy as “fathers and mothers of humanity,” according to the official Kwanzaa website.

Photo credit: MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Photo credit: MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Day 6 is Kuumba (Creativity)

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.

Use your gifts to assist your community in reaching its potential and leaving it even more beautiful than you found it. Your creativity is essential to growth and revitalizing the community.

Day 7 is Imani (Faith)

To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Without the belief in your values and your place in the community, nothing else will be sustained. Additionally, without faith in your community and what your community is willing to do there is little chance for it to thrive.

Want to make your holidays shine? You’re in luck! Subscribe to Woman's Day today and get 73% off your first 12 issues. And while you’re at it, sign up for our FREE newsletter for even more of the Woman's Day content you want.

You Might Also Like