Kwanzaa 2006 will begin on Tuesday, December 26, 2006 and will last through January 1, 2007. Many African-Americans are not entirely familiar with Kwanzaa, as it is a newer holiday celebration. The core messages of building and maintaining family, community and cultural connections with the African worldwide community should be important to all of its members. So by taking the time to learn about this celebration, you may be ready to celebrate next year for Kwanzaa 2006.
Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga to reinforce the community values of Afrincan culture, to introduce the seven principles of these community values (known as Nguzo Saba) and to serve as a communal celebration between African-Americans and the other Africans of the world. The number seven figures highly in Kwanzaa celebrations because it is based on the first-fruits celebrations from ancient Africa, which lasted seven days. The number seven then correlates to the number of days Kwanzaa is held, as well as the seven principles outlined as Nguzo Saba. Even the name itself has seven letters.
On each day of Kwanzaa, one of the seven principles of Nguzo Saba is celebrated. For Kwanzaa 2006, the first principle of Umoja (Unity) will be celebrated on Tuesday, December 26. The second principle of Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) would be celebrated on Wednesday, December 27 for Kwanzaa 2006. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), the third principle, will be celebrated on Thursday, December 28th. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) will be celebrated on Friday, December 29th. On Saturday, December 30th, those participating in Kwanzaa 2006 will celebrate the fifth principle of Nia (Purpose). The sixth principle of Kuumba (Creativity) will be celebrated on Sunday, December 31st, while the final celebration of Kwanzaa 2006, Imani (Faith) will be celebrated on January 1st, 2007.
In addition to those seven principles and corresponding days of celebration for Kwanzaa 2006, there are also seven symbols of Kwanzaa. The first symbol is Mazao (the crops). This symbolizes African harvest celebrations and the benefits of productive and collective work. Mkeka (the mat) symbolizes the foundation upon which Africans build, while Kinara (the candle holder) is symbolic of their roots. Muhindi (the corn) is symbolic of children and the future they will create. Mishumaa Saba (the seven candles) symbolizes the Nguzo Saba, or seven principles, as noted above. The sixth symbol is the Kikombe cha Umoja (the unity cup), which symbolizes the basic principle of unity that is central to Kwanzaa. Finally, Zawadi (the gifts) symbolizes the work and love of parents and the commitments made by children.
One of most spiritual elements of Kwanzaa falls on Imani, the final day of Kwanzaa, which corresponds to the first day of the New Year. On this day, celebrants observe a day of meditation where they ask the following questions: Who am I? Am I really who I say I am? Am I all I ought to be? On the day of Imani, those who celebrate Kwanzaa recommit themselves to the values of Kwanzaa and pay their respects to their ancestors.
Familiarizing oneself with the principles of Kwanzaa is the first step in learning what it takes to become part of a Kwanzaa celebration. Contrary to popular myth, one does not have to give up Christmas to celebrate Kwanzaa. Africans of all religions can participate in this cultural celebration that reinforces all of the important values of African culture and unity.