WORLDWIDE — Today, Dec. 26, is the first day of Kwanzaa 2017.

The cultural holiday was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits.” 

Kwanzaa colors are black, red and green to represent unity for people of African descent worldwide. Black represents the people, red for their noble blood that unites them and green for the rich land of Africa.

“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,” according to the official Kwanzaa website.

This year marks the 51st anniversary of the weeklong celebration.

Here are the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa, or the Nguzo Saba, the reason behind the 7 candles on the Kwanzaa candelabra:

1. Umoja: Unity

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

2. Kujichagulia: Self-Determination

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

3. Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility

To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and solve them together.

4. Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics

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

5. Nia: Purpose

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

6. 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.

7. 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.


For more information, visit the official Kwanzaa website.