Happy Kwanzaa Umoja Day: First Day of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is an African American holiday which highlights 7 principles (Umoja/Unity, Kujichagulia/Self Determination, Ujima/ Collective Work and Responsibility, Ujamaa/Cooperative Economics, Nia/Purpose, Kuumba/Creativity, and Imani/Faith) which corresponds to each of the seven days of Kwanzaa. The family and community are the context in which Kwanzaa is celebrated. Kwanzaa is a non religious holiday, celebrate by those of all faiths.

The Primacy of Family and Community

Kwanzaa places a premium and priority on building and strengthening the family and by extension the community through embracing and practicing the 7 Principles which form the core and meaning of Kwanzaa. The health of the family and community is the strongest indicator of possibilities of black children and black youth thriving and African Americans fulfilling its mission of transforming themselves and America into a force which advances humanity. Hence, the Kwanzaa celebration begins the call to family, ingathering. To be sure, the family is promise and possibility of its community and people.

The Candle Lighting Activity

The candle lighting activity is one of the most spiritually elevating and socially significant activities of the Kwanzaa celebration. It is around this activity that each members of the family makes solemn commitment to realize the talents and to continue the effort to build a viable family in the service of strengthening the bonds of family and community.

The black candle is lit on the first day of Kwanzaa. This candle is symbolic of black people and the unity which blacks strive to achieve, beginning first in the family and community.

The Unity Day Commitment

The commitment for this, the first day of Kwanzaa, is for the family and its members to pledge to engage in activities during the year that create and reinforce the bonds of family. To paraphrase Booker T. Washington:  this translates into being separate our fingers in all of the family’s diversity, and yet, being one as the hand in family.

The Family Activity

During Kwanzaa the family engages in a family activity that reinforces the principle for that day. Today, the family activity is one which highlights and reinforces unity.


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