Kwanzaa yenu iwe na heri! Harambee! / Happy Kwanzaa – Let’s all pull together!


Vickie M. Oliver-Lawson

“Remembering the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa”


First fruits is what the name Kwanzaa means

It’s celebrated everywhere by kings and queens

Based on seven principles that still exist

If you check out this rhyme, you’ll get the gist


Umoja, a Swahili name for unity

Is the goal we strive for across this country

Kujichagulia means self-determination

We define ourselves, a strong creation.

Ujima or collective work and responsibility

Is how we build and maintain our own community

For if my people have a problem, then so do I

So let’s work through it together with our heads held high.


Ujamaa meaning cooperative economics is nothing new

We support and run our own stores and other businesses, too

Nia is purpose, us developing our potential

As we build our community strong to the Nth exponential

Kuumba is the creative force which lies within our call

As we leave our community much better for all

As a people, let’s move forward by extending our hand

For Imani is the faith to believe that we can.


These seven principles help to make our nation strong

If you live to these ideals, you can’t go wrong

But you must first determine your own mentality

And believe in yourself as you want you to be

And no matter how far, work hard to reach your goal

As we stand, as a people, heads up, fearless and bold.


Ms. Vickie M. Oliver-Lawson is a retired public school administrator, wife, and mother from Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.  She is the author of several books, including “Vocal Moments”, “In the Quilting Tradition” and “Timeless Influences” (2009).  She contributes to the Examiner news website.

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Journalist Will Jones writes:

Kwanzaa was created as an Afrocentric holiday in 1966 by the black-militant history professor Maulana Karenga, and was intended to be a secular cultural celebration rooted in notions of African pride and community empowerment, rather than in any long-standing religious tradition like Christmas or Hanukkah. And in its very nature, Kwanzaa seems as appealing to many as it is appalling to others. It certainly presumes a level of self-awareness and racial identity that some can find off-putting. But at the same time, many who celebrate Kwanzaa or in tandem with Christmas say the holiday is less about being counter to any other mainstream holiday, and more of a vehicle to celebrate African-American culture and a shared heritage.

Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits” in Swahili, revolves around seven core principles, each celebrated on one day of the week-long observance, with simple, often homemade gifts and feasts. Each day a red, black or green candle is lit in a Kinara in honour of each of the seven principles: Umoja, unity; Kujichagulia, self-determination; Ujima, collective work and responsibility; Ujamaa, cooperative economics; Nia, purpose; Kuumba, creativity; and Imani, faith. ”

Kwanzaa, beginning always on December 26th, lasts seven days, being completed on January 1st.

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