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Sunday, 11 December 2011


Kwanzaa is a week long celebration held in the United States honoring universal African-American heritage and culture, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year. It features activities such as lighting a candle holder with seven candles[1] and culminates in a feast and gift giving. It was created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in 1966–1967.
History and etymology
Maulana Karenga of the US Organization created Kwanzaa in 1966 as the first specifically African American holiday .[2] Karenga said his goal was to "give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society."[3] The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning first fruits of the harvest.[4] The choice of Swahili, an East African language, reflects its status as a symbol of Pan-Africanism, especially in the 1960s.
Kwanzaa is a celebration that has its roots in the black nationalist movement of the 1960s, and was established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions and Nguzu Saba, the "seven principles of African Heritage" which Karenga said "is a communitarian African philosophy".
During the early years of Kwanzaa, Karenga said that it was meant to be an alternative to Christmas, that Jesus was psychotic, and that Christianity was a white religion that black people should shun.[5] However, as Kwanzaa gained mainstream adherents, Karenga altered his position so that practicing Christians would not be alienated, then stating in the 1997 Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture, "Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday."[6]
Many Christian African Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa do so in addition to observing Christmas.[7]
In 2009, Maya Angelou narrated the award-winning documentary The Black Candle, the first film about Kwanzaa.


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