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Habari Gani? — What’s the News?


Kwanzaa’s seven days of celebration, which begin on December 26 and end on January 1, focus on seven principles or goals: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani). The ultimate goal is that those principles, reviewed and reinforced during Kwanzaa, will become a way of life throughout the entire year.

The word Kwanzaa is derived from Swahili words meaning “first fruits of the harvest,” and the holiday includes many elements of traditional African harvest celebrations. The most important symbols of Kwanzaa are:

* the mishumaa — seven candles (3 red, 3 green, 1 black), standing for Kwanzaa’s seven principles
* the kinara — a candleholder, representing the stalk of corn from which the family grows
* the mkeka — a straw placemat, recalling tradition and history
* the mazao — a variety of fruit, symbolizing the harvest
* the vibunzi — an ear of corn for each child, celebrating the child’s potential
* the kikombe cha umoja — a cup of unity, commemorating one’s ancestors
* the zawadi — modest gifts, encouraging creativity, achievement, and success

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