The celebration of Kwanzaa!

In 1966, Maulana Ron Karenga, an activist and author, sought to infuse the black freedom movement with a sense of cultural identity by associating it with Swahili.

Maulana Karenga chose Swahili as the official language for this movement and introduced the celebration of Kwanzaa.

The term “Kwanzaa” derives from the Swahili word “ku-anza,” meaning “to begin” or “first,” signifying the holiday’s intention to celebrate the “first fruits” or “matunda ya kwanza” of ancient African harvest festivals.

Kwanzaa encourages celebrants to embrace Swahili customs by adopting Swahili names and using Swahili titles of respect.

¬†Inspired by Julius Nyerere’s principle of “ujamaa” (unity in mutual contributions), Kwanzaa celebrates seven principles or pillars: Unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), shared purpose (nia), individual creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani).

The concept of “ujamaa” became an emblem of community solidarity and brotherhood, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries.

It resonated not only among African communities but also among diverse groups worldwide, from Australian Aborigines to African Americans. Its influence extended to college campuses in the United States, where dormitories were named “ujamaa houses” in its honour.