Kwanzaa 2019 in United States

Observance: Thursday, December 26 through Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Article Submitted by Dr. Lavern J. Holyfield, Multicultural Social Engagement Partnership (MSEP) Commissioner

Kwanzaa is a week-long pan-African holiday created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana Studies, in 1966.  Observed in the United States and other nations of the African diaspora in the Americas from December 26 to January 1, this annual celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture.    Dr. Karenga envisioned it as a time to reflect the  best of African thought and practice in its reaffirmation of the dignity of the human person in community and culture, the well-being of family and community, the integrity of the environment and our kinship with it, and the rich resource and meaning of a people’s culture.

The focus of this period is the celebration of family, community, and culture.  Activities during this period are organized around the Seven Principles (pictured below). During the seven days, participants celebrate with feasts, music, dance, poetry, and narrative.  Kwanzaa has seven core principals and seven core symbols:

Day Seven Core Principles, or Nguzo Saba Seven Core Symbols
12/26 Umoja: Unity – To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race. Mazao: Crops – Mazao symbolizes the fruits of collective planning and work, and the resulting joy, sharing, unity and thanksgiving part of African harvest festivals. 
12/27 Kujichagulia: Self-Determination – To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves. Mkeka: Place Mat – Just as the crops stand on the mkeka, the present day stands on the past. The mkeka symbolizes the historical and traditional foundation for people to stand on and build their lives.
12/28 Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility – To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and solve them together. Muhindi: Ear of Corn – The stalk of corn represents fertility and the idea that through children, the future hopes of the family are brought to life. One vibunzi is placed on the mat for every child in the family.
12/29 Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics – To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together. Mishumaa Saba: The Seven Candles – Candles are ceremonial objects that serve to symbolically re-create the sun’s power, as well as to provide light. There are three red candles, three green candles, and one black candle that are placed on the kinara.
12/30 Nia: Purpose – To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness. Kinara: The Candleholder – The kinara represents our ancestry, and the original stalk from which we came.  
12/31 Kuumba: Creativity – To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. Kikombe Cha Umoja: The Unity Cup – On the sixth day, the libation ritual is performed to honor the ancestors. Every family member and guest will take a drink together as a sign of unity and remembrance.
01/01 Imani: Faith – To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.   Zawadi: Gifts – On the seventh day of Kwanzaa, gifts are given to encourage growth, achievement, and success. Handmade gifts are encouraged to promote self-determination, purpose, and creativity.

There are seven candles – one black candle, three red candles, and three green. Each represents one of the seven principles guiding Kwanzaa. They are placed in the mishumaa saba in a specific order.

The holiday ends with a day dedicated to reflection and recommitment to the Seven Principals and other central cultural values, culminating in gift-giving and a feast.  

The Seven Principles
Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles)
These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the matrix and minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.

Source:  The OfficialKwanzaaWebsite.org (http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.shtml)
(https://www.interexchange.org/articles/career-training-usa/history-principles-and-symbols-of-kwanzaa/)

The Duncanville Multicultural Social Engagement Partnership (MSEP) is a commission that serves under the City Council and is charged with:

  1. Establishing a partnership with the community to have the most engaged citizenry in America
  2. Develop an image as a family-oriented community locally and regionally
  3. Develop a brand for the community focusing on the goal of “Duncanville is the Basketball Capital of Texas” and leveraging this brand to enhance sports tourism
  4. Develop ways to engage citizens between 18-30 years of age to become more engaged in Duncanville
  5. Promote citizen participation and engagement in government; and to foster cooperative relationships among diverse citizens in order to fulfill the needs and desires and Duncanville’s diverse community