The 7 Kwanzaa Principles Explained
According to Dr. Karenga, the 7 Kwanzaa Principles were designed to solidify the values of African culture. These principles are based on family, culture and community among all African Americans regardless of their religious affiliations. Known as Nguzo Saba, these principles are the basic foundation upon which all values are reinforced and in which a solid commitment is formed.
In order to appropriately cite these principles, the officialkwanzaawebsite.org describes these 7 Kwanzaa Principles, authored by Maulana Karenga, in this way:
Umoja or Unity: To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
Kujichagulia or Self-Determination: To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility: To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
Ujamaa or Cooperative Economics: To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Nia or Purpose: To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Kuumba or Creativity: To do always as much as we can, in any way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Imani or Faith: To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness will victory of our struggle.
Note that the 7 Principles incorporate the words first in Swahili and then English.
The 7 Kwanzaa Principles are also known as Kawaida, a term used to define a system of beliefs. Born out of the civil rights movement in the 60’s, Dr. Karenga felt there was a need for all African Americans to reconnect with their historical and cultural heritage.
It is also interesting to note that at the time Dr. Karenga established the USO or United Slaves Organization, better known today as Organization Us, there were seven children in this organization. Since each child wanted to represent each letter in Kwanzaa, the additional letter “a” was added at the end to acknowledge their wishes.
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