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The principles of Kwanzaa

The Story

Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, co-operative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. These are the principles honoured each day from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 during Kwanzaa, a non-denominational celebration of African culture. The holiday dates back to 1966, when Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa to unite black Americans after devastating race riots in Los Angeles. By 1993, the year of this CBC-TV clip, Kwanzaa has spread to Canada. In this interview, two Haligonians describe Kwanzaa as a spiritual celebration of black pride and black culture.

Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: Dec. 28, 1993
Guest(s): Tracey Jones, Joan Jones
Host: Wendy Mesley
Duration: 6:11

Did You know?

• According to the website History.com, Kwanzaa is a blend of harvest festivals observed by the Ashanti and Zulu in Africa. The name for the holiday derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, which means "first fruits."

• Public Kwanzaa celebrations began in American cities in the early 1980 and by 1991, approximately five million black Americans observed Kwanzaa in some way, the New York Times reported. Just two years later, that number had risen to 18 million.

• Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa's creator and chair of black studies at California State University at Long Beach, said in 1992: "The question was 'What could we borrow from the past to give more meaning and fullness to our lives on which to build our future?'" The aim of Kwanzaa, he said, was the "re-Africanization" of black Americans. "I believe culture is a fundamental part of struggle and that until you break the monopoly the oppressor has on our mind, liberation is not only impossible but unthinkable." 






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