The 7 Principles of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is most commonly known as a time of learning, family, celebration, and tradition. During the week of Kwanzaa, both families and communities unite to partake in a feast, honor and affirm their ancestors, and celebrate different aspects of Black culture. Each day, community members light a candle that represents the principle of that day; they then breathe life into the principles by partaking in activities such as reciting poetry and stories, drumming, and sharing African cuisine. Homes are decorated during this time with the essential symbols of Kwanzaa, such as the kinara (candle holder), mkeka (mat), muhindi (corn), mazao (fruit), and zawadi (gifts). The home may also be decorated with the colors of the African diaspora – red, black, and green. 

While Kwanzaa is mostly recognized in popular culture as a holiday in the wintertime, it is also a way of life that promotes community, responsibility, and faith, among other values. Without further ado, here are the seven principles of Kwanzaa and what they represent.

The Principles of Kwanzaa:

  1. Kuumba (Creativity) – to do always as much as we can to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it.
  2. Imani (Faith) – to believe with all our hearts in our people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. 
  3. Umoja (Unity) – to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race. 
  4. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) – to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves. 
  5. Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility) – to build and maintain our community together and make our community’s problems our problems and to solve them together. 
  6. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) – to build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together. 
  7. Nia (Purpose) – to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

In every aspect of my life, I seek to practice the principles of Kwanzaa. To me, Kwanzaa is far more than just a winter holiday – it is a representation of how we should all strive to carry ourselves and live our lives. I started Kwanzaa Every Day in order to continue the work of my late husband, Peter Barrett, whose mission was to inspire everyone to live according to Kwanzaa principles, no matter what the season. The goal of this project is to highlight our rich culture and reconnect with our God-given power. The principles of Kwanzaa are a mindset, and it’s important to maintain this mindset in order to be able to connect with the highest versions of ourselves. If you’re looking for a reminder of the principles of Kwanzaa, I sell Kwanzaa shirts and cutting boards on my online store. Be sure to keep up with my blog (insert link) if you are interested in more content regarding Kwanzaa, anti-racism, and diversity and inclusion in the workplace! 

If you’re looking for more content regarding diversity and inclusion, anti-racism, and Black history, check out my social channels and my blog. You can also check out my podcast, The Jali Podcast, at this link. Thank you for reading! 

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