By: Adama Barrow
Discover five facts about Kwanzaa that you might not be aware of as millions of people prepare to celebrate it around the world.
African American Millennials and Gen Zers nowadays are largely unaware of Kwanzaa and have never attended a Kwanzaa celebration. Kwanzaa represents the pleasure Black Baby Boomers felt when they first embraced Pan-Africanism and social activism as younger individuals growing up in the turbulent times marked by the 1965 Watts riots.
December 26 to January 1
The United States Post Office issued the first Kwanzaa stamp in 1997, designed by Synthia Saint James, and it contributed to the celebration’s rise in popularity. In 1966, Dr. Maulana Korenga established Kwanzaa. The phrase Kwanzaa comes from a Swahili expression that meaning “first fruits of the crop.”
On a different day of the holiday, each of the seven Kwanzaa principles—unity, self-determination, communal responsibility, cooperative economy, purpose, creativity, and faith—is celebrated.
Kwanzaa was created in America as a result of the struggles faced by African Americans in the 1960s. African Americans are the bulk of Kwanzaa observers as a result. Only African Americans observed Kwanzaa for many years because it was a fledgling event. But just because something was created in America doesn’t mean it should be celebrated as a national holiday.
The number of individuals who celebrate the event varies depending on the source, but it is estimated that 20 million people do so worldwide. People from all over the world celebrate Kwanzaa in order to acknowledge their African roots. Despite being only roughly 50 years old, Kwanzaa is recognized and celebrated by people in Africa, Canada, England, and the Caribbean.