Kwanzaa: Purpose, faith and unity |

Kwanzaa: Purpose, faith and unity

Mention Kwanzaa, and a likely response is, “That’s a made-up holiday.” By “made-up,” people are referring to the fact that it was created in 1966 by a professor and chairman of black studies at California State University, Long Beach.

In response to the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Maulana Karenga looked for ways to unite the black community.

Drawing on different aspects of various African harvest celebrations, Karenga formed the basis of Kwanzaa, which is derived from “matunda ya kwanza,” meaning “first fruits” in Swahili.

It is a nonreligious African-American holiday, celebrating family, community and culture. It began Sunday and continues through Saturday.

On each day, a different principle is celebrated. The seven principles are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

There is no prescribed method of celebrating Kwanzaa, but it often includes singing and dancing, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading and a large traditional meal. On each night, a candle is lit and the coinciding principle is discussed.

Although Carson City does not have a large black population, we respect the traditions of the culture.

Even more, we support the ideals set forth by the holiday and encourage all Carson City residents to learn more about them.

Becoming self-sufficient with greater purpose and faith and finding strength in unity are lofty New Year’s resolutions, regardless of race.