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Kwanzaa is an African American and pan-African seven-day cultural festival that is celebrated every December 26 to January 1. Like most festivals, Kwanzaa incorporates music as an essential element of its celebration. The purpose of Kwanzaa is to celebrate African American heritage, family and community.Each of the seven 2½ min segments of The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa focuses on the specific principle of that day/date, and sheds a bit of light on either the principle itself, or some element of the celebration. The goal of these segments is to introduce audiences to the celebration and encourage an understanding of inclusion and diverse perspectives.

The 1st day of Kwanzaa, Umoja or Unity.

Kwanzaa 1

Kwanzaa 1 Eric
Kwanzaa 1 Kearstin

During the seven-day festival of Kwanzaa (KWAN-za), families come together to celebrate pan-African culture, and honor the ancestry and community that unites them. Kwanzaa is a Swahili word which refers to the first fruits of the harvest. Traditionally the Kwanzaa centerpiece consists of fruits and vegetables that are native to Africa, an ear of corn for each child in the family, and a unity cup or Kikombe cha Umoja (kee-KOHM-bee chah oo-MOH-jah). The corn represents the hope associated with the younger generation.

As celebrants gather to light the first candle on the Kinara (kee-NAH-rah), they ask Habari gani (Ha-ba-ri ga-ni) or What is the news? Those gathered respond with the principle of the day.

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the principles or Nguzo Sabe (n-GU-zo SAH-bah) of African Heritage. On December 26th, the first day of Kwanzaa, the principle is Umoja (Oo-MOH-jah) or Unity, represented by the black candle, symbolizing the people themselves. This candle is lit first on each day of Kwanzaa, focusing on the unity of family, community, nation and race. Each participant will take a sip from the unity cup, raising it and announcing Harambee (hah-RAHM-beh), meaning let's pull together, then passing the cup to the next participant so that they too may drink. This ritual is performed each night of Kwanzaa.

WXXI celebrates Kwanzaa and the principles that reflect and recommit to the collective achievement of a better life for our families, community and our people.