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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 2-minute 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 5th day of Kwanzaa, Nia or purpose


Celebrated on December 30th, day five of Kwanzaa is Nia (NEE-ah), which means purpose. It is defined as, a commitment to the collective vocation of building the community and developing its culture and history in order to restore African Americans to their traditional greatness, and add to the good and beauty in the world.

According to the Odu of Ifa, a sacred African text of ethical teachings that originates in a region in modern day Nigeria, the purpose of humans is to bring good into the world. In fact, Nia (NEE-ah) suggests that African people share the great human legacy of being parents to humanity, civilization and knowledge, providing an identity of cultural purpose and direction. The principle of Nia (NEE-ah) makes us conscious of that purpose in light of our historical and cultural identity.

On this day, the fifth candle of the Mishumaa saba (mee-shoo-MAH-ah  SAH-ba) is lit. Whether your tradition is to light all three red candles before moving to the green candles, or you alternate between red and green, the fifth candle will always be green. The three colors of the Mishumaa saba (mee-shoo-MAH-ah  SAH-ba remind celebrants of the colors of the flags of the African liberation movement.

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.