Kiswahili and Kwaanza

1. Origin of Kwaanza

Kwaanza is an African-American celebration initiated by Dr. Karenga as both a way to celebrate the new year and a reminder of the history of black communities in the United States. It is patterned on the African celebration of harvest during which tribute is paid to the ancestors and to God while at the same time praying for another benevolent year. The celebration has also become an opportunity for most African-American communities to teach younger generations about African culture, rituals and language. Kiswahili is the privileged language for the seven-day festivities.

2. Importance of Kiswahili

Kiswahili is the language privileged as the main means of communication of the rituals. The word itself, Kwanza is the Kiswahili word for beginning. It comes from the verb ku-anza, that is, to begin. It indicates thus the firm determination of a community to begin a new year of committment, hard work and fulfilment that require collective effort. The week of celebration is also an opportunity to highlight seven principles that serve as the building blocks of Ubiquity. They represent the aspiration and the goals each community sets itself collectively and its members individually. These seven principles are the following:
  1. Umoja (Unity). This is to strive for a principles and harmonious togetherness in the the family, community, nation and world African community.
  2. Kijichagulia (self-Determination). To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for our ourselves and speak for ourselves instead of being defined, named, created for and spoken for by others.
  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility). To build and maintain our community together and makes our sisters' and brothers' problems our problems and solve them together.
  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics). To build our own businesses, control the economics of our own community and share in all its work and wealth.
  5. Nia (Purpose). To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community\ in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  6. Kuumba (Creativity). To do always as much as we can in the way we can in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it.
  7. Imani (Faith). To believe with all our heart in our Creator, our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

3. Kwaanza and Christmas

Kwaanza is celebrated in many African-American communities in December. It has become one of the most visible celebrations beside Christas and Hanukkah during the holidays season.
Return to HomePage | Return to Main Page | Aims of the Course | Books and Documents | Coordinator | Drill Instructor | Future of Kiswahili | Former Students | Kingwana or Copperbelt Kiswahili | Kiswahili I | Kiswahili II | Kiswahili and Kwaanza | Kiswahili Language | Linguistic Map | Method of the course | Multimedia Resources | Professional Organizations | Prospective Students | Self-Paced Program | Swahiliphone Countries