The African-American tradition of Kwanzaa begins today and lasts until January 1.
The seven-day family celebration was developed by Dr. Maulana Karenga (1941-), professor of Africana studies at California State University, Long Beach in 1966. Kwanzaa (Swahili matunda ya kwanza, or "first fruits") evolved from the traditional African agricultural harvest celebration.
"Kwanzaa speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense," Karenga said.
Each day a candelabrum, the kinari is lit to celebrate Kwanzaa's empowering spiritual themes. The themes are based on Nguzo Saba, "the seven guiding principles:"
Kwanzaa reaffirms African-American culture and celebrates the goodness of life. "These universal principles," said President George W. Bush, "inspire us as we work together for a future of freedom, hope, and opportunity for all."
As Olympic hero Jesse Owens advised about honoring life, "Find the good. It's all around you. Find it, showcase it, and you'll start believing in it."
Celebrations unify hearts.