Kwanzaa is a holiday celebration of African heritage and culture that lasts for 7 days and embodies 7 core principles illustrated here by 7 Kwanzaa-tastic critters.
1: Umoja (Unity)
Umoja exemplifies the need to strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
A pair of Groovy Goldendoodles was in attendance at the 2016 MOJA Arts Festival in Charleston, SC where the USPS held a “First Day of Issue” Stamp Ceremony to unveil the new Kwanzaa Stamp. Synthia Saint James, who designed the colorful stamp, was there to help the festival reach a letter-perfect level of unity and joy. (image via Groovy Goldendoodles)
2: Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
Kujichagulia focuses on self-determination as a function of defining and naming ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
Corn and corn-related imagery features prominently in decoration and celebratory dining during Kwanzaa, and the nom-nomming hamster above – presented by the nice folks at The Pipsqueakery – might want to name himself “Cornelius” once he nibbles those niblets down to the cob. (image via The Pipsqueakery)
3: Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
Ujima, or collective work and responsibility, underlines the importance of building and maintaining our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together.
Work and responsibility come together when setting a budget, or as Michelle M from Cooper's Corners sees it, setting a budgie on a can of foodstuffs. Note the Kinara (candle holder) set with the traditional Mishumaa Saba (seven candles) in the background. (image via Cooper's Corner)
4: Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
Ujamaa is a distinctive form of cooperative economics aimed at building and maintaining our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Speaking of things economic, we give you the magnificent Dez (10) Kwanzas banknote from Angola in southwestern Africa. If one Kwanzaa is awesome, ten must be amazing! Actually, 10 Kwanzas is worth just over six cents at current exchange rates but you've gotta admire this 1999-series Dez Kwanzas banknote featuring a pair of antelopes locking horns on the back. (image via todocoleccion)
5: Nia (Purpose)
Nia, or “Purpose”, means making our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
This bears repeating... not that bears of any creed or color celebrate Kwanzaa but the fact remains, we can accomplish great things when we work together with a common purpose. (image via WWF)
6: Kuumba (Creativity)
Kuumba is the principle of creativity in which we always do as much as we can, in any way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Music is one of the creative arts and good music can inspire people to achieve beautiful and beneficial things for their communities. “Musika”, the 1993 release by Italian dance/electronic group Kwanzaa Posse featuring a beautiful African cheetah on the cover, might fit that bill. At the very least, it could do for Kwanzaa what classic Christmas carols have done for Xmas. (image via Enzo Rizzo)
7: Imani (Faith)
Last but not least, Imani or “Faith” is defined as believing with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Faith can carry one far, as can seven horses (plus one for good luck). These spectacular steeds resplendent in the beauty of digitally rendered African kente cloth evoke the complex tapestry of faith, tradition and history drawn upon by the creators of Kwanzaa. Happy Kwanzaa to you and your neigh-bors, in Africa and around the world! (image via v13raptor/Deviant Art)