Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa.
The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among all groups. (http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/kwanzaa-history)
Celebrate With the Denver Public Library
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Kwanzaa holiday, a celebration that honors the African first fruits harvest tradition. Come take part in a festive cross-cultural experience highlighting the principles of Kwanzaa accompanied by music and dance. Light refreshments served. Free and open to the public.
- Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah); To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
Tuesday, December 27, 2 p.m. ~ Virginia Village Branch Library
Tuesday, December 27, 4 p.m. ~ Green Valley Ranch Branch Library
- Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah); To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
Wednesday, December 28, 2 p.m. ~ Pauline Robinson Branch Library
Wednesday, December 28, 6 p.m. ~ Byers Branch Library
- Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah); To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Thursday, December 29, 10:30 a.m. ~ Smiley Branch Library
Thursday, December 29, 2:30 p.m. ~ Blair-Caldwell Branch Library
- Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH);To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Friday, December 30, 1 p.m. ~ Ford-Warren Branch Library
- Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah);To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Saturday, December 31, 11 a.m. ~ Central Library, Children’s Library
Saturday, December 31, 2 p.m. ~ Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales Branch Library
Visit our catalog for more resources about the Kwanzaa holiday celebration.
Engage programming is adult and family programming located at branch libraries throughout the city of Denver. These programs include crafting; music; history; authors; and more. All of our events can be found on the Denver Public Library events calendar and our programming brochure (which are distributed to all of our branch locations).