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By Nehemiah D. Frank


Don’t let the name fool you. Kwanzaa, a Swahili word meaning “first” isn’t a religious event. The holiday merely seeks to remind and celebrate the love of Blackness, that’s everything that makes black people beautiful. 

Kwanzaa is a time to reflect on family, community, and African people worldwide, including those living in the diaspora (the West Indies, Caribbean Islands, and the Americas). 

It’s a seven-day-period that falls between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Some 30 million people in the African diaspora, who desire a connection to their roots, celebrate this holiday every year. 

If you’re worried about having to skip Christmas or New Year’s, there’s no need to worry. You can celebrate both. 

Here’s how to participate: 

Each evening, gather with family, friends, and or community and celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Unity, Self-determination, Collective work and responsibility, Cooperative economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. Every time you gather, light a candle to mark each principle. 

When you greet your friends, be sure to say the Swahili greeting “Habari Gani,” which means “what’s the news?”  

  • December 26 Umoja Unity
  • December 27 Kujichagulia Self-determination
  • December 28 Ujima Collective work and responsibility
  • December 29 Ujamaa Cooperative economics
  • December 30 Nia Purpose
  • December 31 Kuumba Creativity
  • January 1 Imani Faith

What you will need:

Mkeka – A woven straw mat

Mazao – Fresh fruit

Kinara – Candle holder

Mishumaa Saba – Seven candles

  • 3 green candles — representing hope 
  • 3 red — the struggle 
  • 1 black — the people

Muhindi – Ears of Corn

Zawadi – Small gifts for children

Kikombe cha Umoja – Unity cup

If you can’t get every item needed to celebrate Kwanzaa in its fullness, remember what’s most important, gathering with family, friends, and members of your community. 

Happy Kwanzaa! 


Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times. He graduated from Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science at Oklahoma State University. Nehemiah is an Editorial Community Advisory Board Member at the Tulsa World, in Tulsa, Oklahoma and a Blogger for Education Post in Chicago, IL. He has been featured on NBC, Blavity, and Tulsa People. Nehemiah is also an Educator and Administrator at Sankofa School of the Performing Arts in Tulsa, OK, a 2017 Terence Crutcher Foundation honoree, a recipient of the 2017 METCares Foundation Community Impact Award, and TED Talk Alumni.

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...