Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963879 | Print ISBN: 9781412926942 | Online ISBN: 9781412963879| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Kwanzaa is a 7-day African American and pan-African holiday that celebrates family, community, and culture. It begins on December 26 and continues through January 1. Based on ancient African first-fruits harvest celebrations, its name is derived from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, which literally means “first fruits.” This entry recalls the history and describes current celebration. The celebrations of first-fruits harvests are recorded from the earliest African history and have various names depending upon the language of the society in which they are observed. Examples of such festivals are Pert-en-Min in ancient Egypt, Umkhozi in Zululand, Incwala in Swaziland, Odwira in Ashantiland, and Odu Ijesu in Yorubaland. Dr. Maulana Karenga, an activist scholar and now professor of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created the U.S. Kwanzaa celebration in 1966 in the midst of the Black Freedom Movement. Kwanzaa was created to reaffirm African Americans' rootedness in ...