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Umoja: Unity

The Kwanzaa series

Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Africana Studies at California State University, created Kwanzaa in 1966. This holiday was created in response to the Watts Riots in Los Angeles in 1965 as a way to bring African-Americans together as a community.

The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase ‘matunda ya kwanza’ which means first fruits, or harvest, in Swahili.

The principals of Kwanzaa are unintentionally supported by scripture. Compound words are separated to enjoin scripture to enable and recognize the principle as embraced by the Word.

The kinara is the wooden candle holder used in Kwanzaa celebrations in the United States. During the week-long celebration of Kwanzaa, seven candles are placed in the kinara - three red on the left, three green on the right, and a single black candle in the center. The word kinara is a Swahili word that means candle holder.

The candles are lite each day illuminating the principle of each day's celebration; here is the order to the lighting of the lights which starts with the center candle which is black, representing Umoja: or translated, Unity. The Umoja candle is used to light all the candles. On the immediate right of center; on the second day, we light the first red candle from Umoja representing Kujichagulia: translated Self-Determination. On the third day the principle of Ujima: translated Collective Work and Responsibility represented by the green candle on the immediate left of the center. Followed by the fourth lighting on the fourth day with the next red candle representing the light of Ujamaa: translated Cooperative Economics. On the fifth day we light the fifth candle representing Nia: translated Purpose. The sixth day we light the sixth candle representing Kuumba: translated Creativity. The final day we light the seventh candle representing Imani: translated Faith. The numeral pattern is 6-4-2-1-3-5-7 always using the Umoja candle to light the rest in the order aforementioned. In a one-day community program all candles will be lite using the same order.

Kwanzaa has seven core principles, or Nguzo Saba:


Umoja: Unity

Represented by the Black candle on the Kinara, in the center, symbolizes the illumination of the principle Unity.

The first of the seven spiritual principles is Unity spoken in Swahili- Umoja. The principle of Unity is to embrace individually the things in common for the needs of the many. In the principles of Jesus we all speak the same thing, we have the same mind (thoughts) and execute the same judgment so that there are no division between us as brother and sisters in the community of Faith.

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Eternal Father, we thank you for the spirit of Unity that You have brought us by Your Son, Jesus Christ. We praise You for the unity of speech we share with a spirit of oneness so there are no divisions among us. We declare and decree blessings, so that we may be joined perfectly with the same mind and the same judgment. This we pray with an anointing in the name of Jesus. Amen.


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