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Joyous Kwanzaa! Vocabulary Worth Celebrating

December 2, 2020
Kwanzaa was created by Maulana Karenga in 1966 by as a celebration of African-American culture. It takes place over seven days, from December 26–January 1, and includes gift-giving, feasting, and devotion to seven principles organized around building and strengthening the Black community. Many of the words associated with Kwanzaa come from Swahili; matunda ya kwanza means "first fruits of the harvest."
caftan
Some women wear caftans, often made from brightly colored kente cloth, as part of their Kwanzaa observations. Caftan is a Turkish word that's also used in Persian.
Maya Rudolph looked both extraordinarily glamorous and extraordinarily comfortable in her sequined caftan.
candelabra
Kwanzaa celebrations include lighting candles on a kinara, a seven-branched candelabra. Each candle symbolizes one of the seven principles that the holiday celebrates. Three red candles go on the left, three green on the right, and one black one sits in the center spot. A new candle is lit each day, corresponding to that day's principle.
“It’s like India,” Shoba said, watching him tend his makeshift candelabra.
cooperative
Ujamaa means "cooperative economics" in Swahili. This principle encourages members of the Black community to create and support their own businesses, building a strong financial and economic foundation that benefits everyone.
Eligible grant applicants include county conservation districts; municipalities; qualified conservation nonprofits; county cooperative extension natural resource programs; public and private schools; and scout groups.
creativity
The principle of Kumbaa refers to creativity, to the the resourceful use of one's talent and imagination to improve the community on an ongoing basis.
The course will introduce students to important historical events and leaders, focusing on the leadership, strength, intellect, and creativity of the women and men who shaped African American History.
dashiki
Dashikis are often worn as part of Kwanzaa celebrations. Unlike the many Swahili words associated with Kwanzaa, dashiki originated in West Africa.
Brief scenes find the artist backstage just prior to greeting the crowd or buying a dashiki before the set at the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market.
determination
Kujichagulia means "self determination," referring to the essential importance of individuals and communities naming, defining, and speaking for themselves.
I do think there’s a will and determination here and a spirit that we will prevail.
faith
Imani, meaning "faith", reflects the importance of belief — in the principles, oneself, one's community, and in the righteousness of the struggle. Faith comes from the Latin fidere, meaning "to trust," which in turn comes from the Greek peithesthai, which means "to be persuaded" or "to obey."
The help “just restored my faith in humanity a little bit.”
feast
There are also remains of long halls, probably used for ceremonies and feasts that went on for days.
harvest
They later allowed residents to return to Gnadenhütten to harvest their crops.
libation
Ceremonial toasts are given with libations in a Kikombe cha Umoja, or "unity cup." Libation is Latin, from the verb libare, meaning "to pour out wine in honor of a deity."
Some got down on their knees to pray and pour libations on the ground in Taylor’s honor.
principle
The seven principles of Kwanzaa were originally known as Nguzo Saba, or "the seven principles of African heritage." Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the principles.
“I subscribe to the principles of what so many demonstrators, me among them, were marching for this summer,” she said.
purpose
Nia refers to the shared purpose of nurturing a vital and dynamic community. Purpose is a synonym for "goal" or "objective."
“We’re working to create a new vision and purpose for The Flea through a residency program in which artists will be paid,” Hendryx wrote.
responsibility
Ujima refers to the collective work and responsibility everyone shares in building and maintaining a community.
“Now it’s our responsibility, and it’s very hard.”
unity
Umoja, meaning "unity," describes a state of existence where members of a community or society agree on core beliefs and goals and the ways to achieve them. Unity comes from the Latin unus, meaning "one," which is also the root of unified, unanimous, and unique.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are expected to be full participants in the Clippers’ training camp this week, helping the team build unity they lacked last season.

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