December 27, 2002

A Twelve Year Annual Tradition of Community Kwanzaa Celebration

The Pan-African Associations of America (PAAA) has worked hard in San Diego to promote the community celebration of Kwanzaa and will celebrate its 12th year tradition of observing the first day of Kwanzaa.

The first day of Kwanzaa is known as the day of Umoja (oo-moe-jah, Unity) and is on December 26th. This year the PAAA has planned a full day of events in the Fourth District at the Malcolm X Library. In addition to continuing this annual tradition, the PAAA has also expanded its Kwanzaa programming to an additional day and will also host a program on the second day of Kwanzaa which is known as the day of Kugichagulia (koo-gee-chah-goo-lee-ah, Self-Determination).

The Umoja Day program (December 26th) will teach the symbols of Kwanzaa and provide them with fun activities that are centered around the idea of Umoja. Umoja teaches the importance of Unity as a family, community and national collective process.

The expansion of the PAAA committment to quality Kwanzaa activities will take place on Friday, December 27th at the Malcolm X Library. The day of Kugichagulia (Self-Determination) will feature a roundtable discussion concerning various interests of African people who want to explore the important issues of African incarceration, African refugee adjustment, African culture in the local school system, African-centered substance abuse treatment programs, and the issue of cultural empowerment as a political tool to collective self-determination within a multicul-tural interdependent society.

This open community forum will serve as a think tank process offering views that are not generally heard in the San Diego African American community. Kwanzaa promotes understanding through dialogue and understanding its origins is crucial to its proper celebration. We would like to quote the originator of the holiday.

“Kwanzaa is an African American holiday celebrated from 26 December thru 1 January. It is based on the agricultural celebrations of Africa called ‘the first-fruits’ celebrations which were times of harvest, ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment, and celebration.

“Therefore, Kwanzaa is a time for ingathering of African Americans for celebration of their heritage and their achievements, reverence for the Creator and creation, commemoration of the past, recommitment to cultural ideals and celebration of the good.

“Kwanzaa was created out of the philosophy of Kawaida, which is a cultural nationalist philosophy that argues that the key challenge in Black people’s life is the challenge of culture, and that what Africans must do is to discover and bring forth the best of their culture, both ancient and current, and use it as a foundation to bring into being models of human excellence and possibilities to enrich and expand our lives.

“It was created in the midst of our struggles for liberation in the 1960s and was part of our organization Us’ effort to create, recreate and circulate African culture as an aid to building community, enriching Black consciousness, and reaffirming the value of cultural grounding for life and struggle.

“Kwanzaa is celebrated by millions of people of African descent throughout the world African community. As a cultural holiday, it is practiced by Africans from all religious traditions, all classes, all ages and generations, and all political persuasions on the common ground of their Africanness in all its historical and current diversity and unity.” - Dr. Maulana Karenga, The Creator of Kwanzaa, “Kwanzaa, A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture”, published by University of Sankore Press, Los Angeles.

The Nguzo Saba consist of the following principles: Umoja (Unity), Kugichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). The first Kwanzaa celebrations took place in Los Angeles and San Diego in 1965.

Now is also a good time for families, organizations, agencies and government facilities to start collecting all of the symbols needed to put out a Kwanzaa display for the Kwanzaa season. It is also a great time to find out what Kwanzaa activities will be taking place in communities where individuals live outside of San Diego. These programs can always use volunteers, donations and marekting support. Volunteering to assist them is a practical application of the Nguzo Saba.

While Kwanzaa is an African celebration, it encourages those who respect African people and their contributions to humanity to celebrate us as well. For future details about the Pan-African Associations of America Kwanzaa program email us at or call 619-501-2748.

Return to the Frontpage