Kwanzaa -- the Afro-American holiday -- starts tomorrow and goes through Jan. 1.
Developed in 1966 by African history professor M. Ron Karenga, chairman of the Pan-African Us Organization, Kwanzaa celebrates the end-of-the-year harvest and centers around these seven principles -- Nguzu Saba -- for which each day of the holiday is named:
1. Umoja, unity.
2. Kujichagulia, self-determination.
3. Ujima, collective work and responsibility.
4. Ujamaa, cooperative economics.
5. Nia, purpose.
6. Kuumba, creativity.
7. Imani, faith.
Participants greet one another with the salutation "Habari Gani," which means in Swahili "What's Happening?" and respond with the name of the day.
Kwanzaa observance is rich with symbols. A straw mat, representing the foundation of the black race, is placed on a table or on the floor. On the mat are placed other symbols: the kinara, a candle holder for African ancestors; the misumaa saba, seven candles representing the Nguzu Saba; muhindi, ears of corn -- one for each child; the kikombe, the unity cup; the mazao, the fruits of labor and the zawadi, gifts rewarding achievements.
For the formal Kwanzaa celebration, the family gathers before the kinara. The eldest member pours water, wine or juice into a container filled with earth. As the liquid is poured, others recall ancestors or deceased persons who are important to them. Then the eldest sips from the unity cup and passes it to the next person. When all have sipped, they say individually or in unison Harambe, which means "pull together."
If possible, each member of the family takes a turn lighting the day's candle, calling out the day's principle and leading a discussion of its meaning.
On the night of Dec. 31, families frequently host or attend a karamu or feast, characterized by philosophical and political discussion, entertainment and spiritual rejuvenation.
Within the family, presents are either exchanged daily or all given Jan. 1. It is stressed that gifts be inexpensive, such as a heritage symbol, books, tools, educational toys, musical instruments and art supplies.
For more information and a list of Kwanzaa community activities, call Ujamaa Bookstore, 265-0965.