The greetings during Kwanzaa are
in Swahili. Swahili
is a Pan-African language and is chosen to reflect African Americans' commitment to the whole of Africa and African
culture rather than to a specific ethnic or national group or culture. The greetings are to reinforce awareness
of and commitment to the Seven Principles. It is: "Habari gani?" and the answer is each of the principles
for each of the days of Kwanzaa, i.e., "Umoja", on the first day, "Kujichagulia", on the second
day and so on.
Gifts are given mainly to children, but must always include a book and a heritage symbol. The book is to emphasize
the African value and tradition of learning stressed since ancient Egypt, and the heritage symbol to reaffirm and
reinforce the African commitment to tradition and history.
Kwanzaa celebrants spend their seven-day festivities
preparing for the final feast, or "karumu," on December 31. This culminating spread of good food and
fun includes African-inspired
cuisine and ceremony.
The karumu room or venue might be decorated in
the colors of black unity: red, black, and green.
And the holiday table originally outlined by creator Maulana Karenga should include seven symbolic items:
a straw placemat
a holder for seven candles
a variety of fruit
an ear of corn for each child in the home
a unity cup
and modest gifts
Who better to teach us about Kwanzaa than a child?
Straight from Sesame Street!