How Kwanzaa Works

By: Stephanie Watson  | 

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa centers around Seven Principles, Nguzo Saba (En-GOO-zoh Sah-BAH), which represent the values of family, community and culture for Africans and people of African descent to live by. The principles were developed by Kwanzaa founder Dr. Maulana Karenga based on the ideals of the first-fruit harvests.

The principles are:


  • Umoja (oo-MOE-jah) - Unity - Joining together as a family, community and race
  • Kujichagulia (koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah) - Self-determination - Responsibility for one's own future
  • Ujima (oo-JEE-mah) - Collective Work and Responsibility - Building the community together and solving any problems as a group
  • Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) - Cooperative Economics - The community building and profiting from its own businesses
  • Nia (nee-AH) - Purpose - The goal of working together to build community and further the African culture
  • Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) - Creativity - Using new ideas to create a more beautiful and successful community
  • Imani (ee-MAH-nee) - Faith - Honoring African ancestors, traditions and leaders and celebrating past triumphs over adversity

The principles are illustrated during the Kwanzaa festivities by the Seven Symbols.