How Kwanzaa Works

The Holiday Feast

On December 31, observers hold a great feast, or Kwanzaa Karamu. The feast is about more than food -- it also is a forum for cultural expression that includes music, dance and readings.

A typical program for a Kwanzaa Karamu might look something like this:

  • Kukaribisha (Welcoming) - Introduction and welcome, followed by music, dancing, poetry and other performances
  • Kuumba (Remembering) - Cultural reflections
  • Kuchunguza Tena Na Kutoa Ahadi Tena (Reassessment and Recommitment) - A short speech by a guest lecturer
  • Kushangilla (Rejoicing) - Reading of the libation statement, followed by a communal drink from the Unity Cup and the reading of the names of black ancestors and heroes, followed by a meal
  • Tamshi la tutaonan (Farewell Statement) - The reading of a farewell statement accompanied by a call for greater unity

The food served during Kwanzaa is a blend of Caribbean, African and South American flavors. Some popular dishes are fried okra, plantains, fried chicken, black bean soup, baked ham and gumbo. A large mat (Mkeka) is placed in the center of the room, and all of the food is prominently displayed on it.

For more information on Kwanzaa and related topics, check out the links on the next page.

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