Section C

Recording 2

Kwanzaa is a cultural festival during which African-Americans celebrate and reflect upon their rich heritage as the products of two worlds. It begins December 26 and lasts for seven days.

Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by Dr. Karenga, a college professor and African-American leader, who believed that a special holiday could help African-Americans meet their goals of building strong families, learning about their history, and creating a sense of unity.

After conducting extensive research in which he studied the festivals of many African groups of people, he decided that the new holiday should be a harvest or "first fruits" celebration, incorporating ideas from many different harvest traditions. Kwanzaa is a KiSwahili word meaning "the first fruits of the harvest."

The East African language of KiSwahili was chosen as the official language of Kwanzaa because it is a non-tribal language, spoken by a large portion of the African population. Also, its pronunciation is easy.

Kwanzaa is based on seven principles which are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. One principle is highlighted each day of the holiday.

In preparation for the celebration, a straw mat is placed on the table, along with a candle holder with seven candles, one black, three red, and three green. The black candle represents the African-American people, the red is for their struggles, and the green represents their hopes for the future.

Other items placed on the table are a variety of fruit, ears of corns, gifts, and a communal unity cup for pouring and sharing drinks.

Each day of Kwanzaa, usually before the evening meal, family and friends gather around the table and someone lights a candle, beginning with the black. After that, candles are lit alternately from left to right. While the candle is being lit, a principle is recited; then each person present takes a turn to speak about the importance that principle has to himself or herself.

Next the ceremony focuses on remembering those who have died. A selected person pours water or juice from the unity cup into a bowl. That person then drinks from the cup and raises it high saying "Harambee" which means "Let's all pull together." All repeat "Harambee!" seven times and each person drinks from the cup. Then names of African-American leaders and heroes are called out, and everyone reflects upon the great things these people did. The ceremony is followed by a meal, and then singing and perhaps listening to African music.


Questions 19-22 are based on the recording you have just heard.

Q19: What does the speaker say about Kwanzaa?

Q20: For what purpose did Dr. Karenga create this special holiday?

Q21: What does the word "Kwanzaa" mean?

Q22: What did people do while each candle was being lit at the Kwanzaa celebration?