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Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture (Commemorative) Hardcover – October, 1997

9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up--The complete Kwanzaa book that educators and parents have been waiting for has arrived. Written by the creator of the holiday, this book presents the continental African and African-American origins of the celebration, a chapter on each of the Seven Principles, explanations of the meaning of related symbols, suggested activities, and a wrap-up section in which Karenga answers frequently asked questions. The beginning chapter provides a concise overview of the holiday, with subsequent chapters providing in-depth information on the "first-fruits" or harvest festivals that provided the basis for Kwanzaa. The attractive layout features plenty of white space with text blocks broken up by both full-color and black-and-white photographs (from the author's very first Kwanzaa celebration) and illustrations. This book belongs in every library, both as a reference book and for general circulation. A chapter on Swahili terminology and Kwanzaa greetings is included and a bibliography provides extensive references for those interested in further research.--LF

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 143 pages
  • Publisher: University of Sankore Press; Cmv Sub edition (October 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0943412218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0943412214
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 7.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Darden on December 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Karenga is at his best in distilling his rationale for establishing the holiday and in laying out the genesis of the logic for Kwanzaa's symbols and rituals. This is truly both a spiritually moving and intellectually stimulating book. My family and I have practiced the holiday in our home and with friends for 22 years, and we re-read Karenga's book every year and take something new into our annual celebrations. For the novice, the book does not offer much to teach you how to be more creative with your celebration of the holiday, but I would start with Karenga to understand the soul of Kwanzaa, and then try one of the other Kwanzaa titles to further explore how best to evolve and enhance your own celebration. Another Karenga title I would recommend is, "Selections from the Husia".
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Chambuzi on December 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Maulana Karenga's most recent work on the celebration of Kwanzaa he created in 1966, is simply the best work on the holiday. In fact, of the three books that Dr. Karenga has written, this text is the authoritative work on the history, origins and practices of Kwanzaa. Dr. Karenga created his cultural nationalist philosophy, Kawaida (tradition in Kiswhalli), in 1965, along with his organization US and is one of the leading Afrocentric writers today. He has 2 Ph.D.'s and is arguably the most important African-American intellectual of our era. Dr. Karenga's Kawaida philosophy and Nguzo Saba (7 principles) have influenced the development of independent Black schools, rites of passage programs, social service programs using the 7 principles, Afrocentric thought and practice, development of African wedding ceremonies--Akika, naming ceremonies--Akika and funerals--Maziko,the creation of independent Black organizations utilizing aspects of his philosophy and Black Studies programs on college campuses all use his other definitive text, Black Studies. In a word, Maulana Karenga is the most important "independent" thinker in modern African American intellecual history.
Keep Pushing and Kwanzaa Yenu Iwe Na Heri!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Malaika Tawasufi on December 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you're searching for the most definitive text on the African American holiday of Kwanzaa, look no further! Dr. Maulana Karenga, the creator of this beautiful holiday, has written a very readable text for children and wonderful resource for parents, educators and all of us that want to celebrate the holiday correctly.

Dr. Karenga covers the essentials of Kwanzaa which includes the holiday's origins, the fundamental activities, its symbols, the essential values, greetings, Swahili pronounciations, decorating tips and much, much more.

What I personally appreciate about Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture is its stress on values and the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles. These are the essential pillars of the holiday. Those principles are: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). We're taught to celebrate a different principle every day from December 26 to January 1.

I suggest a copy of the book for your library and one for a very special friend. Be a part of the world African community that celebrates this beautiful, cultural holiday! Thirty million Africans worldwide can't be wrong!

Malaika Tawasufi
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nia on December 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book was excellent at describing the origin of Kwanzaa and how it should be celebrated. My family and I have celebrated Kwanzaa for 10 years and found this to be the best book I have read on the subject. The seven principles of Kwanzaa is great to teach chidren of any age. These principles inspired me and my husband to start our own business (...)
Enjoy the book and enjoy celebrating the Kwanzaa celebration.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Maulana Karenga (born 1941) is an author, political activist, and was Chairman of the Africana Studies Department at CSU Long Beach until his retirement in 2002; he is perhaps best known as the creator of Kwanzaa, which he developed in 1966. This 1998 book is his third on Kwanzaa; the earlier books were The African American Holiday of Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community & Culture (1989) and "Kwanzaa: Origin, Concepts, Practice" (1977).

He wrote in the Preface, "As interest in Kwanzaa continues to grow, new and enduring questions arise about its origins, values, symbols and fundamental activities. This volume is offered to answer these questions and to present Kwanzaa in the most authentic, effective and useful way as an expression of the rich and ancient legacy of African culture as well as a living tradition of great and enduring value." (Pg. xv)

He identifies the "five fundamental activities" of Kwanzaa as: Ingathering of the people; Special reverence for the Creator and Creation; Commemoration of the past; Recommitment to our highest ideals; and Celebration of the good. (Pg. 4-6) He explains that "The greetings during Kwanzaa are in Swahili... Celebrants also greet by saying 'Heri za Kwanzaa' or 'Happy Kwanzaa.'" (Pg. 9) Later, he adds, "saying 'heri' means happiness, blessedness, good luck, success, and just about anything else good." (Pg. 129)

He notes, "Kwanzaa is a product of creative cultural synthesis... of both Continental African and Diasporan African cultural values and elements." (Pg. 15) He also observes that although the Swahili word "kwanza" ("first," as in "first fruits") has only one "a" at the end, "At the very beginning...
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