*According to Kwanzaa founder Dr. Maulana Karenga, there is no way to understand and appreciate the meaning and message of Kwanzaa without understanding and appreciating its focus on values:

“Kwanzaa inherits this focus from Kawaida, the African philosophical framework in which it was created.

Kawaida philosophy is a communitarian African philosophy which is an ongoing synthesis of the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world.

Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community.”

These values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles. Developed by Dr. Karenga, the Nguzo Saba stand at the heart of the origin and meaning of Kwanzaa, for it is these values which are not only the building blocks for community but also serve to reinforce and enhance them.

The seven “life” principles of Kwanzaa are:  Umjoa (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).

(source: UnityFirst.com)