Kwanzaa

   Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan African Holiday founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, with the intent to bring the black community together.  Observed over a period of seven days from December 26th to January 1st, this celebration of family, community and culture is now practiced by over 18 million people worldwide. A non-religious holiday meant to bring all of the African diaspora together, the celebration was designed to strengthen community, reaffirm common identity, purpose and direction.  


The word Kwanzaa is drawn from the Swahili phrase “Matunda Ya Kwanza”, which means first fruits. Swahili is a trade language used to facilitate communication between different language groups, this became a popular language in the Pan-African movement who sought to bring together Africans from all back grounds. Kwanzaa introduces and reinforces the Nguzo Saba (the Seven Principles.) The seven basic values of African culture that contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture.  The Nguzo Saba both reinforce and enhance the building blocks of community. Each day of Kwanzaa is focused on the reflection and practice of one of these principles.   


  1.   Umoja (Unity)  To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.  
  2.   Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)  To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.    
  3.   Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)  To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together. 
  4.   Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)  To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.   
  5.   Nia (Purpose)  To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness. 
  6.   Kuumba (Creativity)  To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. 
  7.   Imani (Faith)  To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.    tml>

  The Hamilton Hill Arts Center pioneered the celebration of Kwanzaa in the Capital Region and has been celebrating the holiday for 46 years. We are now part of the Kwanzaa coalition which was created in 2013, as a group of community organizations committed to working together to plan the annual Kwanzaa Celebration in the Capital Region that would encompass the seven days of Kwanzaa.  The holiday is kicked off in a grand collaborative event celebrated in the New York state Museum in Albany NY, each of the following days are celebrated by a different organization in the Coalition.   

Kwanzaa Schedule of Events

  1. December 26 6-9pm Umoja New York State Museum Albany NY
  2. December 27 7-9pm  Kujichagulia Mount Olivet Missionary Baptist Church, 1068 Park Ave Schenectady NY
  3. December 28 Ujima African American Cultural Center, Trinity South Campus, 20 Warren St., Albany, NY
  4. December 29 Ujamaa Albany Barn LOC     
  5. December 30 Nia Hamilton Hill Arts Center,409 Schenectady St., Schenectady, NY     
  6. December 31 Kuumba Henry Johnson Charter , 30 Watervliet Ave, Albany, NY 12206    
  7. January 1 Imani 6-9 Hamilton Hill Arts Center, Schenectady City Mission 


Download a Copy of the 2017 Kwanzaa Flyer

capital region kwanzaa poster_11x17_17 (1) (pdf)

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