On the first day of Kwanzaa the black candle is lit in the Kinara. The black candle represents the first principle – Umoja (oo-MOH-jah): Unity. The person who lights the candle might make a statement about the first principle and its meaning. Sometimes a passage or poem is read relating to what the principle means and how it relates to their life.
Then the Umoja (Unity Cup) might be filled with fruit juice and shared among those gathered. Each takes a drink and passes to the next.
Some families prefer to use a Unity cup for each member, or the cup can just be left in the center of the Kwanzaa table.
After the sharing of the Unity cup the candles are extinguished till the next day.
The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa are:
- Umoja (oo-MOH-jah): Unity
Success starts with Unity. Unity of family, community, nation and race.
- Kujichagulia (koo-jee-chah-goo-LEE-ah): Self-Determination
To be responsible for ourselves. To create your own destiny.
- Ujima (oo-JEE-mah): Collective work and responsibility
To build and maintain your community together. To work together to help one another within your community.
- Ujamaa (oo-jah-MAH): Collective economics
To build, maintain, and support our own stores, establishments, and businesses.
- Nia (NEE-ah): Purpose
To restore African American people to their traditional greatness. To be responsible to Those Who Came Before (our ancestors) and to Those Who Will Follow (our descendants).
- Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah): Creativity
Using creativity and imagination to make your communities better than what you inherited.
- Imani (ee-MAH-nee): Faith
Believing in our people, our families, our educators, our leaders, and the righteousness of the African American struggle.