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Menu for a Kwanzaa Karamu or Black History Month dinner

African Food for Kwanzaa or Black History Month

The celebration of Kwanzaa includes a Karamu or African feast, held on the last day of Kwanzaa, December 31. Many groups observe Black History Month with public lectures and exhibits, and perhaps include African foods. African dishes that are related to African-American favorites are especially appropriate for these occasions; for some ideas, see the Greens in Africa and Peanuts in Africa indexes.

Or consider this suggested menu for an African meal:

"Negro History Week" which later became African-American History Month, or Black History Month, began in 1926, thanks to the efforts of historian Carter G. Woodson. He wanted Americans to learn about the accomplishments, despite disadvantages and difficulties, of African-Americans. Woodson chose February because it is the birthmonth of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Black History Month has become an institution in academia, education, media, publishing, and retail.

Kwanzaa is a secular seven-day celebration, beginning each year on December 26, which is observed by many African-Americans. Kwanzaa was developed by Dr. Maulana Karenga and first observed in 1966. It celebrates the African heritage of African-Americans and others of the Africa diaspora. Kwanzaa celebrations emphasize the role of family and community in African-American culture. Many elements of the Kwanzaa celebration are based on traditional African harvest festivals. The word Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza meaning first fruits. While it is worth noting that the vast majority of Africans who were enslaved in the Americas came from the west coast, the Atlantic coast, of Africa which has never been home to the Swahili people or language, Kwanzaa makes use of many Swahili words, for example, the seven days of Kwanzaa: Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles). These are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamma (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), Imani (Faith).

Also see African Food for Kwanzaa or Black History Month.


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