Making Kwanzaa Principles Healthy Principles

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Forty years ago, Dr. Ron Karenga, a civil rights activist and college professor, created Kwanzaa to introduce seven values common among most African societies to African Americans and the world. When activated, these important values can strengthen family, community and culture among Black men, women, children and family / community groups of all kinds. Kwanzaa is a not a religious observation, but can certainly be viewed as a celebration of spirituality. Kwanzaa is not an alternative to Christmas, but because it is observed as Christmas ends, it provides opportunity for seven days of festivity for family and friends. Kwanzaa invites participants to meditate on and interpret its values in ways that are relevant to our individual and collective goals.

The Community Health Communications Network (CHCN), an Atlanta–based initiative that supports good health behaviors among Black Georgians, thinks the principles of Kwanzaa can be well applied as healthy living principles. With African Americans at the forefront of every lethal disease type, the principles of Kwanzaa offer new ways to think about how we can heal ourselves through positive and culturally relevant action steps. During this holiday season and throughout the coming year, we challenge you to put the principles of Kwanzaa to work with the goal of increasing the physical, mental and spiritual health of African Americans everywhere.

The Principles

1st Kwanzaa Principle: Umoja or Unity
Health Principle: Recognize the unity of your body, mind and spirit.

2nd Kwanzaa Principle: Kujichagulia or Self–Determination
Health Principle: It’s within your power to determine what your future health will be. Act on it.

3rd Kwanzaa Principle: Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility
Health Principle: Make collective partnerships of family members, your health care team and friends to realize your healthy living goals.

4th Kwanzaa Principle: Ujamaa or Cooperative Economics
Health Principle: Buy food from local farmer’s markets and co–ops. Food will be fresher and you’ll be supporting businesses in your community.

5th Kwanzaa Principle: Nia or Purpose
Health Principle: Good health is not accidental. Make health your purposeful objective every day.

6th Kwanzaa Principle: Kuumba or Creativity
Health Principle: Use imagination to keep diet and exercise routines interesting and fun.

7th Kwanzaa Principle: Imani or Faith
Health Principle: Believe that you are an important part of Divine Creation. Have faith in your ability to heal yourself and the world.

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