31st annual Kwanzaa Celebration

Robert Ellis lights a candle representing one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa during the Nia Cultural Center’s 31st annual Kwanzaa celebration at the Old Central Cultural Center in Galveston on Dec. 29, 2018. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are Umoja, or unity, Kujichagulia, or self-determination, Ujima, or collective work and responsibility, Ujamaa, or cooperative economics, Nia, or purpose, Kuumba, or creativity, and Imani, or faith.

For the past 53 years, Kwanzaa has been celebrated by millions around the world as a pan-African holiday tradition created by Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University-Long Beach, as a way to create a sense of togetherness in African-American communities.

Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits,” was derived from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza.” And, unlike Christmas, Hanukkah or Ramadan, Kwanzaa isn’t tied to any religion and is celebrated simply as a cultural holiday, said Sue Johnson, executive director of Galveston-based Nia Cultural Center.

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