Celebrate Kwanzaa with these poems and songs about the week-long African American holiday.
Camille Yarborough sings African music behind a traditional "kinara" candelabra during a news preview of the Kwanzaa 2004: We Are Family' festival at the American Museum of Natural History, Dec. 22, 2004, in New York City. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

While many Americans will celebrate Christmas on Sunday, many African-Americans will continue their holiday festivities by recognizing Kwanzaa, which starts Monday. The holiday, which is named after the Swahili term for “first fruits of the harvest,” marks a time when African-Americans celebrate the seven principles on which the holiday was founded: unity, creativity, faith, purpose, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, and cooperative economics.

Just like the many carols that explain and spread the joys of Christmas, there are several songs and poems many African-Americans will sing and recite in honor of the weeklong holiday. Check out a list of a few famous songs and poems about Kwanzaa below:

Celebrate Kwanzaa, song by Bryan McCabe:

Kwanzaa, celebrate Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa, seven days long

Kwanzaa, light the kinara

Kwanzaa, sing along

Kwanzaa, there are seven principles

Kwanzaa, we hold true

Kwanzaa, it’s time to celebrate

Kwanzaa, happy Kwanzaa to you

Kwanzaa, celebrate Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa, happy Kwanzaa to you

Kwanzaa, celebrate Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa, happy Kwanzaa to you

Kwanzaa, celebrate Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa, happy Kwanzaa to you

Kwanzaa Is Here, song by Greta Pedersen:
Habari gani,
Habari gani?
What's new, what's happening?
Kwanzaa is here!

Habari gani,
Habari gani?
What's new, what's happening?
Kwanzaa is here!

From festivals of long ago,
Habari gani?
Comes this celebration.
Kwanzaa is here!

Families come together
Habari gani?
Talk about nguzo saba.
Kwanzaa is here!

Each night light a candle,
Habari gani?
On the kinara.
Kwanzaa is here!

When we work together,
Habari gani?
We can make our dreams come true.
Kwanzaa is here!

Remembering the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa, poem by Vickie M. Oliver-Lawson:

First fruits is what the name Kwanzaa means

It’s celebrated everywhere by kings and queens

Based on seven principles that still exist

If you check out this rhyme, you’ll get the gist

Umoja, a Swahili name for unity

Is the goal we strive for across this country

Kujichagulia means self-determination

We define ourselves, a strong creation.

Ujima or collective work and responsibility

Is how we build and maintain our own community

For if my people have a problem, then so do I

So let’s work through it together with our heads held high.

Ujamaa meaning cooperative economics is nothing new

We support and run our own stores and other businesses, too

Nia is purpose, us developing our potential

As we build our community strong to the Nth exponential

Kuumba is the creative force which lies within our call

As we leave our community much better for all

As a people, let’s move forward by extending our hand

For Imani is the faith to believe that we can.

These seven principles help to make our nation strong

If you live to these ideals, you can’t go wrong

But you must first determine your own mentality

And believe in yourself as you want you to be

And no matter how far, work hard to reach your goal

As we stand, as a people, heads up, fearless and bold.

Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanzaa! poem by Lawrence S. Pertillar:

From the shallow shopping days,

Of Christmas spent.

And gifts selected ...

To induce an increased seduction.

With the onslaught of ornament productions.

May they take these memories ...

And wish those feelings that excited them,


Especially during times ...

That find all who cherish these "things."

Keep within their hearts to discover ...

The thankfulness and joy, Others to them bring!

Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanzaa!

And joyous times to those,

Who are grateful and know ...

They are among the blessed!

However this tradition is done,

That brings those around the world ...

To address their happiness!

And fun shared with everyone.

Unite My Brothers and Sisters, poem by Sonia Dixon:

Here we are on distant shores

Searching for love ones lost

Knowing their pain and suffering

Was an ocean of love lost.

Can't you see the sun is shining

Bringing energies of love all

Come my people unite together

Wake up stand up be the love for all

The bells are ringing it is time

To answer the call of one

Get together my brothers and sisters

It’s time you must unite as one

Unite, Unite, it’s time, it’s time

You must unite as one

Hold together brothers and sisters

It’s time to unite as one.