Saturday, December 31, 2005

World's only Kwanzaa stamps?

The Johnson County [Kansas] Sun reports that this week marked the 39th commemoration of Kwanzaa, the non-religious, non-political celebration of traditions, ancestors and culture that is observed worldwide by more than 18 million people of African descent.

Although I have searched high and low, I have yet to find another Kwanzaa stamp issued by any other country besides the United States. One design was released in 1997 and another in 2004.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, who designed the celebration as a way to preserve, revitalize and promote African American culture.

The first Kwanzaa stamp, designed by Synthia Saint James, was issued in 1997 as a 32¢ stamp. The same design was used for the 33¢, 34¢ and 37¢ Kwanzaa stamps of 1999, 2001 and 2002, respectively.

The name Kwanzaa is rooted in the phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits of the harvest" in Kiswahili. While Kwanzaa itself is only about 40 years old, first-fruit harvest celebrations have been celebrated in Africa for thousands of years, with recorded histories of the celebrations from the ancient Egyptian and Nubian periods.

Kwanzaa celebrates seven principles known as Nguzo Saba, the principles are meant to reflect tradition, reason and guiding values that contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture. Each of Kwanzaa's seven days is dedicated to one of the principles. The principles are umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity) and imani (faith).

If you know of another Kwanzaa stamp, please e-mail me at

For more on Kwanzaa, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM