View OED entry

Kwanzaa noun earlier than 1971

OED contributor Fred Shapiro has supplied an example from 1970.

The winter festival of Kwanzaa was initiated in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, an African-American activist and scholar, but the earliest example in the OED is from 1971:

1971 Pittsburgh Courier 9 Jan. 24/2 African families very often celebrate Kwanza instead of the commercial Christmas of this country.

An apparent example dating from 1969 in the periodical Habari Barua  is currently being verified, but that still leaves a three-year gap. Can you help us fill it?

Posted by OED_Editor on 25 September 2012 8.36
Comments: 6

  • OED_Editor

    OED contributor Garson O’Toole e-mailed us an example from 1970, in the spelling “Kwanza”:

    1970 _Boston Globe_ 19 Dec. 34 (TV listing), Celebration of ‘Kwanza’, a traditional African holiday celebrating the harvesting of the ‘first-fruits’ or crops of the season. Sisters Fulani and Kadijab explain Kwanza.

    • OED_Editor

       And longtime OED contributor Fred Shapiro sent a slightly earlier 1970 example:

      1970 _Bay State Banner_ (Boston, Mass.) 3 Dec. 3 The ‘Buy Black’ for Christmas and Kwanza holiday movements will be explored as well as the proposed criteria for the establishment of a Black Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

  • Hb1616

    Habari barua, Brothers and Sisters for African Unity, 1969, p. 68:
    Kwanzaa (a word meaning “first”) is a celebration which brings our people together at the end of the year in acknowledgement and exultation of our collective achievements during the year.The time of the Kwanzaa celebration is December …”
    The article mentions Karenga,too, but the date need verification.

  • OED_Editor

    Thank you – this looks promising, especially if our current 1969 lead can’t be verified.

  • New York, Volume 2
    New York Magazine Company, 1969
    “Celebrate the spirit of Kwanzaa, as poet Arthur Wilson talks about the African-American holiday of harvest …”