(This article is part of a series exploring and applying the seven principles of Kwanzaa.)

“Habari Gani?” is Swahili meaning “What’s the News?” It is the special greeting used during Kwanzaa. The reply is the principle for that day. For example:

Habri Gani? Kujichagulia

The second day of Kwanzaa is Kujichagulia (koo–jee–cha–goo–LEE–yah), which means Self-determination. To define yourself, name yourself, create for yourself, and speak for yourself. To be responsible for your own conduct and behavior.

Kujichagulia demands that you define, defend, and develop yourself instead of allowing or encouraging others to do this. It is a statement about how you think about or perceive yourself and your commitment to self-determination, and it is a call to step into your own greatness.

During Kwanzaa, a kinara holding seven candles – three red ones on the left, three green ones on the right with a black candle in the center – is used. Like the lighting of the menorah in Hanukkah, one candle, representing one principle, is lit each day.

Today, we light the red candle, symbolic of struggle. The lesson is that progress in any area of life comes through effort and work.

[Source: Learn more about the history of Kwanzaa here.]

Are You Positively All That You Ought to Be?

As this year winds down, take time to reflect on how you will practice Kujichgulia (self-determination) in the New Year?

Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful. — Margaret J. Wheatley

Dr. Karenga, founder of Kwanzaa, encourages us to meditate on the “expansive meaning and awesome responsibility of being African (and human) in the world.”

He wrote in the Righteous Reflection on Being African: Think about your life and the world, about critical issues that confront you and the world, and your responsibility to understand and engage them. Ask yourself, “Where do I stand as a representative and embodiment of the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense?” 

Kujichagulia asks that we measure ourselves in the mirror of the best of our history and culture through three fundamental questions which build on the insights of Frantz Fanon, Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary, and writer:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Am I really who I say I am?
  3. Am I all that I ought to be?

These questions challenge us as difference makers to expand our self-concept and our vision of what is possible. This day calls us to honor the unprecedented courage and achievements of the heroes who paved the way for us, as we strive to live up to the standards they set.

As you reflect on the three questions above, leave me a comment to tell me how you will practice Kujichgulia (self-determination) in the new year? 

Make a strong decision today to live your highest purpose. Get coaching, accountability, and support to step into your own greatness. Join One Degree Shift. I would love to support you! Being part of a like-minded community will increase your determination and motivation to make the changes necessary to live a more fulfilling life.


Read how One Degree Shift is practicing the Kwanzaa principle of Umoja (oo-MO-jah), which means unity.

Get more helpful ideas on how to practice the Kwanzaa principles this year.

  • Umoja means Unity
  • Kujichagulia means Self-determination
  • Ujima means Collective Work and Responsibility or Working Together
  • Ujaama means Cooperative Economics  or Supporting Each Other
  • Nia means Purpose
  • Kuumba means Creativity
  • Imani means Faith