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COLUMBIA - People who observe Kwanzaa, which starts Tuesday, are using the holiday to "celebrate culture and tradition."

Columbia resident Nia Imani said what's most important is family history.

"It helps you to determine the direction you might want to go in. It’s like knowing yourself when you know your own history."

Dr. Ronald Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 setting it as a week to celebrate African American culture.

Each day of the week represents one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).

Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate with African symbols, art and colors. Seven candles in black, red and green are used, one for each principle. Black represent African people and their heritage, red represents the struggle of African's ancestors and green is a symbol of future and hope.

Imani says the holiday isn’t just for African Americans. All the ideas Kwanzaa celebrates can be shared with everyone. 

“Please, so many of us have African in us,” she said.

Imani sad she hopes more people will embrace the holiday.

“If you want to just learn, that’s cool,” Imani said. “If you want to practice it yourself, that’s cool too. But the culture is crucial to me,” she said.

Kwanzaa runs through Dec. 

many people believe the holiday is strictly for African-Americans, but it's values should appeal to a broad range of people.

 “Primarily it was focused on African Americans,” Imani said. 

“Primarily it was focused on African Americans,” Imani said. “Please, so many of us have African in us.”It’s a holiday surrounded by culture and tradition.

At least, that’s what Nia Imani, who celebrates Kwanzaa, says about Kwanzaa.

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