Today is the first day of Kwanzaa the celebration, I won't say holiday given that holiday is really a reference to "holy" days as in religious observance. What is Kwanzaa? Well there are a lot of misinformation regearding Kwanzaa which has grown as it has become mainstreamed. Kwanzaa was strated by Dr. Ron Karenga previously of the US organization that had famous run-ins with the Black Panther Party care of the FBI's COINTELPRO. Kwanzaa came as an outgrowth of Dr. Karenga's belief in what is refered to as "Cultural Nationalism." This idea puts the reclamation of African culture at the forefront of struggle within' the African community in America and elsewhere. Indeed it follows in line with Amilcar Cabrals own ideology when he was involved in the struggle in Guinea Bissau. From this thought, Karenga wanted to find cultural practices that spanned Africa. One of the things he noted that there was a common practice of celebrations of harvest times. And thus we get the "first fruits of the harvest" portion of Kwanzaa. It would be mistaken for a person to go up to an African on the street and ask them if they celebrate Kwanzaa. No Such specific celbration existed. It would be more proper to ask if in the history of their culture if villages celebrated harvest times. Any African with knowledge of thier particular history would answer in the affirmative. Often this is the excuse that particular groups of blacks with axes to grind or philosophies and beliefs to protect, will use to denegrate this celebration. But to the intelligent and informed these individuals show just how uneducated they are.
One of the things that trips up many people is the fact that Karenga chose to use Ki-Swahili as the language of choice for the celebration. Karenga's reasons for this is that he noted that Kiswahili is the largest African language spoken on the continent (Arabic words notwhithstanding). It was therefore looked at as a non-tribal language. Thus the unifying nature of such a common African language was seen as a positive way to promote cultural unity.
Kwanzaa is centred around 7 principles, called the Nguzu Saba. The first of which is Umoja or unity. This is the unity of family, friends, nation, and people. It means that in purpose we should be united. We should recognize our common acheivements, our common calamities and common goals. It does not call for uniformity of thought and action. Such uniformity stifles creative thought and breeds intolerance. Though we frown upon uniformity we should beware that sometimes the freedom to be different leads others down destructive paths. They seek to be different just to be so and forget the common good.
Many scientist will tell us that there are more differences within racial groups than there is between racial groups. This may be true, but we know a black man or woman when we see one. so regeardless to how different we may be, whether those things are ethnic or geographic, we know us when we see us, those that seek to oppress us know us when they see and hear us, so let us know us and recognize us and unify with us so that all of us can live well.
Peace and Umoja