Not My Tribe?
I spotted this piece while perusing Blackelectorate.com. The article, entitled: "Real African-American Culture Is Superior to Psuedo-African Culture" was too much for me to pass up on. As is the usual for critics of Kwanzaa Mr. Mudede incorrectly describes kwanzaa:
No, the reason I don't celebrate or recognize Kwanzaa is because the language and practices of that occasion are drawn from an African tribe that is not mine.
really? Last I checked Kwanzaa was not based on any specific "tribal" practices but rather a distilliation of common themes thruout Africa. So what specifically is Mr. Mudede's problem?
I'm Manica, which is a tribe settled in the eastern, mountainous region of Zimbabwe. I recognize my tribe first, and then to a much, much lesser extent my country, whose borders were invented by the British. As for Kwanzaa, I don't know the tribe that does and says such things as "Umoja" and "Ujima"; and if I did know them I still wouldn't celebrate their holiday because it is not a Manica holiday. I don't celebrate Zulu holidays, nor do I celebrate the holidays of the Masai people, and so why should I celebrate the holiday of the tribe that says things like "Umoja" and "Ujima"?
I want to comment on this statement because it reveals much of what is wrong with much of the African intelligencia on both sides of the Atlantic. Notice that as "intelligent" as the writer is he still decides that he is more about his "tribe" than his nation. In fact he later goes as far as to state that such tribalism is at the "soul" of the Black African. Furthermore; unless he is speaking in a general sense, Why is it that he prefers to celebrate English, French or who knows what other races holidays but not one of the 'tribe next door." It seems that It's not so m uch Kwanzaa that Mr. Mudede has a problem with, it is with black people in general. But let me continue.
Mr. Mudede then extols the virtues of African-American "non-tribalness"
While African Americans enjoy their invented tribal holiday, real Africans look to America as an escape from tribalism. Indeed, the best possible gifts that black Americans could give black Africa are their tribal-less music, customs, books, hairstyles, and dances. A holiday that celebrated the traditions and practices of a tribal-less black America would probably be more useful to black Africans as a whole than one that got at all involved in the messy and usually bloody business of tribalism.
Let's all be pretty honest here and state that much of African-American culture is either grafted european customs or latent African customs. But look at his last sentance. Kwanzaa is a tribaless "holiday." It is Mudede that is injecting "tribalism" into the holiday by tripping over the use of Swahili. Furthermore, nowhere does he even discuss the meanings of the Swahhili words and thier role in Kwanzaa. No, all he does is moan about how Swahilli is spoken by some tribe somewhere and since it isn't his, he isn't interested. SHeeeeeet if that's his only problem then why not translate the Swahili words into Manica and get on with it.
Mr. Mudede then offers up something that is of real value:
Similarly, the fact that black Americans are not attached to a tribe (or tribes) means that they have created a unified African-American culture, one that offers Africans a better example for unification than anything you would find in Africa itself.
This is very true and is the great untapped gift of the Diaspora. It proves that we can be a whole unit even with our regional differences. What is lacking is what Fanon spoke about, the creation of a National Consciousness. This can be achieved in a single generation if the leadership was up to it and "intellectuals" such as Charles Mudede wasn't to busy running away from his neighbors.