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7 Days of Holiday Blogging: Ujima

Habari Gani, Villagers & Lurkers?!? What's the news?
Ujima, Habari Gani?

Excellent. You're getting it.

Well, lets get right to it shall we. Every year the Kwanzaa Grinches poke out their lips & fold their arms & pout against Kwanzaa. Then they take to the Innerwebs to bash a holiday they really know nothing about. Truth be told, most of you celebrating Christmas don't REALLY know what it's about. But because people prefer to move in groups, the larger group celebrates Christmas. All to the good. As you pout about what you consider to be Xmas Lite, we're busy celebrating everywhere & some of us celebrate everything. Usually this barrage of negativity doesn't phase me any. I don't really care what people choose to celebrate or if they choose to celebrate anything. I'm not trying to force anything down anyone's throats. It just began to irk me the ignant comments being made on mostly satirical blogs--though we all know we tell our truths thru humor--without context. I decided to take to these virtual streets & pull together some other folks who DO celebrate Kwanzaa so I could add more than my voice to the conversation. So, I'm gonna back up & let the 1st of the guest bloggers do her thing. I give you, Negarra Kudumu.

I am always amazed by the nature of criticism leveraged against certain concepts. In this case, I refer specifically to recent musings on Kwanzaa which only scratch the surface when it comes to a substantive analysis of the holiday's merits and faults. As someone who was raised celebrating this holiday and who only sparingly celebrates it as an adult, I am the first to acknowledge the challenge in widespread intellectual and practical adoption of the holiday. That however doesn't invalidate its cultural relevance, particularly given the historical backdrop upon which it was created, and the fact that the principles were and still remain relevant in a 21st century world. That someone would devote an entire blog post - myself included - suggests that minimally it matters enough to merit even jocular criticism.

Many form their basis for criticizing the holiday on their personal dislike for the founder, Dr. Maulana Karenga. Just as we have conveniently separated Christ from Christmas and labor for from Labor Day, we can also separate Dr. Maulana Karenga from Kwanzaa. He was the creator and remains an avid promoter of Kwanzaa, among other things, however Kwanzaa isn't him and he isn't Kwanzaa. At some point Dr. Karenga will make his transition, as we all eventually will, and Kwanzaa will remain. To limit this holiday to its founder misses the mark completely and ignores the historical context and cultural relevance of the concept. Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga who has been a long life activist and advocate for the preservation of African-American culture with a view towards connecting African-Americans to their historical origins on the African continent. Dr. Karenga was not the first to advocate such ideas. If you are familiar with the work of Marcus Garvey and various negritude intellectuals such as Frantz Fanon and Leopold Senghor among others, you will find very similar concepts and ideas.

What makes Kwanzaa unique is that it is one of the few sectoral holidays which sets out and advocates basic principles intended to serve as guidance for action in every day life. These principles, the Nguzo Saba, speak specifically about collective action which in a world oriented around the needs and wants of a choice few political and economic elite, rather than the masses of the people who actually make the world go round, was and still is - dare I say it - revolutionary.

In fact there is a specific principle that speaks to collective action and that is Ujima. Ujima stands for collective work and responsibility. To quote the official definition:

To build and maintain our community together and to make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together.

2011 in retrospect has been the year of collective work and responsibility and also Kujichagulia (self-determination). We have seen the rise of CELAC a new political and economic bloc uniting the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Since the the beginning of the year we have witnessed the various uprising cum revolutions in the Arab world not to mention the Occupy Wall Street network of protests which has completely and totally transformed the global conversation on political and economic inequity.

In the spirit Ujima and the Nguzo Saba I urge you to enter into discussions with your community about the relevance of Kwanzaa and other cultural practices you honor. Be critical and be balanced.

For more information and perspectives on Kwanzaa please visit:

The Official Kwanzaa Web Site
7 Whole Days of Holiday Blogging: Umoja
7 Days of Holiday Blogging: Kujichagulia

You can check Negarra's musings out on her site negarraakilikudumu.com

So, like my sister said, it's time to pay attention to everything going on around us. The powers that be don't give a mili-damn about you OR me. As you can see with what's going on around the world. Things are changing & faster than you can spell Cee. Enn. Enn. It's time for all of us to figure out who we are banding with & to what end. What are we working for & toward? How are we preparing ourselves for when these folks burn this empire to the ground? We are all in the same boat. Those with yachts think they're doing better than the rest but discovering they can't fuel it will remind them that a yacht & a canoe are virtually the same. The difference is, the group in the canoe can use man power to get to the next destination while the yacht is up the proverbial creek without the literal paddle.

Whether you celebrate Kwanzaa or not, the concept of collective work & responsibility is very real!! What does it mean to you?

Now lets lighten the mood a little. Enjoy.

Watch me move.

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