Baba Kwasi –  Dec.8.2000, edited Dec.06,2017

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It’s been 50 years since KWANZAA was introduced by Dr.
Maulana Karenga to Africans in America as a recreated holiday and celebration based on African "first fruits" or harvest celebrations.  According to Dr. Karenga, "Kwanzaa was created out of the philosophy of Kawaida, which is a cultural nationalist philosophy that argues that the key challenge and crisis in Black people's life is the crisis and challenge of culture, and that what Africans must do to discover and bring forth the best of their culture, both ancient and current, and use it as a foundation to bring into being models of human excellence and possibilities to enrich and expand our lives."

The danger to the survival Kwanzaa is not found in the celebration of an African centered holiday, it’s found in the minds of too many people of African decent that are not conscience of the importance of cultural cohesion as a foundation of their existence.  But what is Culture?  Let me relate culture to the essence of the Nguzo Saba (which is Swahili, meaning The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa).


Culture is the way you look at yourself and others like you that forms and influences your individual and collective thoughts and actions, which determine your collective survival and or destruction.


UMOJA – Unity

To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, world and race.


Culture is the glue (unity) that holds a people together based on shared experiences, attributes, customs, heritage or ways of thought.  The concept of community must be extended to a cultural community not limited to a given space, but expanded to a global perspective.


KUJICHAGULIA - Self Determination

To define ourselves, our names, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves and do for ourselves.

Culture is the quality in a person or society that arises from an interest in and acquaintance with what is generally regarded as excellence in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuit, etc.  Good Character is an essential component of self determination.


UJIMAA - Collective Work and Responsibility (respond to your ability)

To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.


Culture is a particular form or progressive stage of civilization: Culture is both taught and inherited.  Recognizing the great accomplishments of African Culture and society both past and present.  Once again, community is no longer limited to space in a world where African presents is global.  We must assess and hold accountable collective work and responsibilities of ourselves, our families, business, religious and organizational communities.


UJAMAA – Cooperative Economics

To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.


Culture is Social. It is the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another with the purpose of survival and progress.  Understanding the basic definition of economics as the ability to identify, process, manage and maintain natural resources, material and intellectual properties. 


NIA – Purpose

To make our individual and collective efforts the building and development of our communities (both local and global) and recognize our constant positive influence to the world in order to restore and maintain our people’s traditional greatness.


Everyone was born with a purpose.  Without purpose, there is not character.


KUUMBA – Creativity

To do always the best we can in all that we do, by any means necessary, in order to leave our communities more beautiful and beneficial then we inherited it.


Culture is the Development or improvement of the mind and education or training (Cultured): enlightened, refined, artificially imposed or nurtured or grown.  Culture brings lessons learned from the past.  Lessons on innovation, genius, faith and the courage to create a way even when we cannot see a way.


IMANI – Faith

To believe with all our heart in ourselves, our people, our parents, our teachers, our elders, our leaders, our God and the righteousness and victory of our struggles inside and around us.


Some may argue that religion (which ever one you choose) is the foundation of human existence.  However, ignorance of the historical, political, economic and cultural genocidal undertones of many world religions along with the fear of historical study pertaining to the events and circumstances that formed or transformed these religions has left many people, (in particular, people of African decent) dependent on anything or anyone other than them selves to manifest destiny.  The Culture of Faith is "Knowing" something verses "believing".  Fear is the enemy of Faith.


The fear of living, the fear of death, the fear of the white man, and belief in the ideology of inferiority imposed over generations by others hold the African in psychological and sociological bondage and carries the seeds of perpetual submission and self-destruction.  The universal Principles of Kwanzaa are practiced to some degree by every race on the face of the earth.  The time has come for the African-American to recognize his and her place in the world.


I ask again, will Kwanzaa survive the 21st. Century?  The answer is found in the commitment of African people (at home and abroad) to know and live up to the greatness of their ancestors, exude excellence in all that we do and claim the positive impact and influence we have on the world.  As a man thinks so is he (or she).  Don’t be Scared…Claim your fame, the rest of the world has already claimed much of our fame and accomplishments..

Baba Kwasi – Dec.8.2000, edited Dec.06,2017

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