KWANZAA: A Call to Community

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In light of the past six months, conversations about “the Black community”, and the coming year, I thought it was appropriate to sit with the concept of Kwanzaa. What I find interesting in the previous months is that there have been conversations about violence within the Black community, it has been insinuated that Black people or people of color (Hispanic included) do not pay attention to the violence perpetrated by their own; there is a lack of family, faith, community, love, and concern. Nothing can be further from the truth. Regularly there are conversations within the community about violence within, but the conversation pertaining to violence being perpetrated ON the community cannot disappear as a game of smoke and mirrors to avoid holding people accountable for their behavior.

With that said, this is the season of Kwanzaa a holiday not encumbered by religiosity, but based

Kofi Khemet, Blakfacts Educational Resources

Kofi Khemet, Blakfacts Educational Resources

on reaffirming values we hold important for our survival and progress as a people, a community. As I learned from Kofi Khemet, as a child, Kwanzaa is based on African celebrations of The First Fruits. One example of this type of festival is the KwaZulu celebration of The First Fruits, which is called Umkhosi Ukweshwama. It is not a wholesale recreation of any of these festivals, but rather an adaptation for Africans in the diaspora.

Kwanzaa is celebrated all over the world, including Africa,with a focus on the Nguzo Saba (7 Principles). The focus of the celebration of Kwanzaa is based on the 7 principles being promoted and practiced by young and old. These principles are the focus of each day (December 26-January 1):

  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, and nation.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa, UMOJA, a focus on unity. Unity within the family, Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 9.49.14 AMcommunity, and nation. How apropos for unity to be the first day. Without unity the others cannot stand, there is no foundation, and nothing else can grow. In light of the past few months, the need for unity has grown. Unity in vision, focus, message, and actions. Unity for a family vision, focus, message, and action. It starts with family?

How do you do that within the family? You can create a family vision statement – HERE. It’s an opportunity to have everyone understand and hold to a statement that encompasses the beliefs, values, and vision for everyone in words. Start with your family, share it, and others may follow. That is the start of building unity in other ways with your community.

Feel free to write your family vision statement and share it in the comments! We wrote one some time ago, when I find it I’ll share it – or we’ll write a new one and I’ll share that too.

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