Friday, December 26, 2014

UMOJA - 1st Day of Kwanzaa

It's the first day of Kwanzaa. A holiday celebration founded by Dr. Mulana Kerenga in the 1960's, combing a variety of harvest celebration from the African continent, with the particular Week that follows Christmas celebrating that people do. Interestingly, focused around the Nguzo Sabba (7 Principles), which are curiously the basic elements of any organized/ civilized body of people. Structured in the form of any ritualized holiday observance, where each day is set to reflect on the principle and examples of the principle in action. Kwanzaa is clearly not a religious holiday, but one that is motivated by sociopolitical and economic foundations; neatly packaged within a language that is fundamentally a trade language.

The first day of Kwanzaa, December 26th, is UMOJA, which is Kiswahili for "Unity" which carries a much deeper meaning then the cliche of simply coming together in Kente cloth robes, but it is a time to come together and create or maintain council. Define your community and clan/ family structure. What is your organizational structure and purpose? Who plays what role in the function of your collective? What are the standards and ethics of the group? In the end what will you have hoped to have built or continued? This is the true meaning of Unity beyond the symbol: the lasting effects of the unity.

Of course, as with the irony of many progressive rituals, the ritual is lost in the quagmire of the politics behind the founder and the misinterpretation of the message behind the vision. The validity of the Nguzo Sabba is often lost on those who remember that Kerenga was the leader of a rival organization to the Black Panther Party, called US and was believed to be a funded operative of the Co-Intel-Pro of the FBI. All of this may or may not be true, but the bottom line is this: let us look at the principles of each day and consider them for their deeper meanings,beyond the symbols, and what are the true lessons.

"My enemy's enemy is my friend; so let us be friends..." - Sun Tzu

"Qualities should be found in the perfect prince that would someday unite all of the city-states in Italy." - Niccolo Machiavelli follows Christmas celebrating that people do. Interestingly, focused around the Nguzo Sabba (7 Principles), which are curiously the basic elements of any organized/ civilized body of people. Structured in the form of any ritualized holiday observance, where each day is set to reflect on the principle and examples of the principle in action. Kwanzaa is clearly not a religious holiday, but one that is motivated by sociopolitical and economic foundations; neatly packaged within a language that is fundamentally a trade language.

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