the season of kwanzaa has come again, the celebration & season of joyous harvesting & sharing of good in the world. founded in 1966 by dr maulana karenga, professor of black studies at california state university-long beach, this year marks the 44th anniversary of the recovery & reconstruction which has found a valuable & enduring place in the hearts, homes & daily lives of over 30 million people throughout the african disapora. the seven day celebration is dec 26-jan 1.
the nguzo saba is a vital source of practices & principles to bring, increase & sustain good in the world. they represent values & vital teachings of our ancestors about how we are to live decent lives, rightfully relate to each other & the world & teach our children by word & deed what it means to be an african man & woman in this world. each of the seven days we practice a different principle & learn to incorporate them into our daily lives .
day 1: umoja (unity) speaks to the ancient african ethical understanding: we come into being & flourish in relationship & that being of & with each other, logically & morally leads us to being for each other in real & mutually rewarding ways. umoja cultivates in us a sense of oneness with each other & a responsibility to each other, our people, hue-manity & the world. umoja calls on us to stand in solidarity with the suffering, oppressed & struggling peoples of the world in their rightful resistance to oppression & their just quest for the good life we all deserve & want. umoja makes us conscience of our obligation to care for the environment as sacred space & preserve & promote its flourishing, health & wholeness.
day 2: kujichajulia (self-determination) obligates us to respect our own cultural way of being hue-man in the world & to avoid dignity-denying & self-deforming imitations of others. kujichajulia urges us to define ourselves by the life & dignity affirming ways we walk & work in the world & to name ourselves in deep-rooted respect for our identity as bearers of dignity & divinity. kujichajulia calls on us to create for ourselves in the good-producing & world-preserving ways of our ancestors & to speak for ourselves in ways revealing our rootedness in our own culture & our commitment to the goodness & uniqueness of being african in the world.
day 3: ujima (collective work & responsibility) encourages us to commit ourselves to work & struggle to build the caring family, moral community, just society & good world we all deserve & want to live in. ujima teaches us to constantly search for & sustain common ground in the best of our moral values & to engage in cooperative projects for the common good. ujima demands we increase our efforts to confront & solve the persistent & pervasive hue-man problems of disease, homelessness, hunger, needless deaths, poverty & war which disfigures the face & future of hue-manity.
day 4: ujamaa (cooperative economics) is a principle of shared work & shared wealth of the world. ujamaa calls for & cultivates economic practices which demonstrate due respect for the dignity & life-affirming necessity of work, the right to a life of dignity & decency & a right to an equitable share of the good & goods of the world. moreover, as a project of cooperative creation & sharing of good, ujamaa seeks care & support of the vulnerable & a rightful relationship with the environment protecting it from the evils of depletion, plunder & pollution.
day 5: nia (purpose) speaks to us of our collective vocation to do good in & for the world & to restore our people to their traditional greatness defined by this ongoing creation & pursuit of the good. in this practice we follow the path of service like the heroes & sheroes before us who sacrificed their lives so we could live fuller, freer & more meaningful ones. the lessons of rev dr martin luther king jr's teachings on service as the substance of greatness, malcolm x's teaching on offering one's life as a testimony of social value & dr mary mcleod-bethune's teaching that we must live our lives so that at the end we are able to stand tall on the platform of service.
day 6: kuumba (creativity) calls on us to always do as much as we can in the way we can in order to leave our community & the world more beautiful & beneficial than we inherited it. kuumba teaches us to reaffirm the ancient african ethical commitment to constantly heal, repair & transform the world - called serudjta in ancient egyptian. kuumba requires us to revere life & to apply the active arm & healing hand to end the social injustice & persistent suffering around us & throughout the world. kuumba challenges us to become & be examples of the new world we struggle to bring into being.
day 7: imani (faith) is founded in the ancient ethical & spiritual teachings of our ancestors, forged in struggle & reaffirmed in the reality of every day life directed toward doing good in the world. amidst the cynicism, despair & evil in the world, we believe in the eventual triumph of good in the world. we dare to believe eventually thru acts of deep & enduring loving kindness, hard work & long struggle africa will come into her own again; the people of darfur, haiti, the congo & the survivors of katrina & all other oppressed & suffering people will be liberated, recover & rebuild their lives & forge a future of expansive freedom, justice & forward movement.
heri za kwanzaa - happy kwanzaa!
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.