Kwanzaa is one of the most misconceived, misunderstood and underappreciated holidays and lifestyles in America. It is not only an ambiguity to non-black conservatives, hyper-conservatives, neoconservatives and progressives, but also to black people and Africans across the diaspora and across various political ideological segments.
There are arguments from continental Africans stating that “Kwanzaa is not indigenous to Africa” and there are conservatives that state that “Kwanzaa is a racist holiday.” In addition, there are folks that say that “Kwanzaa is a socialist holiday.” In addition, there are others that have skepticism towards Kwanzaa because of the controversies around the celebration’s brilliant founder, Dr. Maulana Karenga.
The purpose of this article is to show the brilliance of this holiday and its cultural and symbolic ramifications and how it would be beneficial for the appurtenance and socioeconomic welfare of black America.
The celebration of Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by Karenga. The word kwanzaa means “first fruits” in Swahili. Kwanzaa is a communitarian and humanitarian holiday geared towards reinforcing family, community and culture. It spans 7 days, from 26 December to 1 January, not to be confused with Christmas or Hanukkah.
The seven days of Kwanzaa are dedicated to the seven principles of Kwanzaa, and are metaphorically and symbolically displayed with seven candles called the Nguzo Saba (which is Swahili for “seven principles”).
The candles are in red, black and green, which are the colors of the flag of African liberation created by the Jamaican Pan-African leader, Marcus Garvey.
The seven principles of Kwanzaa in Swahili and are:
“1) Umoja (Unity) – to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race,
2) Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) – to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves,
3) Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) – to build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together,
4) Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) – to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together,
5) Nia (Purpose) – to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness,
6) 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,
7) Imani (Faith) – to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.”
The principles of Kwanzaa are based on family, togetherness and unification, but if one has an understanding of these concepts, they do not mean collectivization, communism or socialism, which are totally different concepts. In actuality, in order for the principles of Kwanzaa to be effective for the advancement of the black community, individual accountability, responsibility and moral rectification would have to occur.
The paralysis of black advancement is caused by the interference of big government via welfare statism and the manipulation of the black masses to rely on government to solve their problems, instead of black people being self-reliant based on the principles of Kwanzaa.
The first principle of Kwanzaa is Umoja, which means “unity”, but in order for black people to be unified there needs to be incentives for black people to have cohesion and camaraderie with one another. This would have to be through the skills, education and morality of each individual black person through various specializations in the marketplace which would organically incentivize unity.
In addition, throughout history, families, bands, tribes, communities and nations unified because of a common enemy. In order for unity to occur, black people need to individually educate themselves and morally rectify themselves to rely on themselves and understand that government has been hindering the unity and growth of black people through the bureaucratic monopolization of welfare, force, healthcare, etc. These governmental programs hinder innovation, job opportunities and other means of ascension for the black race.
Concomitantly, the principle of Kujichagulia means “self-determination” and is geared towards black people defining themselves. This cultural determination is based on moral rectification, incentives and cultural pride in the accomplishments found in black history. Other ethnicities have used self-determination to excel and prosper in America and globally, and they are the Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews, the Gujarati Indians, the Chinese, the Japanese and various other ethnicities.
The principle of Ujima means “collective work and responsibility”. In order for the black community to prosper in the Untied States, accountability, diligence and persistence would have to be contributed individually by black people. Hence, through the incentives of different black individuals to come together because of their different specializations of labor, then success can occur from a process called interdependency.
The continued stereotypical proclivity of black people being dependent, jealous, covetous, mischievous or treacherous of the success of other black people without contributing towards the success of one’s family or community would only be detrimental towards the advancement of black people. These cancerous behaviors only lead to homicidal antagonisms and victimization in the black community which adulterates and contaminates the moral fabric and safety of the community. This, in turn, leads to increased police activity which in a lot of cases cause police brutality and disproportionate incarceration of black people compared to others.
The principle of cooperative economics is practiced successfully by Jews, East Indians, Chinese, the Japanese and various other ethnicities. This is because they pride themselves in being skillful, intelligent and dexterous, enabling them to keep their financial resources in their communities through various specializations like law, construction, real estate brokerage, culinary arts or cooking, banking, etc.
The principle of Nia, which translates to “purpose”, is defined as a common moral compass for a group of people. In order for common and voluntarily-agreed perspectives of family, culture and togetherness to occur among black people or any group of people, is through the competition of ideas in the free market of perspectives and by successful black people of an honorable and profound axiological system. This is to show that the principles of Kwanzaa are more valuable than the commonly-accepted ideals of entitlement, governmental dependency, death, destruction, etc.
Next, the principle of Kuumba means “creativity”, and is based on black people utilizing their intelligence to innovate and create opportunities that will generate efficiency, growth and advancement for black people and the rest of the marketplace.
Lastly, the principle of Imani, or “faith”, means belief in one’s self, community, or possibly in a religious or spiritual system that incentivizes and reinforces growth and advancement for black people. Throughout history, there has always been a common religion or ideology that a nation, tribe or country utilizes to keep a people in solidarity with one another in order to obtain a certain objective.
In closing, the principles of Kwanzaa, if effectively utilized, are in the best interest of black people to advance and succeed in the United States and globally. It plays an interconnected role in vitalizing the global economy, since African-Americans and black people are all over the world now due to globalization.
The principles of Kwanzaa, if practiced and implemented, will make black people more morally responsible, accountable and successful. The true power and advancement of black people will be through the autonomy of the black family and community and not in the hands of government, which appropriates the financial resources of its citizens to supposedly help black people when all it does is increase dependency, entitlement and the victimization complexes of black people.
The principles of Kwanzaa are ideals of individual and holistic self-improvement for black people in America and globally.
This article represents the views of the author exclusively, and not those of Being Libertarian LLC.
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