Once again we have reached the point in the year when we celebrate Kwanzaa. Each of the seven social and spiritual principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa will be held in ... Once again we have reached the point in the year when we celebrate Kwanzaa. Each of the seven social and spiritual principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa will be held in veneration and we will see many African-Americans setting aside certain times in their homes to stress unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
Since 1966, when the first celebration of Kwanzaa was held by Maulana Karenga, Black people in this country have steadily increased the focus of not only the United States, but have also caused other countries to focus on it as well—economically speaking, of course.
Unity. Now there is a word we hear in our communities all of the time. Unfortunately, it is just a word, and while a lot of brothers and sisters are down with the word, they are not down with the practice of the word; they are not willing to do what it takes to have unity. Beginning Dec. 26, we heard the Kwanzaa call for "unity." Will this be the year that we finally achieve the unity we celebrate?
Self-determination. What a concept! Our forefathers and mothers, despite their meager resources and violent constraints, practiced this principle. That’s how they built their own towns, started and supported their own businesses, paid for their children’s education and built their own economy. And then came "dis-integration." I don’t know about you, but where I live some of us still allow our fate to be determined by other folks.
Collective work and responsibility. What a principle that is! Said another way, "Working together to take care of our responsibilities," makes it even plainer for me. There are many things we can do together to make our individual lives better and we should certainly be doing more of those things. Why aren’t we? Many of the problems we face on a daily basis are the result of our not working together—collectively—to take care of our own responsibilities. If we would simply apply this principle of the Nguzo Saba, we would be well ahead of the game.
Cooperative economics. That’s what this column has been about for nearly 10 years now. Yes, I have written thousands of words on the subject, but even more importantly, I have also practiced what I have been preaching. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t spend a dollar at a Black-owned business, advocate for a Black businesses, promote a Black business, help a Black business, encourage Black on Black spending, and actually live the fourth principle of Kwanzaa. Isn’t it amazing that with all of our economic and intellectual resources we celebrate Ujamaa much more than we practice it?
Purpose. Have you ever wondered what your purpose is on this earth? Have you wondered also about our purpose as a people, brought or maybe even sent to this foreign land from a land that has everything a person could ever need, enslaved and subjected to the worst treatment of a people in the history of the world, and surviving to become the most educated and affluent Black people in the world? Why did it happen? What are we supposed to do with what we learned? How are we to channel the tremendous strength of a people who would not be denied, who could not be wiped out, who multiplied, as the children of Israel multiplied, in spite of such horrific treatment? What is our purpose? Is it to celebrate Nia, or is it to find our purpose and actualize it?
Creativity. We celebrate the genius of our people by doing what Brother Amos Wilson referred to in his book, "Afrikan-Centered Consciousness Versus the New World Order." He said we spend a lot of time bragging about the pyramids our ancestors built, but we refuse to build some pyramids of our own to honor the work of our forebears. Our creativity in 2003 should be couched in making this place a little better for our having been here. We must cr