Post-Holiday Thought: Is Kwanzaa outdated??

Since the holiday season has come and past, I pose a question that I’ve seen in other social networks: Is Kwanzaa outdated? I ask because most African-American people I know do not celebrate it. If one was to go onto facebook to gauge interest you would see very few status updates that would mention Kwanzaa. I was one of the few people who mentioned it on facebook and twitter.

For those of you who do not know much about Kwanzaa, here is a cheat sheet: Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the honoring African-American heritage and culture, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year. The seven principles (Nguzo Saba) are reflected upon each day of Kwanzaa.

  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves stand up.
  • 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 heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Last week, I read several articles regarding the validity of Kwanzaa. Some said that the holiday is no longer valid because most African-Americans do not celebrate it. I grew up celebrating Kwanzaa. I remember how important to my family it was. Looking back, outside of my extended family I really did not know anyone else who did. Honestly, I keep those principles I learned when I was kid close to my heart. I also believe that some of the principles are outdated.

African-Americans these days would love to follow through with these principles on a daily basis. But the way things are nowadays it might be not as accurate as people might like it to be. I am well aware that the creator of this holiday did not take into account that lots of African-Americans have moved out of the inner city or that a lot of African-Americans did not feel a connection to Africa like we should.  Either way, I think most people have come up with their own principles when it comes to this stuff and it probably does not match with the seven principles.

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  • Did you know that the creator of Kwanzaa was a rapist and a criminal?

  • Yes I know . The most of the people who created this country did the same. Cointelpro says but can we really trust them?? I just saw your link I saw the words tea party. That's more telling than anything. Having said that I will keep looking on your site.

  • In reply to Evan Moore:

    Let's assume the creator of Kwanzaa is a rapist or criminal. Does that make the principles attached to it less important? Does that mean self-determination, work and responsibility is bunk?

    I don't understand what the purpose behind the comment is other than to belittle.

    I do not celebrate Kwanzaa. But, after reading your post, I wanted to note that self-determination should be something we strive for daily-- rather than remember it one week during the year (and I know your point was not that we should only think about these principles during Kwanzaa).

    My point is that because the principles are universal and timeless, that may be way Kwanzaa is unnecessary. But we need a way to communicate these principles-- or other ones which will uplift the community-- daily.

  • agree but I have yet to hear from the first guy. I looked at his link. By his premise I can make a strong case for cancelling X-mas and the constitution. hypothetically of course.

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    Is Kwanzaa outdated? I can't remember a time that it was 'en vogue' within the black community. The hard truth that many of us will have to come to grips with is that we, Black Americans, are not African.

    Most BA's cannot name five African presidents, nor have we any knowledge of African history. We know no African languages, customs, or foods. And truth be told, if many of us were given opportunity to make permanent residence in Africa, we wouldn't go.

    Therefore, a tradition which makes a patchwork of Africa by stringing together a few Swahili words, colorful Kente cloth from random parts of the continent, and singing African songs in languages that we don't understand seems quite synthetic. It would be as synthetic as an Irish-American wearing German boots, an Italian shirt, speaking a few Polish words, and claiming this represents Europe - the 'homeland'.

    If we must find a trans-Atlantic connection, it would be more authentic for us to learn about West Africa, which is the origin of most of our ancestors.

  • In reply to Dirt Dunnz:

    I agree. A friend to me told me its no different than arsenio hall playing semi in coming to america. Kwanzaa holds me no meaning to most african-americans.

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