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6 years ago  ::  Jun 23, 2008 - 1:20PM #1
Truth27
Posts: 523
This is the name of a yearly African American-derived seven day festival commemorating seven general life principles that are, in essence, advocated for by all/most religions, and can thus be incorporated the daily life of practitioners of virtually any religion.  I am mentioning it here in the African religion section because its innovator, Mulana Karenga, established the holiday by investigating and borrowing from several traditional African harvest festivals (which, of course, are outgrowths of traditional African religions).  He then weaved in principles and certain symbols that had proven particularly poignant to the African American experience (but which ultimately are relevant to all cultures). 

Karenga was operating within the perspective of 'Afrocentrism' or 'African centeredness', an outgrown of the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s.  This period, although it might have seemed to be predominantly a time of rage and backlash on the part of blacks towards whites, was at core a period of African American catharsis and it led the way to the healing that comes with such release.  For, generations had passed during which, for their own safety, blacks had been forced to censor themselves publicly with regards to their abhorant treatment at the hands of whites.  When, thanks to the civil rights movement, it was finally safe to speak out, they did so with a force, vigor, and passion that came across as pure anger and aggression......if not, in the words of ML King, nihilism.

IMHO, the extent to which Kwanzaa survives today is, at core, a testimant to the desire on the part of many African Americans to acknowledge and pay homage to the healing and inner peace that resulted from the Black Power movement, a period of radical change and transition in mindset and identity that furthered the ongoing quest for closure among African Americans.  However IMHO, this type of  'Afrocentrism', which had thrived during that time, has (for the most part) degenerated into petty squabbles between classically trained whites and black 'Afrocentric' academics over the racial makeup of the Egyptians.  IMHO, this is not in line with the original spirit of Afrocentrism, a movement which in many ways strove to help blacks come to love and accept their sub-Saharan African ancestry on its own terms.  To seek and find the beauty in Africa and Africans who had, in many respects, provided us with our genetic and cultural heritage.  In this sense, the most precious and useful outgrowth of Afrocentrism/Black Power can actually be called 'Aframorism' (ie love of Africa and Africans). 

Ashe.

To be continued......
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6 years ago  ::  Jun 23, 2008 - 1:21PM #2
Truth27
Posts: 523
Along these lines, there are many ways to derive the original meaning of the word  'Africa'.  Notably, the entymological derivision of the term established by Gerald Massey in 1881 suggests that it can be related to the Egyptian phrase 'Af-rui-ka' or 'birthplace'.  For, it is known that, regardless of how mixed Egyptians were with western Asians in terms of culture and bloodline, they were extremely reverent towards the Nile as their source of life.  Thus, because the source of the Nile is in the south (ie in sub-Saharan Africa), they related this region to their 'birthplace'/source of their lives and livelihoods.  Although I am not suggesting anything about the physical appearance of the Egyptians, I find this particular entymology poignant in that it turns out that sub-Sahran Africa is indeed the ultimate birthplace of the modern human race.  It is our site of common origin; the land of our shared blood.     

The term Kwanzaa is derived from the Kiswahili adjective 'kwanza' (meaning 'first') and the verb 'zaa' (meaning to bear or create fruit or offspring); hence the colloquial meaning of Kwanzaa is 'first fruit'.  Although one's first impulse in this regard may be to assume that this simply connotes celebration of the first products of the harvest, the word 'kwanza' or 'first' can also mean 'most important' or 'foremost in one's mind'.  In addition, the word 'zaa' or 'to bear fruit' can mean 'to create prosperity, abundance, value, and/or profundity'.  Thus the term 'Kwanzaa' can also be interpreted to mean 'cultivating the most important or major means of creating value in the world' (ie via following the principles).

Unfortunately, a narrow definition of Kwanzaa would suggest that the holiday can only be celebrated by Blacks (ie people of relatively recent sub-Saharan ancestry).  However, a broader, more 'Aframoric' perspective would suggest that sub-Saharan Africa and sub-Saharan Africans are in need of as much commemoration, love, and respect as the whole world can muster given their current state of affairs.  In fact, regardless of their state of affairs, it is our homeland.  This alone accords it the same kinds of accolades that any other continent enjoys.  Along these lines, I personally integrate other more mainstream traditions that have similar values as Kwanzaa into my understanding.   For instance, in my daily life, I try to integrate the seven Unitarian Universalist principles in place of and/or as a complement to my interpretation of the traditional explanations of the seven principles of Kwanzaa.  This bridges the gap between what WEB Dubois would have called my 'double consciousnesses'.  This integration is IMHO a step towards an improved, more holistic self concept.

Ashe.
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6 years ago  ::  Jun 23, 2008 - 1:34PM #3
Truth27
Posts: 523
Has anyone heard of Kwanzaa?  If so, what are your impressions of it?  To me, it has the potential to get us all back to a healthy respect for the agricultural and/or traditional lifestyles and cultures that most ALL of our ancestors have participated in over the past ~10,000 years.  It also serves to remind us of Africa and its crucial importance for the pre-history of humanity.

Ashe.
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