Kwanzaa is a time of celebration, remembrance, reflection and recommitment. It requires these practices all through the vacation. However the final day of Kwanzaa is devoted to deep reflection, meditation on the which means and measure of being African and the way that is understood and asserted for good on this planet in important, uplifting and transformative methods. This resharing of ideas on this article on the observe of deep reflection throughout Kwanzaa reaffirms its essentiality, not solely to the observe of Kwanzaa, but additionally its indispensability to attaining and residing a great and significant life. I converse of a life during which we expect deeply and constantly about essential points on a private and social stage and act accordingly. And because the honored ancestors of historic Egypt taught, it means deep pondering (djaer) about what is nice for the folks and helpful to the unfolding and flourishing of the long run.
Throughout this Kwanzaa, as at all times and as our ancestors centuries earlier than us, we collect collectively once more to have fun and share the great we’ve gained and garnered; to recollect in reverence the sacred names, noble deeds and massive sacrifices of our ancestors; and to recommit ourselves to our highest values and most exalting visions, and to an ongoing observe that proves their value and brings into being the great they embody and guarantee. And we collect too to reaffirm our rootedness in our personal tradition, to strengthen the bonds between us as African folks and to meditate on the expansive which means and superior duty of being African on this planet.
As Kwanzaa attracts to an finish and the previous yr meets and merges with the brand new, we’re, as at all times, obligated and urged by historic customized and ongoing present considerations to take a seat down and critically interact in righteous reflection on being African on this planet. To talk of righteous reflection is, in an Ebonics sense of the phrase righteous, to speak of thought that’s actual, moral and wonderful. That’s to say, thought that’s free from the factitious, false and formulaic and comes from the center in addition to from the pinnacle. What’s geared toward right here is assumed which is knowledgeable by an moral sensitivity to the topic into account. And this holds true whether or not in our concern for one another or for the well being and wholeness of the world; for the lack of human life or the mutilation of historic reminiscence; and for the deprivation of fabric wants or the denial of dignity and rights due everybody.
This course of and observe of righteous reflection culminates on January 1, Siku ya Taamuli, the Day of Meditation. Right here we’re to focus much more so and assume deeply and constantly about our lives and the world, about essential points that confront us and the world and our duty to know and interact them. Certainly, we’re to measure ourselves within the mirror of one of the best of our historical past and tradition and ask ourselves the place we stand as a consultant and embodiment of one of the best of what it means to be African and human within the fullest sense.
This cultural measurement and mirroring is achieved via asking and answering three basic questions. Constructing on the insights of Frantz Fanon, these Kawaida rooted questions are : who am I; am I actually who I’m and am I all I must be? Now to ask who we’re is each a private and communal query which can’t be righteously separated. For we’re anchored and embedded in a particular neighborhood and tradition and replicate the strengths or weaknesses of that neighborhood and tradition even unintentionally.
To reply the query of “who am I?”, we should embrace an expansive conception of our identification, rejecting racist conceptions that problematize, indict and deform our sense of Blackness or Africanness or diminish or restrict its root understanding as an expression of excellence on each stage. This implies embracing a conception of African that defines our identification means past the given names and assigned numbers on our start certificates, licenses or social safety, insurance coverage or different identification playing cards. It means understanding the non-public within the context of the communal and the cultural, for inherent within the historical past and tradition of our neighborhood is the supply and reply of who we’re and should change into and be.
Nonetheless else we see ourselves, our conception of who we’re should embrace at the very least three foundational identities cast within the crucible of essential intervals of historical past and battle. These identities are: fathers and moms of humanity and human civilization; little kids of the Holocaust of enslavement; and authors and heirs of the Reaffirmation of the 60’s, i.e., Reaffirmation of our Africanness and social justice custom. And these depart us clear classes and legacies which pose social battle; ethical grounding; human dignity, sturdiness and adaptive vitality; and a profound dedication to excellence and achievement as indispensable to defining one of the best of what it means to be African and human on this planet.
Now, to ask “am I all I must be?” is to acknowledge the numerous methods our identification and the excellence it calls for are eroded, undermined and in any other case broken within the hearth and furnace of oppression. Certainly, it’s Fanon, once more, who reminds us that within the stomach of the beast of oppression, these much less capable of stand up to the acidic toll it takes on the human individual, typically go via 4 levels of psychological disintegration. Thus, they: doubt themselves; deny themselves, i.e., their identification; condemn themselves after which mutilate themselves each psychologically and bodily. Fanon notes that in such a context of extreme and savage oppression, they “put on the masks”, desperately searching for reduction from the racist actuality surrounding us. And he rightly argues there isn’t a reduction or treatment besides in battle on a private and collective stage to defend one’s humanity and free oneself from oppression and from the pathology it represents within the oppressor and reproduces within the oppressed.
It’s figuring out who we’re in essentially the most expansive sense and reaffirming it in thought and observe that we are able to reply the query and honor the moral crucial of being all we must be. Certainly, to be all we must be is to affix in battle to create a context of freedom, justice, well-being and peace on this planet which aids us in realizing the fullness of our humanity and flourishing as individuals and a folks. To ask and reply the query “am I all I must be?” then, speaks to the interrelatedness of our identification as each African and human and the superior duty this locations on us to restore and radically reorder the world.
It’s clear from the teachings of our ancestors and our lengthy expertise in historical past that how we conceive and conduct our private lives shapes and even determines the well-being of our households and other people, society and finally the world. Our duty, then, is in increasing concentric circles from household to the entire of humanity and the world. It’s on this understanding that the Odu Ifa teaches that “doing good worldwide is one of the best expression of character”. And the Husia instructs us that we’re morally obligated to hunt and converse reality in excessive and low locations; to demand and do justice all over the place; to guard and supply for the poor and weak in each place; to do and unfold goodness all through the land; and to always restore, renew and remake the world, making it extra stunning and helpful than we inherited it.
Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor and Chair of Africana Research, California State College-Lengthy Seaside; Govt Director, African American Cultural Heart (Us); Creator of Kwanzaa; and writer of Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Household, Group and Tradition, The Message and Which means of Kwanzaa: Bringing Good Into the World and Essays on Battle: Place and Evaluation, www.AfricanAmericanCulturalCenter-LA.org; www.OfficialKwanzaaWebsite.org; www.MaulanaKarenga.org.