By Dr. Maulana Karanga
I graduated from California State University Long Beach where the founder and creator of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karanga, taught African American studies. At that time, I didn’t have great knowledge of the significance of the holiday but I saw its impact. As people pledged Black Greek letter organizations, many of the line member adopted the name of a particular principle (and the very least, an African name) as their identification. It was an ignorantly powerful time of expression.
According to Dr. Karanga, “The core message and expansive meaning of Kwanzaa is rooted in its role as a rightful and joyous celebration of family, community and culture. Indeed, it is a celebration of a people in the rich and complex course of their daily lives and in the midst of their awesome and transformative movement thru human history. It is a holiday that grew out of the ancient origins of first-fruit harvest festivals which celebrate the abundant good of life and all living things and the good of earth itself and all in it. It rises also out of our modern struggle for an inclusive freedom, a substantive justice, a dignity-affirming equality, and a life-enhancing power of our people over our destiny and daily lives. And it bears the mark and message of both models and movements.”
Kwanzaa has 7 principles associated with it. Each day until January 1, 2010, I will share a little about each principle and its true meaning. Hopefully you’ll be able to weave a portion of their tenets into your life.
Umoja (Unity) To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
“Surely, in a world ravaged and ruined by war, defined by division, oppression and varied forms of greed, hatred and hostility, the principle of Umoja (Unity) invites an alternative sense of solidarity, a peaceful togethernes as families, communities and fellow human beings.
“It teaches us the oneness of our people, everywhere, the common ground of our humanity with others and our shared status as possessors of dignity and divinity. But it also encourages us to feel at one with and in the world, to be constantly concerned about its health and wholeness, especially as we face the possibility of climate change and other disasters around the world.”- Dr. Maulana Karanga