Thursday, December 27, 2012


Around Advent and Christmas time we hear about different "holidays" that are celebrated.  Hannukah is one of them which deals with the festival of lights, or when the temple's lamp gave light for 8 days despite its short supply of oil.  The other one that is spoken about and taught in schools is Kwanzaa.

What is Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa is a holiday created by Ronald McKinley Everett, also known as "Maulana Karenga."  He is a philosopher and professor at California State University.  He formulated the "Kwanzaa" holiday as a response to the holidays already celebrated and how he saw them as an attempt to take away African identity since Africans celebrate them as well.  He considered Jesus to be psychotic and that Christianity was a "white religion" that was imposed on Africans.

Kwanzaa, which means "first fruits of the harvest" was started by Karenga in 1966.  It was meant to be a holiday for African Americans to celebrate either alongside Christmas or as a replacement of it.  The theme stems from the radical Black nationalist rhetoric of the time.  Its sole purpose was to animate the African American community to rediscover their African roots and foster respect for one another while at the same time creating animosity towards whites.   

Ironically, Karenga was arrested and sentenced in 1971 for felony assault, sexual assault and false imprisonment.  Karenga abused, raped and held captive women.  He used water boarding torturing techniques on them.  Karenga admitted to the crimes claiming that the women were trying to kill him.  In 1975, he was granted parole and continued studying feminism and African studies.   

African culture is very different from American culture.  It is a collectivistic culture which stresses community life and adherence to social customs, beliefs and African philosophy.  Africa has many cultures within its borders, but the idea of community over self is found pretty much in each of them.  This is a sharp contrast to American culture which is more individualistic.

Kwanzaz emphasizes the "Nguzu Saba" or the Seven principle of African Culture.

  1. Umoja - means unity and stresses African Americans to be united not only with each other, but with their heritage
  2. Kujichagulia - is self determination. It calls for African Americans to discover the self and what they can contribute to themselves and others.
  3. Ujima - is community work and responsibility. It stresses the need for working together and being responsible individuals while avoiding being selfish.
  4. Ujamaa - is cooperating with Black business enterprises.  It calls for the support of African American businesses and promotion of them as a community.
  5. Nia - is self purpose.  It calls for a discovery of one's potential and how it can contribute to a community while holding on to traditions.
  6. Kuumba - is inspiration or creativity.  It calls for the use of innovative ideas in order to keep African heritage and community alive and relevant as times change.
  7. Imani - is Faith.  It calls all to have Faith in God, each other and oneself and realize the importance of how faith can help in times of trouble.

Each of these themes are recollected upon by lighting a candle on the Kinara, which is a candle holder that holds 7 candles.  The middle candle is black, and the others are red and green.  A common cup is used to symbolize unity and the offering of libations.  Vegetation such as corn and other crops are used to decorate the Kwanzaa celebration.  They symbolize the gifts of the Earth and the work done to obtain them.  African music may also be incorporated into the celebration.

My thoughts on Kwanzaa:

Kwanzaa is obviously a repackaged Afro-centric version of Christmas and Hannukah.  It was started as an attempt to get African Americans to replace Christmas due to its "alien" source of introduction to the African people by Europeans.  The sole purpose of it was to create a sort of social warfare between African Americans and those of European descent.  

Christianity is portrayed as a "white" religion and Jesus was even insulted by being labeled "psychotic." This is far from the truth. Christianity is a religion for all, not a particular race or ethnicity. In the genealogies mentioned in the Gospel, women; some who were not even Jewish, are mention indicating that all are part of Christ's family: Jews, Gentiles and Women. Jesus came for all peoples in every place and every time. As
Galatians 3:28 beautifully states:

 "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

We are all ONE in Christ Jesus.  There is no White, Black, Latino, Asian, Indian form of Christianity.  We are all ONE.  In light of this, there is no need to create these gimmick holidays in order to stir divisions among peoples of different racial backgrounds.

The celebration of Kwanzaa is beautiful if reflective on faith and one's culture, but not needed by Christians.  Our race, our communities, our individuality are upgraded in Christ Jesus who was born of a Virgin, died on a Cross for us all and rose from the dead showing we need to trust no one else but He who is above life and death.

Jesus was not psychotic.  What psychotic individual would preach love and heal the sick?  What psychotic individual would stress unity, peace, and agape love?

I am bothered by how Kwanzaa is pushed upon children in schools.  Christmas is the sole religious holiday recognized by the United States federal government.  Yet Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are overly emphasized as the "holidays" of the season.  Meanwhile, Christmas is watered down to a mere tree or snowman - Santa Claus is even left out in today's schools.   

Christians must fight back and demand that Christmas be respected and truly observed in schools and the public square despite its religious tones.  It is only fair.  "Christ" is already in the word "Christmas" so what is the problem with going more into detail on this holiday which is officially a federal holiday?

There is nothing wrong with teaching kids of all faiths or no faith what Christmas is and why it is important to over 3 billion people on Earth.  No one is asking them to be baptized or accept Jesus.  


 Karenga, Maulana (1967). "Religion". In Clyde Halisi, James Mtume. The quotable Karenga. Los Angeles: University of Sankore Press. pp. 25. 23769.8.

1 comment:

  1. Hannukah at least comes from an established religion, with Biblical background.


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