While most of the world pauses to celebrate Christmas, many people ignore the importance of Kwanzaa. Even African-Americans. “Most people have been manipulated to think Kwanzaa is a replacement for Christmas. Because of the rich religious relationship that Black people have with Christianity, most Black people would never choose Kwanzaa over Christmas. The biggest misconception is that Kwanzaa is an alternative when it’s not,” said Reaux Fareal in a recent forum in New Orleans, LA.
In 1966, Dr. Maulana Karenga, a California Historian and College Professor, introduced Kwanzaa as a week of daily obersanvances to enhance Black Family and Self Puropose. “Dr. Karenga recognized how much Christmas had been commercialized to boost the economy at the end of the year and it had gotten away from true focus of the holiday, which was family unity. Everything that Christ stood for,” said Reaux.
What is Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa highlights a different African tradition every day between Dec 26-Jan 1. The first day is Umoja, which means “Unity” in Swahili. The second day is Kujichagulia which means Self Determination. Ujima is the third day. It means Collective Work and Responsibility. Ujamaa is the fourth day. It is designed to reflect on how we invest in our businessess so that we profit from each other. The fifth day is Nia, meaning Purpose. We are to reflect on self purpose and our purpose to building the community. Kuumba, the sixth day, means Creativity. We are to use our creative talents and ideas to beautify our community and the people around us. The last day is Imani. It means Faith. To have Faith in our parents, leaders, and teachers to help secure victory for the struggle of our people.
“It should be important to all of us to celebrate our own History and our own culture but even though Kwanzaa was created by an African-American, it can actually be shared by anyone. It’s just a week of positive principles,” said Reaux Fareal. “It isn’t religious either. You can be of any Faith and honor the principles of Family and Unity. That’s what your Faith should be teaching you to do anyway.”
“Jews celebrate Hannukah. Our Mexican brothers and sisters celebrate Cinco De Mayo. Kwanzaa is an African Holiday that should be embraced by African-Americans and any others who honor principles of Peace. It is an essential part of Black Culture,” said Reaux. The Holiday has been notably supported by President Bush, President Johnson, President Clinton, and President Barack Obama. The US Postal Service even has stamps to support the Kwanzaa Observance.