Christ and Culture (Kwanzaa)
There is Hope
Looking back on the last days of December 2020, we see two celebrations that give us hope as we enter the New Year, Christmas and Kwanzaa (Christ and Culture). The year 2020 will long be remembered as the year of unprecedented global suffering. With the exception of World War II, the world has never experienced such worldwide pain and uncertainty. Although there are those who claimed that the 1918 flu pandemic was worse however, because this pandemic has other major problems which makes it more devastating than the Spanish flu of 1918.
They discovered at least two variants to Covid-19 and finally there were at least three other factors. The three main monsters I will call the Vicious V’s:
The global violence manifested itself in many ways.There were the usual nation against nation which carried the potential for wider conflict with the possibility of leading to another World War.
And then there was the violence of terrorism. There was street violence in the U.S.A in particular there was gun violence, police violence, racist, sexist or mysogynistic, xenophobic violence, religious violence, political violence, etc. also there was violence in our speech; hostility manifested itself in hurtful verbal communication.
Venality: the quality of being open to bribery or overly motivated by money.
I am expanding the use of venality to include incompetence and self-serving leadership. In America, Mr. Trump and his administration will go down in history as one of the most inept, corrupt, self-serving administrations. His attempts to diminish and or destroy America’s institutions ie: courts, police, media, the various governmental agencies was particularly reprehensible. Perhaps the worst of all was his attempt to corrupt or discredit the election system. To the very end he has tried to discredit all of the systems, which will exert influence for years to come.
The Virus COVID-19
COVID-19 as stated will surpass the horrors of all other pandemics. As of this writing 86.4 million coronavirus cases and 1.9 million deaths globally and in the USA 21,045,468 cases and 357,166 deaths. With the virus comes different forms of disasters ie; joblessness (at 19.6 million filed as of December 12); the emotional and mental breakdown and suicidal increase.
Looking back it is no wonder many lost hope and despair was pervasive. However, there were at least two celebrations which emphasized Hope- Christmas and Kwanzaa.
The Story of Christmas
The Scripture says “God so loved the world that he gave his begotten son.” John 3:16. This son was born in a manger, a stable and though we see pictures of golden straw and cleanliness everywhere but a stable is a stable. Perhaps God was sending a message to those who are destitute, even homeless, that though God had created the universe when his son was born there was no room for him. The message of Christmas is a message of hope, of love, of salvation.
Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of the department of Africana Studies at California State University. He created Kwanzaa, responding to the rebellion that took place in Watts. He wanted to find a project or some way to bring people, particularly people of African Ancestry together in respect, peace and prosperity.
I’ve known Dr. Karenga for many years. He is a brilliant, creative, committed brother. Other organizations he created was Us and the Kawaida project. He was a key supporter of our organizing the National Black United Front in 1980. In our organizing efforts there was some tension between the veterans of the movement and some of the new converts. I felt that if we were ever going to create a National Black United Front it had to become the dream of every credible Pan-Africanist leader. The leadership would have to come from the newer members of the movement with the veterans teaching and advising and sharing their experiences.
Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI had created and spread hostility among political activists at the time. He sowed seeds of discord among the leaders and instigated conflict among themselves and the police. Thus, the suspicion was deep and pervasive. new leadership didn’t bring those scars and distrust to the movement.
Dr. Karenga gave his blessing to our organizing efforts, when we explained to him and to the other veterans that we wanted them to be Advisors to our organizing for the National Black United Front.The message of Kwanzaa to repeat is a message primarily of the love, respect, unity and building community together:
Umoja (Unity): maintaining unity as a family, community, and race of people.
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): defining, naming, creating, and speaking for ourselves.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): building and maintaining our community—solving problems together.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics: building and maintaining retail stores and other businesses and to profit from these ventures.
Nia (Purpose): work collectively to build communities that will restore the greatness of African people.
Kuumba (Creativity): to find new, innovative ways to leave communities of African descent in more beautiful and beneficial ways than the community inherited.
Imani (Faith): the belief in God, family, heritage, leaders, and others that will leave to the victory of Africans around the world.
Heeding the message of these two celebrations let us manifest in our lives the words of Jesus, “Love God with all our hearts, soul mind and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves.” And if the religious reference bothers you then let the Golden rule suffice “Do unto others and you would have others do unto you.” Keeping the message of these two celebrations, Christ and Kwanzaa, ever before us, let us hold fast to hope, and join our hands and hearts together and work to build a better world.
To be continued...