By Aiyana Ma’at
A few days ago Adisa Banjoko, West Coast Editor of NewsOne, wrote an article on NewsOne.com that pissed me off. I couldn’t believe this dude had the nerve to publish such an irresponsible article. Check the article and my response out and, as always, share your thoughts.
Kwanzaa is wack. The other day I said this on my Facebook page. Actually, what I said was: “Is it wrong of me to say that I love AFRICA, but I think Kwanzaa is wack? #ducksfromthebricks.”
Now, when I said it, I meant it but gave no thought to how it might affect people. I’m kind of bad like that. A ton of people (some Black and some not) got on and said they thought Kwanzaa was wack too. I never thought about it again really. Just a funny little thread.
Then someone got real upset. I felt bad about that, truly. But the reality is that Kwanzaa was created by an FBI informant named Dr. Maulana Karenga. Straight up! That’s an actual fact. Beyond that, stuff like corn that is used in a lot of the rituals is not even native to Africa. A friend of mine noted “it’s truly corny.”
Now hold on. I did participate in a few Kwanzaa events back when ’89 was the number. I always tried to do observe it. But once I did the history on its founder and some of the deeper elements of its hollow cultural base, it was hard to continue on. For those who do, I promise I’m not mad at you. Not that you would care. But you can’t get your kente cloth all in a bunch because I’m not feeling it.
Look, I love Africa and what it means to be Black. I love almost everything African (aside from the tribal fighting and the needless murder and rape of women across the continent). But Kwanzaa is not African. I never knew an African (from any part of the continent) who was like “Yo Adisa, bro you wanna slide thought to the Kwanzaa fest playa?” It has never happened! They don’t get down like that.
Kwanzaa is like a bad weave. People might kinda like it, but we all know it ain’t real. Now, I live on the West coast, in the Bay Area. The only people I see really on some Kwanzaa “ish” are the hardcore revolutionary types you might find at the Berkeley flea market selling incense and shea butter soap (which they might consider using on themselves).
I guess what I’m saying is, I was raised on the works of Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Dr. Ivan VanSertima and Runoko Rashidi. I studied a lot about ancient Kemet, The Moorish Empire, Benin, Timbuktu etc. I love reading about African culture and history any time I can. That’s why I don’t need Kwanzaa. I have knowledge of self and kind.
It appears as though the only other people who might celebrate it are East coast college types who still work on a University campus. But I’m not even sure that’s accurate.
Dr. Maulana Karenga was an informant who hated on Geronimo Pratt and caused a lot of damage to the African American community. How do we know he didn’t “found” Kwanzaa in 1966 as a social experiment on Black people for the FBI? How could such a knowledgeable man just forget that corn is not from his homeland?
Beyond that, is it possible to love Africa and not celebrate Kwanzaa? I know Jews that do not celebrate Chanukah. I know Muslims that don’t celebrate every Ramadan or Eid (some for health reasons, others because they came from places so poor, fasting was a daily occasion). I know Christians that do not celebrate Christmas (because they read Jeremiah 10: 1-25 in the Holy Bible). They still consider themselves lovers of their individual paths though. Can I love my Blackness and still think Kwanzaa is rich in wackness? Is there anything else we can do outside of Kwanzaa to stay more authentically connected to the Motherland? What do you think?
So, when I finished reading I was like Ayize! Can you believe this bullshizzle!!?! I started typing my response and said Eff it. I’m gonna do this on my website because I want to know what ya’ll think. Here’s my thoughts:
Kwanzaa was never said to be AFRICAN. It’s AFRICAN AMERICAN. C’mon now. My question is How is it benefitting you to hate on Kwanzaa a CULTURAL not RELIGIOUS holiday? Never once did you reference the principles that Kwanzaa is based on. Yours is such a superficial critique. I guess UNITY, SELF-DETERMINATION, COLLECTIVE WORK & RESPONSIBILITY, COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS, CREATIVITY, PURPOSE, AND FAITH are WACK huh?
Naw, YOU are WACK for undermining a cultural holiday that is uplifting, positive, and powerful for people of African descent to examine where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re going. “We all know it ain’t real.” Wowww. I have to wonder who you work for…..FBI maybe???
Now, don’t get me wrong–I know a lot of black folks who celebrate Kwanzaa (and more importantly practice the principles throughout the year) but I also know a whole lot of black folks who don’t officially celebrate Kwanzaa. HOWEVER, THEY GET IT. They understand the value in the principles, consider themselves to be conscious of the VALUES and do their best to live them out in their day to day lives. And, they definitely would never have the audacity to knock the holiday and the morally and culturally affirming light it can shine in our lives–if you allow it.
Please people: DON’T BE DELUDED BY WEAPONS OF MASS DISTRACTION.