Sunday, December 30, 2007

Karenga Reiterates The Importance of Kwanzaa

Karenga Reiterates The Importance of Kwanzaa

At his annul message in Philadelphia Maulana Ron Karenga the founder of the Pa-African cultural celebration Kwanzaa told an enthusiastic audience at the William Penn High School in North Philadelphia Kwanzaa calls its celebrants to take on a larger vison of themselves and the world. Appearing at an event sponsored by the local Kwanzaa Cooperative and the Philadelphia area Kawaida Organization which he founded, Maulana Karenga exhorted the listeners to use the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa called the Nguzu Saba to transform their lives and by extension the world. “Anchoring ourselves in the rich ancient and current resources of our own culture, we must extend outward, and be rightfully concerned not only with the well-being and flourishing of our families and community, but also with the well-being and wholeness of the world. As if to remind us of this responsibility, one of the three ways to say human being in Swahili is ‘mlimwengu’ which literally means ‘world dweller’, one who lives in the world. And we know from the Odu Ifa that we are divinely chosen to bring good in this world in which we live, grow and ground ourselves. It is here that the vision and values of Kwanzaa call on us to think and act in such a way that we not only prevent and counter evil and injury to the world, but also create the foundation and framework for its health, well-being and wholeness as a shared and ongoing good. Clearly, this calls for us to embrace principles and engage in practices which support and achieve this aim, and Kwanzaa offers as a clear path to pursue this in the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles. For these core values are not simply principles, but also at the same time required practices.”
The inter-generational audience was extremely receptive to Karenga’s message. They responded in the usual call and response manner, whenever Karenga said anything that resonated with them, shouting out “teach”, “tell it”, “come on”, “hold that thought” or “Ashe’” much to Karenga’s delight. Departing from his prepared text, Karenga challenged the audience to action, to take charge and restore order in the family, the community and world. “The health of the world is good for us. If the forests are destroyed, f the tropical forests are destroyed, if the ozone is destroyed and the waters are polluted and the ground are poisoned and kind of thing, so we can not think just in terms of a gang problem. We do have a gang problem, but it ain’t just in the community. The guy that globalizes the world is a bandit and a band of gangsters. Whoever thought that globalism was anything else but white thuggery spread abroad... You can’t keep giving an outlaw a pass.” The crowd roared in approval
Karenga not only s poke on global issues he also hit on problems in our community. “You can’t talk about being a strong parent if you let your children to take over your house. One of the saddest things you can see is to see older people bowing and bucking for their children. ‘Okay baby it’s your turn’. How can it be baby’ turn, baby didn’t even know there was a turn? Baby is baby, that’s why you call baby baby, baby hasn’t got made yet... You have to see yourself as a responsible person. I speak especially to the adults because the children will never grow up if you retrograde back to infancy. Your children are not your friends and they are not you peers. They are looking for how to direct their bodies towards good and expansive ends. In our culture we had traditions that had parents do just that, not just hand them a credit card or become an ATM machine to sell for them. Teach them to speak truth, do justice, to honor their elders and their ancestors, cherish intelligence and their children.”
Karenga tied his message about Kwanzaa and the Nguzo Saba to the need to take on a global view of life and commit oneself to do good and bring about a transformation of the world. “It is this unbending belief in the good under girded by the work and struggle that gives it life and lifts us up that makes us have faith that Darfur, Haiti and all oppressed people will eventually be free, that the victims of Katrina will rise above the ruins around them and rebuild, that justice will actually be for everyone, that we can find and follow a way to a worthy peace in the world, that the critical needs of health care, housing and hunger will be honestly confronted and met, and that we can together conceive a way to a new world, begin to walk towards it, work tirelessly for it, and eventually achieve and enjoy it together. If we practiced just some of these principles just some of the time what a wonderful transformation we could bring about in the world.”
The atmosphere in the school was warm and festive. An African Marketplace was set up in e hallway which offered educational and culturally oriented items. The program also featured performances showcasing positive organizations making a major impact on young people. Karenga’s lecture was preceded by performances by the Say Yes To Education Freedom Steppers and the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble. A video of the program was made for information about securing a copy call (215) 769-7324

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