Connect with historical authentic culture, not Kwanzaa

Dec 26, 2013, 6:00 am

Dawud Walid: Connect with historical authentic culture, not Kwanzaa


As some Black Americans are preparing to recognize the days of Kwanzaa, which runs from Dec. 26-Jan. 1, I will not be celebrating it because I have never seen it as a legitimate observance within collective history of my predecessors.

Kwanzaa, being a newly-invented observance, is a hodgepodge of rituals that are not truly authentic to most Black Americans’ ancestors, who were West Africans. Lighting menorahs and using terms that are Swahili have nothing to do with my roots.

West Africans weren’t lighting menorahs 400 years ago, nor were they using Swahili terminology. Menorahs are used by some Jewish people for Hanukkah (which isn’t even a high holy season for them), and Swahili is an East African language.

This recently-created observance would have more of a tinge of authenticity if its rituals and terms came from the Hausa, Mandinka or other tribes, which we are certain that Black Americans descend.

Another issue that I have with Kwanzaa stems from its founder Maulana Karenga, who is documented as having been a FBI dupe during the COINTELPRO era.

It’s quite ironic that a holiday season, which was instituted to reconnect Black Americans with the dignity of our past, was founded by a man who was an FBI dupe during that infamous government program, which was designed to destabilize and disturb the movement for Black self-determination in America.

I understand why Black Americans yearn to feel connected with our African roots, which we were severed from during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and chattel slavery in the South. I simply prefer to connect with that which has historical merit and authenticity rather than a bogus holiday that has little to do with our roots nor is anything celebrated in Africa.


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