I feel like as a transracial/transcultural family we need to be made aware of everything that may pertain to our family.
The history of Kwanzaa had never crossed my mind until I saw in ad in a magazine for a kinara and other Kwanzaa related merchandise. I love celebrating almost anything…I assumed I would probably like Kwanzaa, too.
I thought I would look into this “Pan-African” holiday! Afterall, my favorite American Doll®, Addy, placed in the civil war era, celebrated Kwanzaa. There has to be some good historical background to this “holiday”…right?
Well, not really…
First, I realized none of my African friends were aware of Kwanzaa. However, the Official Kwanzaa Website says this: “Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense.” Hmm….
Here is a quote about the non-African origins of Kwanzaa by creator Dr. Maulana Karenga:
“…I did not mean to suggest in any way that Kwanzaa was a continental African holiday rather than Afro-American one. On the contrary. I have always stressed that although Kwanzaa has some historical roots in Africa, it is essentially a product of the particular social conditions and self-determined needs of the Afro-American people.”
- Kwanzaa: origin, concepts, practice. Dec. 1977:
There seems to be a little bit of confusion, for most Americans, in understanding the true origins of Kwanzaa. Everyone I’ve spoken with regarding the true roots of Kwanzaa believe the celebration was created from a true holiday originating from the continent of Africa. This is simply not so.
Okay, so it was created completely in America. So what?
I moved on and started researching why Kwanzaa was created. It seems to have been created as a sort of replacement for Christmas because it “gives Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.” -source
Kwanzaa had still not totally lost me; I went on to read Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture. As a Christian, reading the views on God put the nail in the proverbial coffin for me. It is not just a hint of anti-faith doctrine, that is pretty much the foundation of the secular festival.
I think it is fine if people want to celebrate Kwanzaa, if it means celebrating unity, love, and whatever else it represents to you. I say go for it.
However, Brian and I feel Kwanzaa and its origins do not align with who we are as a family. So, we’re skipping this one.
I lieu of Kwanzaa we will be focusing on educating our children about and celebrating observed holidays in the continent of Africa as well as other cultures around the world. A GREAT source of information on this is kidworldcitizen.org.
On a weird side note: Creator of Kwanzaa, Maulana Karenga, is a convicted felon. He was convicted of torturing a woman with a hot iron.