Thursday, January 1, 2015

Nguzo Saba

Jambo, beautiful kindred spirits, and congratulations to making it through and to another year! 

January 1, 2015 is not only the mark of a brand new calendar year, but is also the seventh and final day of joyous Kwanzaa. Today represents Imani, which means faith in in the Swahili language. Coincidentally, it's a fitting word for where I am in my spiritual journey. I'm walking confidently in the direction of my dreams, as quoted by Henry David Thoreau, only because my faith in God has, is, and continues to carry me.

Last year was an interesting year for the black community, mainly because we, as a whole, fiercely struggled to understand what exactly can be done to wash away and rise above the hostility and injustices we've faced for years. We asked questions such as: How are we supposed to protect ourselves and our children from a system that was never designed to do that? How do we stand against racism without taking on the traits of oppression? How will educate our youth, when their own history is being re-written, misinterpreted within curriculum? Whether it was bringing back our girls or preventing the victimization/crucifixion of our men, it was all very surreal to experience a direct parallel of events that occurred during the Civil Rights era in this lifetime.

The most beautiful aspect of this past year was seeing so many young people of different ethnicities and backgrounds across the world rise to the occasion and using their voices to make a difference. It was tragedy that brought on a spark of hope and it can not be said that this generation is not willing to stand for what is right. The most overlooked aspect was witnessing this huge celestial cluster of melanin queens standing up for and protecting their kings, but in that regard, I digress. Through it all, I learned so much about who I am, what I stand for, and what I believe in with endless gratitude for a means to express whatever that may be.

However, this post is less about current/past events and more about applying the Ngozu Sabali (the 7 principles) of Kwanzaa to my life in the new year by making conscious habits to personally contribute to a thriving society. With all that has happened in 2014 alone, it's forced many people of color-including myself- to question if they are a part of the problem or the solution. Chanting about change means nothing without action. Honestly, I can't think of a better way to implement action than by being more aware of the lifestyle choices I'm making for myself on a daily basis and a conscious commitment to making this world a better place.

Listed below are the 7 principles, the breakdown of what they mean, and how I plan to apply each to my life. 
  1. Umoja: Unity 
    • "To strive for and maintain unity within the family, community, nation, and race." 
    • I sincerely believe this is the leading principle for a reason, because I don't believe a society can survive or thrive without it. 
  2. Kujichagulia: Self-Determination
    • "To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves." 
    • No more doubt. No more worry. Sans inhibitions. If I want something that the universe has made available to me, I have to go get it. Dreams will not awaken if I am still asleep. 
  3. Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility
    • "To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and solve them together."
    • In order to rebuild and restore, we have to work together. Much like organs and muscle composites of the human body body, we all have unique, individual functions that contribute to a properly functioning body. We have to do our part and be willing to work together to make postive things happen in our communities. 
  4. Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics
    • "To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together."
    • This principle deals with innovation, entrepreneurship, and the  ongoing support and growth black owned businesses.  There is so much untapped potential roaming this earth; black magic just waiting to be explored and presented to the world. Burn it down this time and it'll only come back stronger. 
  5. Nia: Purpose
    • "To restore African people to their traditional greatness.
    • We are literally the descendants of royalty. I think the overall purpose of strong traditions such as Kwanzaa is to make people more aware of who we are, of who we always were. It is our purpose to allow that self-knowledge to guide us when it comes to setting personal goals that are selflessly beneficial to the community at large. It is our natural obligation to be great, because greatness is forever imprinted in our DNA.
  6. Kuumba: Creativity
    • "To do as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it."
    • Mere scraps of what someone else has created are no longer acceptable. If we expect see powerful, dynamic, amazing things taking place in our own community, we have to utilize the skills and talents we have to create a better and more prosperous reality for the generations to come. 
  7. Imani: Faith
    • "To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers and our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle."
    • I believe in a higher power just as much as I believe in my ancestors, teachers, and guardians, a great deal of whom exemplify black excellence. Because I believe in such things that are bigger than myself, I have faith that the resilience of my people will shine and conquer. 
I know this post was pretty long-winded, but it is my hope that whoever read it was able to learn something, at the very least. It's possible to apply these principles even if a person who has stumbled across this isn't African. It is my personal pleasure to bypass cultural differences through things I can personally relate to.

What traditions do you celebrate? What do they mean and how can they be applied to enhance the quality of life for you?

♥ Chymere A.


1 comment

  1. fist off, happy new year!
    love this post and i agree 100%.
    this was a trying year for blacks, particularly those in america.
    but, as you mentioned, it was beautiful seeing people off all races and walks of life coming together to fight injustice.
    hopefully this is the spark that will ignite change.



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