A holiday story: There once was a man named Ron Everett, aka. Doctor Maulana Karenga who during the late 1960s was a commander of a black power movement calling itself United Slaves [now Organization Us] which was a violent rival to the Black Panthers. In the 1970s Karenga served four years in prison for conspiracy and assault in the sadistic torturing of two female followers. An avowed Marxist, he now spends his days, naturally, as a professor and chair of African studies at California State University, Long Beach.
The rather unseemly Karenga’s legacy lives on in the holiday festival our children learn about in school called “Kwanzaa.” But I wonder how many of these children learn that in 1966 Karenga quite simply invented Kwanzaa out of thin air. Billy Hallowell's informative TheBlaze article laying out the celebration in great detail is an excellent read. I, however, am a touch less deferential given the true motives and meaning behind this contrived holiday's genesis.
The Tonel LaKay Drum and Dance ensemble, honoring the cultural heritage of Haiti, performs during the annual Kwanzaaa celebration at the Museum of Natural History, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004, in New York. Kwanza, a celebration of family, community and culture, was established in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to reaffirm a common identity, purpose and direction for African-American people and the world African community. (AP Photo/Jennifer Szymaszek)
Peruse the Official Kwanzaa website, and it praises the “values of African culture.” But Kwanzaa ceremonies have no African counterparts; they are the contrivance of one man with revolutionary and racist predilections. Some aspects of this faux holiday don’t even make sense. For example, on the day of “muhindi” ears of corn are set aside for each child in the family, but corn is not even indigenous to Africa. Corn was first cultivated by Mexican Indians and brought to Africa by the Portuguese.
There’s a reason a so-called “harvest festival” takes place in the period of December 26th to January 1st. This incongruity springs from Karenga’s real aim which was to make Kwanzaa the anti-Christmas. Said Karenga in a 1978 interview: “I put it around Christmas because I knew that’s when a lot of Bloods would be partying.” That in any of the textbooks? Also, consider these coincidences. The Kwanzaa celebration includes a wine glass that closely resembles a chalice associated with the Last Supper; the seven-stemmed candlestick could easily be mistaken for a Hanukkah menorah.
Like it or not, Kwanzaa’s roots are subtly racist. Karenga is blatantly honest in that he envisioned Kwanzaa as a black alternative to supplant Christmas, which he calls “a white man’s holiday based on a white man’s religion.” (Wrong again Professor: Christianity thrived in North Africa long before it became a force in Western Europe.)
Karenga’s Kwanzaa, the website states, “was created to reaffirm and restore our rootedness [sic] in African culture. It is, therefore, an expression of recovery and reconstruction of African culture which was being conducted in the general context of the Black Liberation Movement of the '60's and in the specific context of The Organization Us, the founding organization of Kwanzaa and the authoritative keeper of its tradition.” (Black Liberation Movement, huh? Got it.)
The website further offers that Kwanzaa is “based on the rich, ancient and varied common ground of their Africanness.” I’ll set aside the oddly contradictory statement “varied common ground” and simply present that while this sounds all warm and fuzzy an ugly truth belies this notion of African oneness: Africans have done more than their fair share of brutalizing one another. Nor have they ever had anything close to continental unity on such a vast land mass that stretches from the ports of the Mediterranean, to the rocky shores of the Cape Of Good Hope. As with natives of any continent, Africans have in fact waged bloody and savage war among themselves for centuries, well before the arrival of white colonists or slave traders and long after their last ship sailed. Inter-tribal genocides in our own day have wiped out millions in central Africa and cruel dictatorships sprinkle the continent while psychotic warlords rule with medieval brutality from Somalia to Liberia.
This false image of pan-African identity is evident even in the name of the holiday. The term “kwanzaa” comes from the Swahili “matuda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits of the harvest”…in winterof course. The website explains that in the early days of the holiday (way back in the late 1960s) there were seven children of the Organization Us who each wanted to represent a letter of Kwanza, so what the heck, just add the extra ‘a’ to make it craps. There are no rules when you make up your own holiday. Karenga, an African studies professor remember, calls Swahili, “the most widely spoken African language.” But Swahili is common in only a few countries and they’re all on or near the east coast, whereas most American slaves were snatched from the west and as such Swahili to them would have been as alien a sound as Cantonese. If anything the most common tongue in Africa these days is Arabic. Whatever, professor.
I am well aware of the manic obsession in our public schools with “celebrating diversity” (except where it matters most: diversity of ideas) but at what point does a school system allow the truth to trump political correctness? Perhaps a starting point is to no longer acknowledge a conjured up holiday by a felonious 1960s radical with no roots whatsoever in either the continent or the culture it professes to celebrate. Why legitimize a racist whose real purpose was to stick it to the man by sabotaging Christmas especially—a holiday celebrated on all continents by over billion people of all races—by forwarding a decidedly anti-American (and anti-white) revolutionary statement thinly veiled as a cultural celebration?
The oft-overlooked issue I have with denying school children the true story of Christmas while proffering Kwanzaa stems from my love of history as much as my personal faith. After all, people can hold differing views as to the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. But no one can deny that he was the most significant figure in Western history whose simple but powerful message of peace on earth and goodwill towards mankind fundamentally changed the world in which we live—and is still shaping the story of humanity 2,000 years after his death.
For our schools to prohibit its students from even commemorating the birth of such a legitimate force while giving a nod to a made-up holiday no older than I am simply because of hypersensitivity to its racial overtone is educational malpractice, not to mention of course the ultimate expression of political correctness gone mad.
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