Our Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba Celebrations Embody African-centered Reasons for This and Every Season!

Posted on December 20, 2011 by


By Bro. Mxolisi

(For the best little Kwanzaa book of all times!! AND the best set of Kwanzaa songs of all times!! visit my Amazon store: http://www.amazon.com/shops/A22GM3T4AD8P9L)

Traditionally speaking, whenever African people gather to perform their sacred rituals, their solemn ceremonies, or for the observance of their holy days (holidays), it is not merely for superficial social entertainment nor the crass display and consumption of meaningless material stuff. Through the rhythms, songs, dances, masks and other symbols, the overriding purpose is to teach the children, deepen and strengthen the youth, and reinforce and renew the adults and elders regarding the values, principles and expectations upon which their families, community and nation are established.

Masks, body paint, and other symbols and implements, as colorful as they might be, are not merely for aesthetic affect. They serve to provide for the transformation of the consciousness of the participants, providing for “possession” or a “transubstantiation effect” whereby individuals experience a loss of their identity or sense of time and place, as they become one with the values, principles, historical events or spirits (ancestral spirits, spiritual aspects of nature, as well as particular aspects of The Most High) that are pertinent to the ceremony or celebration.

These proceedings serve to provide for the reinforcement and inspiration of the participants, relative to the world-view– (the system of values, attitudes, and beliefs which provide the foundation for understanding the world in which they live and its everyday events and occurrences) — that they have learned, loved and practiced at every stage of life, from infancy onward.

These proceedings serve to provide for the spiritual strengthening and rebirth of participants at higher, deeper, broader levels of understanding and appreciation for their personal and collective responsibilities relative to the values, principles and spiritual elements involved; but always with regard to the omnipresence and pertinence of The Most High.

As It Was With Sacred Ancestors,

Let It Be With You & Me

One of the most ancient examples of this phenomenon, which is known throughout our Motherland, is embodied in the Epagomenal Days (E-Days) observances of our ancient  Ancestors of Kemet (Egypt). These grew from their perceptions of an extraordinary period in the drama of the evolutions of creation; a period during which the Creator called into being a quintessential quintet of distinct mythological-historical beings (Neteru/Ancestors: Asar, Aset, Heru, Nbt-Het and Set) who were aspects of the Creator’s own infinity of possibilities. They were to be the catalysts for the drama of the being and becoming of the entire human race.

Their perceptions of and reverence for this extraordinary development led those Ancestors to see the Earth as having a cycle of 365 days (plus or minus ¼ day) each year, with there being 12 months of 30 days each, plus 5 E-Days belonging to no month of the calendar, with the E-Days period expanding to 6 days every 4th year.

Within the quintessential quintet there was, you might say, the spiritual DNA for all possible moral and ethical responses to the opportunities and challenges that life can present. During the E-Days of each year our Ancestors of Kemet engaged in deep soul searching, reflective prayers, meditations and rituals of personal and interpersonal atonement, and the rededication of their lives to positive moral and ethical responses to all events that life would bring: Truth, Justice, Righteousness & Propriety, Harmony, Balance, Right Order, and Reciprocity — ALWAYS!  Fear, Ignorance & Superstition, Deceptiveness, Injustice & Unrighteousness, Disharmony, Imbalance & Pathological Selfishness — NEVER!

The E-Days would be followed by the New Year celebration, and numerous other sacred observances throughout the seasons of the year; multiple opportunities to check themselves on the scales of morality and ethics and not wreck themselves on the rocks of ungodliness. This way of life empowered Kemet to become the intellectual and spiritual giant of the ancient world, in virtually every area of endeavor under the sun.

In an essay entitled “WHAT EGYPT STILL HAS TO TEACH US”,  Normandi Ellis writes, “The fact that Egyptian people celebrated over 300 feast days a year attests to the fact that they viewed every day as a miracle, a holy event. The neters were invoked and bore witness to every tilling of the field, every sowing of seed, every cutting of the grain, every building project, every birth and death, every rise of the constellations. All life to the ancient Egyptian was a manifestation of Light, of the god Ra. . . . The ancient Egyptians saw themselves and all humanity as forms of the Divine. Humankind was created by Ra as ‘his likeness that came forth from his flesh’. . . ”

(For Ellis’ entire essay:


Extracting Ourselves From Consciousness-as-usual

As it was with the E-Days of ancient times, and innumerable celebrations across the span of African civilizations, our days of Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba offer us the opportunity to extract ourselves from business-as-usual (consciousness-as-usual). They offer us opportunity to immerse ourselves in the omnipresence of the Creator and Ancestors, and surrender to the sacred dimensions of the rhythms, libations, principles and symbols — to be strengthened and re-birthed to higher, broader, deeper levels of understanding, appreciation and dedication by which to pursue the personal, interpersonal, and communal victories (local and worldwide) that our hearts and souls envision.

The Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba foundational symbol, the Mkeka/Straw Mat, calls us to envision, revere and become one-with the immaculate interconnectedness of Creator and Creation, divinity and humanity, and the sacredness of all life. From that foundation the principle of Umoja/Unity arises, whereby we can be born/reborn into consciousness of and reverence for the fact that each of us (all of us) are sons and daughters of The Most High who are worthy of the love, respect, compassion and fellowship that this reality commands, who will allow nothing (not age, gender, finances, denominational nor tribal distinctions) to undermine this sacred reality!

From that great foundation, we are called to go forward – pouring libations to honor worthy Ancestors and invoking their presence; to allow the eternal realities of the profound achievements of our Ancestors to inspire us to ever larger visions of our capabilities (Nia);

to immerse ourselves in the cultivation and development of visions and avenues that provide for the greatest good for the greatest of our numbers (Kujichagulia); to

Look who’s here!

immerse ourselves in the vision of using every resource at our individual and collective command – mental, spiritual, financial, et al – to produce, protect and perpetuate that greatest good through organizations and programs, schools, businesses and other institutions that we develop to serve our needs (Ujima & Ujamaa);

to immerse ourselves in and soak up the truth of the Creator’s sacred essence living within us, entrusting unto us the power to create and sustain the conditions by which we are able to know prosperity and peace, and our ever-increasing well-being (Kuumba!);

to immerse ourselves, without reservation, in the consciousness of the righteousness and ultimate victory of our endeavors when we walk each day in the way to which these principles call us (Imani), and when we consistently, diligently, systematically involve and teach our children (Vibunzi/Muhindi)!


We Must Do All We Can!

After a week of such immersion with family and friends, this realization emerges — with crystal clarity: The Days of Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba, like the E-Days and the whole spectrum of African celebrations, are not merely for superficial socializing! And those of us who know and feel and live within the purpose and power of this reality have serious work to do. We must do all we can, in every way we can, to allow the harmonic convergence and manifestation of these elements in our lives to lead us in developing effective ways to communicate their truth, beauty and goodness to greater numbers of our people, in all walks of life.

Can we commit ourselves to do all we can, in every way we can, to be effective in communicating the immaculate Truth, Beauty and Goodness of Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba to just one Sister or Brother who currently does not truly understand? Can we do one person per each season of the year? Get carried away and do one per month; one per week? (Not to mention our very own family members!) No need to frustrate ourselves with trying to get everything done in a single season, but we must not allow a single season to pass without doing all we can.

From the January birthdays of Dr. King and Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Zora Neal Hurston and Jackie Robinson, to the December birthdays of Ossie Davis and Madam C.J. Walker, there are innumerable worthy Ancestors, and significant historical developments (and contemporary challenges), that are not suffering from over-exposure, but are deserving of the honor of us remembering and/or revering them in “feast days” and other appropriate, well organized, spirit-and-courage arousing proceedings in which all that is embodied in Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba are allowed to flow and grow. (Not to mention our very own family birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)

If our Ancestors, in the relatively isolated and protected confines of the Nile Valley, saw fit to have “over 300 feast days a year” to help them stay focused on their highest potentials and the greatest good entrusted unto them, how much more must we do?  Bro. Ayi Kwei Armah’s words in “Two Thousand Seasons” are appropriate for this, our Nia enterprise: “This is work of undying worth, the only work of worth in these surroundings blighted with death’s tinsel, in all truth.”

So let us be about this work – through the Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba week, and every week of every year! This is the reason for this season, and every season under the sun!

Kwanzaa Yenu Iwe Na Heri! (May you and yours know a Kwanzaa abundantly full of divine purpose and blessings!)

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Ankh, Udja, Seneb!!!