Kwanzaa / Nguzo Saba: Foundations for Our Traditional & Potential Greatness!!

Posted on January 26, 2017 by


Kwanzaa / Nguzo Saba:

Foundations for Our Traditional & Potential Greatness!!

(A 24/7/365 Transformational Revolution!)

By Min. Mxolisi Ozo-Sowande


(The Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba celebration came into being, reportedly, after a young girl whose family was associated with the Los Angeles-based Us organization raised the question: When are we going to have a holiday that’s about us as a people?

 She was likely responding to the stirrings that the organization’s discussions of Kawaida philosophy were bringing to her young mind, regarding the need for the best of traditional African thought and practice to be the foundation for our African lives as we struggle to know and be the fullest, most creative and humane beings that we can be, in the midst of the ongoing anti-African essence of the societies and settings in which we find ourselves – in the U.S. and around the world.

 The Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba celebration became the organization’s response to that young sister’s question, as well as a great light of inspiration and empowerment for an untold number of Africans around the world who wrestle with the challenges of helping greater numbers of our people to rise up from the ashes of fear, ignorance and superstition – shame, self-doubt, divisiveness and self-destruction – that the anti-African policies, practices, attitudes and celebrations that surround us have burned into our lives for far too many generations. In that light the following is presented.)


When our scholars say that we as a people – African people – have been at our greatest when we have been closest to “GOD”, they are giving reference to the way(s) of life arising from the Kujichagulia spirituality of our people prior to the incursions and impositions of yurugu cultural-spiritual genocide upon us.

The Sacred African Way that came to life through the Kujichagulia spirituality of our people recognizes and respects that we are sons and daughters of the Most High Creator; that no one – not one of us – lacks some of the essence of NTR’s (GOD’s) great beauty; that each of us is a chosen one; and that our highest calling is to know that truth and to bring its beauty to bear on all of life, so all of life can enjoy its fruits.

The heart and soul of our Sacred African Way, with its various manifestations in the numerous “villages” of our World African Community, is significantly reflected in this expression from Ayi Kwei Armah’s “2000 Seasons:”

Summer Solstice“. . . there is a great force in the world, a force spiritual and able to shape the physical universe, but . . . that force is not something cut off, not something separate from ourselves. It is an energy in us, strongest in our working, breathing, thinking together as one people; weakest when we are scattered, confused, broken into individual, unconnected fragments.”

And the “working, breathing, thinking together” that Our Way calls us to know, live and love is largely reflected in the principles and symbols of the Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba tradition which embodies “inherent spiritual qualities” drawn from the vast number of our African spiritual systems — ancient and contemporary.

The Mkeka, the woven reed (or straw) mat is the foundational symbol within the Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba tradition. It is commonly respected as the symbol of our African history, heritage and legacy; the primordial and eternal achievements and contributions of our Ancestors for the emergence and evolution of intelligent humanity and civilization. And it is from this foundational symbol that all things in the Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba celebration and way of life arise.

It is important for us to know that the woven reed mat has played an extraordinary role in our African spiritual systems for ages beyond number – from pre-Dynastic Kemet (and beyond) as well as through contemporary African spiritual traditions.

neithIn pre-Dynastic Kemet, and well into the Dynastic era, the NTR Neith, as the goddess of creation and weaving, was said to reweave the world daily on her loom. An interior wall of the temple at Esna records an account of creation in which Neith brings forth (weaves) the first land from the primeval waters of the Nun. It was held that all she conceived in her heart came into being through the daily output of her sacred loom.

In those ancient days, the building of shrines in which to house the NTR/GOD symbols of the respective gnomes was a practice of our Ancestors, and it was a woven reed mat that served as the flooring upon which their sacred symbols were placed. And when stone became the primary material for the building of shrines, it was common for images of the woven reed mat to be etched into the stone that was to serve as flooring in those shrines.

In the Ifa/Yoruba tradition, and numerous other African spiritual traditions (past and present), the woven mat (the Healing Mat) continues to play vital roles. In the Ifa/Yoruba tradition we find the following:

“During most Orisa ceremonies joyous movement becomes collective dancing that occurs in front of a mat. In Ifa worship, the mat is considered sacred space. It is the place where the Spirit realm and the Earth realm connect. When an Orisha worshipper dances in front of the mat, they are surrendering to the possibility of Spirit possession. The experience of Spirit possession is not the intrusion of some alien entity. From the perspective of Ifa, Spirit possession is a key element in the integration of the total self. This point of view suggests that the mat is a doorway that allows the human to access the invisible dimension of Spiritual influence.” (from “Iba’se Orisa” by Awo Fa’lokun Fatunmbi)

When we allow this history and spirit to be woven into our hearts and souls, and every cell and fiber of our individual and collective being, we grow in respecting the Earth itself as The Woven Mat (the Mkeka extraordinaire!) upon which we are to do nothing but acts of sacredness, righteousness and love. We grow in truly honoring the worthy Ancestors who are represented by the Kinaras/Candleholders that we place upon our Mkekas, and we seriously endeavor to open ourselves to the possibility of possession, inspiration and empowerment by the spirits and principles — Nguzo Saba/Seven Principles — that infused their respective lives. We are opening the doorway to the fullness of the sacred beauty and chosen-ness entrusted unto us by our Creator — the greatness that is closeness to GOD/NTR! This is our Sacred African Way!kwanzaa symbols

Umoja/Unity is a preeminent Principle that flows from that doorway, calling us to respect and revere that no one – not one of us! – is without some of NTR’s beauty; that each of us has been chosen for greatness. Strive always to treat one another for what we truly are – manifestations of the essence The Most High!

Kujichagulia/Self-Determination, resounds there, too: Work and Breathe and Think together, using the seeing of your eyes, hearing of your ears, breathing of your nostrils, the powers of your hearts and minds, and your capacity to communicate and reason together effectively, in order to envision and implement that which serves your greatest good as family, community and chosen people!

Ujima/Collective Work & Responsibility, is in that sacred flow: This Principle calls us to be willing, to the fullest extent of our capabilities, to assist members of your family and community to achieve the greatest good and well-being that life can yield. It’s not talk but walk! It is action designed to achieve the greatest good that a given life or situation has potential to yield.

Ujamaa/Cooperative Economics: This principle calls on us to use the best know-how in the universe of economic activity and strategies to maximize our buying power, employment and ownership opportunities, and long-term economic well-being – at every level, on every front. Ujamaa also means “family” and calls us as family and community to establish and support networks of enterprises whose concepts of profit and success include serving and assisting those whose patronage provides for that success.

Nia/Purpose involves our looking back to truly-deeply appreciate the awesome discoveries and achievements of our ancestors, the superior creators and innovators in every field of human endeavor — agriculture, medicine, architecture, economics, education, politics, science, spirituality and more, and allowing the desire and determination that this knowledge can bring to our individual and collective consciousness to be a driving force for the emulation or surpassing of that excellence in our Liberation/Restoration endeavors.

Kuumba/Creativity is there, too — calling on you, calling on us, to know that this word (Kuumba) supremely refers to the Spirit of NTR/GOD doing the work of Creation; reminding us to strive to carry out all of our acts — acts of sacredness, righteousness and love — in and through that spirit-power for the greatest good of our family, community and people!

Imani/Faith flows from that doorway of divinity, as it has always been with our Sacred African Way. It’s that “something within” that keeps us knowing that we are beautiful and chosen, and keeps us embracing and practicing these principles (and others), knowing that our Sacred African Way of Truth and Righteousness will ultimately provide for the prosperity and peace of our families and communities and all the Earth!

kwanzaa The Muhindi (Vibunzi)/Ears of Corn upon our Mkekas serve to remind us that we must be diligent to weave our children into this sacred way — this vision, this greatness — from day-one of their earthly existence (from before that and beyond), protecting them from the wretchedness that relentlessly seeks to consume their souls. Widely held wisdom of our Sacred African Way holds that a child is not a complete being until they have been taught the ways (The Way) of their family, community, nation — their people, and given sufficient opportunity to demonstrate that they understand and are committed to that sacred way. In that light and spirit, it is truly incumbent on us to teach the children to truly know who they are – their sacred beauty and chosen-ness – and to guide them to the practice of bringing those sacred qualities to bear in all that they do.


Clearly then, Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba is not merely about an annual one-week celebration. It’s about a 24/7 Revolution. It’s about the Revolution that will not (cannot) be televised nor realized except through the heart-mind-body-soul and spirit commitments and diligence of Africans — (in the U.S. and throughout the World African Comrbg-fistmunity) — to liberate ourselves from the philosophies and theologies of the inherent wretchedness of the humankind and being assigned to the lowest levels of that wretchedness by those who dominate the societies, settings and systems into which we have fallen.

It’s about Revolutionary Transformations taking place in every cell and fiber of every African person on Earth, empowering us to know, beyond all doubt, that the Image and Essence of our Creator lives in us and through us; that we are created to share and participate in IT’s divine and eternal nature; that IT is calling us – through every breath of our lives and every beat of our hearts — to rise up and work, breathe and think together – in Unity – in order to manifest the fullness of the unlimited power of this reality and thereby create, maintain and perpetuate the greatest good for our people in all things and, ultimately, for all of humanity.

The Revolutionary Mission for those of us who know and love, live and grow on these foundations of our traditional and potential greatness is to consistently, relentlessly do all we can – every day, every way we can – to share the message by word and deed, and by the works of the various organizations and projects with which we are involved, in order to inspire and recruit new warriors to our ranks – men and women, boys and girls.

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 Revolutionary 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 – not only through the Kwanzaa/Nguzo Saba week, but for 300 days and more throughout the year! It’s the reason for every season under the sun!!

The greatness awaits our return!!!

It’s in our hands, if it’s in our hearts!!!