Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Kwanzaa is not Rastafarian

People think it's African, but it's not. I came up with Kwanzaa because black people wouldn't celebrate it if they knew it was American. Also, I put it around Christmas because I knew that's when a lot of Bloods were partying

It's that time of the year again. For most Zimbabweans, Christian and non-Christian alike, it's Christmas. But not as we know it, or as we knew it. How many remember going kumusha/ekhaya? I never understood why harvest time was around the time of the end of the first term because even at Christmas, there was plenty of grain, pulse etc in the countryside. And the forests were teeming with hute, matunduru (Oh yes, I still remember the names)- fruits which those of us from the city attacked ravenously, even though our stomachs would give us grief later.

That was Christmas then. And everywhere you went, you were stuffed with food. For those that liked ( or were allowed) their drink, there was plenty of the traditional brew. Those from the city would also bring the White man's firewater as well.

Christmas in the city was not so bad either. People liked to complain, but ZBC did try to deliver good shows. I should know, having lived in England and suffered from BBC's total lack of taste. To folks at Pockets Hill, I am sorry for being so harsh on you then, I should have saved it for now when you've degraded yourself to the status of a shameless mind-control tool- and a not very good one at that. But then, in those days I did not know what a telescreen was.....I do remember the Christmas after my Grade 5. One of my aunts came to the country later, and she was telling my mother that Prime Minister Mugabe was going to be an Executive President. No one seemed to know exactly what that meant. Oh, we all do now.

I digress. You cannot believe the hunger. My family is alright- most can afford to go shopping in South Africa or Botswana, but for most other families, it doesn't seem like suburbia at all. Not the old suburbia when we moved in to what was an exclusively White area. So, one can imagine what it must be like for places where there wasn't a lot of money to begin with ( but there was plenty of food, this much I remember, there was always plenty of food even in the townships. Not even a trip to Room 101 is going to erase such vivid memories.)

The Rastafarian community is hit worst by what is going on. This is what concerns me the most, that we are at our lowest possible (it cannot get lower than when a larger proportion of Rastafarian females has no other means of earning a crust than her own body and the average male makes Worzel Gummidge look like a fop in comparison) and we cannot lift a finger to help ourselves. We never seem to have problems organising for useless, meaningless things like turning out en masse to cheer Luciano. But organising for our collective progress, well, I am fast reaching a point where I too will abandon the dream of a vigorous Rastafarian community in a free Zimbabwe.

I was trying to talk to some brethren about economic activities that they can engage in when they brought up the subject of something called Kwanzaa. Most Rastafarians in the urban areas have heard of it now. It is supposed to be this great African festival that is celebrated instead of Christmas. Talking to several Rastafarians, I have come to the conclusion that very little is known of it. So, here goes.

Kwanzaa was dreamed up by someone called Maulana Karenga, nee Ron Everett, described as a "controversial African-American author, political activist and a .......criminal." He appears to be quite big in the States, and imagines himself some sort of chosen teacher to people of African descent there about their heritage. (If I was someone of African descent living in the States and I wanted to tap in to my heritage, well, Africa may be facing wars, famine etc, but it is still there and there are flights daily from all over the USA. There are also thousands of websites etc)

What his admirers won't tell you is that he has been linked to a C.I.A. plot to counter the emergence of groups like the Black Panthers. In fact, two of his cohorts shot Black Panther leaders as a debate over who should lead the Black Studies faculty at an American University descended in to violence. They were upset over some home-truths- a bit like Zimbabwean politics. When they were arrested, it turned out the two assassins were escaped felons. Karenga then went on to imprison and torture two women members of his group because he did not trust them any more. Not bad for a "great teacher".

I am not going to recycle what others have written, I'll let the readers check out my sources themselves. These are whites, so the first reaction is to dismiss the article as "propaganda". Well, I challenge anyone to show me that this so called Karenga chap did not torture these women. I also challenge anyone to show me that he is not linked to the C.I.A's program to manipulate African nationalism in America and here on the motherland by pushing forward megalomaniacs whose only virtue is their peseverence to drown out those Black people who were actually doing something yet keeping their feet on the ground (such as the Panthers)

OK, what of the Kwanzaa festival itself? It has been brought to Zimbabwe by.....Rastafarians from the West and eagerly embraced by locals who always seem to think that it is the brethren from the West who have the knowledge and the "more teachings".

But I feel that Kwanzaa has no place whatsoever in Rastafari. It makes no mention of His Imperial Majesty. Not surprising, since its inventor is disdainful of Rastafari and the entire Judaic tradition on which it is based. His disdain, however, did not prevent him from plagiarising from the Jewish Channukah festival, which by the way was unknown to most African Jews until fairly recently because the African Jewish presence in Africa largely predates the Dispersion that followed the Maccabean/Hasmonian period when Channukah was instituted. But as you can see from the above picture, one of the features of Kwanzaa is something called a Kinara, which is just the word menorah with the Swahili/Bantu prefix ki-. Had he done his research, Dr Karenga would have been aware that corn is not an African crop, but a Native American one, a gift from the Portuguese (who also gave the Indians the chilli)

We already have first fruit festivals in Zimbabwe, with names like inxwala (let's see you get your tongue around that, if you really are fit to teach people about Africa!!!) Now why a Zimbabwean can abandon that, replace it with what appears to be no more two-dimensional than the paper it has been written on, is a mystery to me. But then, when I see the "Rastafarians" sitting at the street corners "reasoning" in affected Jamaican accents, I can understand why one more piece of mumbo-jumbo from the USA would be taken up with such enthusiasm under the much trumpeted banner of "recovering our lost heritage". To all the Rastafarians in Zimbabwe and other places who think that by doing Kwanzaa they are making a bold statement to Babylon, I say; Grow up. A bold statement to Babylon is when you've organised for your bread, places where you can worship and you look after your children etc.

Oh, Judah, keep your feasts.

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