Back Like I Never Left! Kwanzaa Edition

Ok,

you’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been since December 31st and where the Hell the posts have been (or…you just stopped coming to the site).

Well my friends,

I put your regularly scheduled program on hold for the sake of enlightening you on some Kwanzaa stuff that you might not have known about. True indeed, it wasn’t the most extensive Kwanzaa blogging out there, but it got the job done. I also admit that I was being kinda lazy because I’ve been diligently NOT being lazy, working on my First ever original music project, coming this year at the end of Spring.

But just so you have an idea of what my experience was like, here’s some footage of the most pivotal day of the Kwanzaa celebration and how I brought it in.

I took the oppurtunity to introduce my Nephew Ramale (a.k.a. Winnie) to this Holiday by way of his Auntie and the homegirl of all homegirl’s: Indigo.

I didn’t celebrate Kwanzaa the way I wanted to, so this was the only day that there was really a concerted effort to observe and carry things out. I wound up living the principles and days vicariously through the blog, and through you in the process (yeah, probably a bit more laziness on my part).

This all went down at the dope Duplex apartment that she inhabits with our Resident renaissance chic, the Notorious TDJ and the unofficial 16’s Candles PR person Ms. Daryl (yeah, that’s a woman – I call her Penny cause she looks like Young Janet Jackson), in the magical Planet of Brooklyn. We affectionately refer to this crib as The Living Single pad, because of the Dynamic of the uhmm…single ladies and their differing personalities all co-existing in Brooklyn. Make sense now? Yeah, yeah, I know they’re missing a 4th – sue us! Geez!! But I guess this make me Kyle in this equation??

Ironically enough, I’m more like the male version of Maxine (Pause), the damn near 4th roomate who’s place you never see, but is frequently involved in the goings-on to provide sarcastic and colorful commentary. Not to mention, I’m always down to leave their place with something I didn’t come in with – ya dig?

Who am I to ruin tradition??!

So yes, I took my 5 Year old nephew all the way to another Borough after 8:30 P.M. on a cold December 26th night in 2009, only to return him home to his mother at 3:30 A.M. in the morning. Why?? because that’s how bad I wanted to put the boy on to some sense of culture DAMMIT!! And he wasn’t going to sleep anyway.

Ask Indigo who still had energy to ask about playing video games that night and you’ll see I lost 8 times over in that battle. But ask who enjoyed an hour long nap on the couch before hitting the road and I win!!

So here goes;

With TDJ being MIA on said Night, Indigo played Den Mother, Hostess, and Leader to our makeshift family to make this Umoja special for my nephew. He helped her clean greens (not Collards) as she cooked and prepared our food. I was put on dish duty – which I HATE,  and we all shared reading duties as we ran through definitions, origins and motivations behind our items and principles for the night.

Indigo’s little Sister, The gangster, Megan (a.k.a. Sis) was also in the building (literally).

You really don’t have to watch this whole video, because it’s long and I couldn’t edit it and after a while it just drags on and seems like something that you feel like you weren’t supposed to be watching from a blog.

But pay attention to the funny parts like Winnie counting everyone as Brown except for Daryl. And how the Hell did Daryl get Auntie Status on her first night of meeting him??

(“Auntie Daryl”?? – not quite)

or the never-ending one-liners from Winnie like, “I give up”, Or my favorite, compliment-fishing- pat-on-the-back “I’m Smart!”.

And nevermind my scraggly appearance, It’s not about me..we did this for Kwanzaa.

Besides, it was a work Day!

Enjoy, and then we’re back to business. We’ll do it better next year.

http://www.vimeo.com/8585391

My Kwanzaa Story x The Black Candle Documentary Trailer

God!

I’m trying to figure out the best way to make this post short but I have so much to say about this.

I resolved last year to try to make a collective effort to get all of my friends and family to embrace the celebration of Kwanzaa this time around. I was introduced to it in the 3rd grade, and then my family tried to initiate it into practice before the turn of the century courtesy of my brother Khalid’s ex-wife who thought it was a happy medium for my family that is part Islamic, part Christian, and part whatever.

Safe to say it didn’t stick, although my sister Veen and her children and husband picked it up a few years back and have been going strong now for a minute.

So I was determined to re-teach myself the values and rituals, but this time with a fuller understanding of why and how. As a child and the way it was presented to me in school, I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread that this even existed.

But as I grew older, I got severely turned off by Afrocentricity and the personalities of people who were engulfed in it. In my experience, the folk who are super in touch with their “Roots” have a tendency to be dramatic, overbearing and a little outdated. I never quite got the whole Pan -African thing. Africa is the Biggest continent in the world, with the most countries and nations, and what afrocentricity does is blend it all into a hodgepodge of oneness, mostly leaning towards the West African influences, as if each region shouldn’t be acknowledged for it’s individual identity and cultural distinction. Somalia is nothing like Togo. And Swaziland is nothing like Morrocco. I even had to ask if Swahili is a national language of any African country, and Iam still researching. Yet and still, it is the universal dialect of Africa-obsessed Americans.

So my experience has been a jaded one. I have spent a great amount of my lifetime around this lifestyle, and have rarely come across someone who is truly down to Earth and in touch with their African ancestry. It always just seems so sad to me that we as Black Americans will always be that people who will never really know our clear history, and only be able to tap into it by engaging in these neo – cultural, amalgamations of traditions scattered across The Continent. What’s even more saddening to me is that in my experience, Africans who I’ve met from the continent never seem to have such a sense of urgency as we do, and quickly differentiate themsleves from the African-American. Although, by technicality, they themselves are classified as such.

But what an amazing people we are for trying!, and always creating something from nothing.

I want to be as in touch with my ancestry as possible, but I don’t want to have to grow dreadlocks or wear a dashiki to exhibit this. I don’t need to have a bunch of statues of oblong breasted figures or giraffes around the house or do dances. What I need to do is just talk to my Grandmother who is a well of history herself and can tell me firsthand so many things about her life growing up as a Liberian woman. Lord knows my Mom sucks at it. She can only remember her life in Africa up to the age of 9. Which was quite an Americanized one, since most people contest that Liberia is a made up Country.

Nevertheless, I wanted to get into Kwanzaa for what it represents, and coincidentally, my homegirl Indigo put me on to this film that was done by a talented Young Man named M. K. Asante Jr. titled The Black Candle. It’s an award winning documentary on the black experience and the creation and foundation of the Kwanzaa celebration that features in depth commentary by the creator of the holiday(Maulana Karenga), as well as many famous Black leaders, and is narrated by the one of a kind Maya Angelou. You should really read the description on the youtube page, because it does it better than I can.

Now this film blew me away and I took my little nephew Winnie to see it with me. We watched it in a screening room of the Teachers’ College among a group of teenagers. Prior to this viewing, Winnie asked me what Kwanzaa was, and I was shocked to see that his school hadn’t yet made mention of this celebration that by now is so widely practiced that it should be given it’s own televised parade (but that would be too black). But even more than that, I was taken aback at how many of the teenagers themselves were in the dark about it, as their questions and comments after the viewing displayed a total lack of awareness.

This was an issue that was visited in the documentary itself. The quick clips from street interviews with local youth pointed at the fact that there is a lack of positive self awareness and crucial historical education.

I kept thinking, damn, how could something I learned back in the day in 3rd grade have regressed to a point of obscurity in the local education system instead of progressed??  I thought curriculum was supposed to advance! It’s not like I went to a special school where the aim was teaching Blackness.

This let me down a bit, but the film gave me such a reinforced and stronger motivation to take on the Kwanzaa festivities, with renewed determination to instill some of the principles into my nephew while he’s still young. I also want to see the togetherness of my friends and family all moving in unison for something that we may actually understand all of, as opposed to Christmas, where we just do without really thinking about why.

I’m also Hellbent on making this holiday Fly! It’s not meant to be commercialized, but still, it’s not all about hand woven baskets and books. We can have a 7 day extravaganza of dope gift-gving (homemade and store-bought) AND enlightenment.

So let the Celebration begin!

It all goes down on the 26th of December. I’ll be posting up each principle daily. I  just hope I can get my stuff in time…

Check this Blog; The Artistry Of Health

Yes indeed,

my cypher wouldn’t be complete without putting you on to me and TDJ‘s better third,

Our homegirl Indigo and her blog; The Artistry of Health

http://artistryofhealth.blogspot.com/

The blog centers around Dietary choices and alternative food recipes, health, wellness and will damn sure put you on to some tips and techniques you may have never known about that can save your life. Word, I’m not as vegetarian as I could be, but I’m about to kick a couple things in 2010.

You should also know that Indi is an Artist. No, a real Artist. Her paint game is sick and you may see her pop up on stage with me at a show near you doing her thing on the mic as well. Don’t say you weren’t educated…