When Will We Truly Start Incorporating The Principals of Kwanzaa for Nation Building?

Black Buffalo Convention @ The CRUCIAL Center  January 11

by Lion of Buffalo UNIA Division#433 

Every year we see a major hustle and bustle around certain cultural community events. Here in Buffalo the idea of bringing a popular guest speaker from out of town will bring out vendors, musicians, artists, visitors from out of town, volunteers, religious leaders, community groups and even politicians with an energy and vigor that is unmatched. The evidence of which, is the fact that our two largest events are not only the largest events the Black community hosts here in Buffalo, but are consistently among the top three of their kind nationally in attendance. What would Black Buffalo look like if these efforts were emulated for the purpose of Nation building? Are we truly practicing Umoja?

It has long been identified that individualism and opportunism is antithetical to building the “village to raise a child.” Selfish, self-centered and self-serving actions are not the same as, “defining and naming ourselves, as well as creating and speaking for ourselves.” The prefix “Self” in Self-determination does not indicate individual opportunism, works or successes. The focus of Kujichagulia should not be on “self ” individually, but “ourselves” collectively. Which brings us to our next point.

Collective work and responsibility is a very specific and instructive phrase. It lets us know that we are to take responsibility and do works, but not individually, not separately, not on our own but collectively. As mentioned before, the musicians come out for the cultural events, specifically the drummers, usually playing the Djembe, a drum from Mali which is infamously named after the Bamana phrase, “everyone gather together.” If Ujima is our instruction, are cultural and entertainment events the only things we should make time to come together for?

During Kwanzaa 2019, the UNIA-ACL did a presentation at Rochester’s Ujamaa ceremony. The title was Garveyism and Ujamaa. Marcus Garvey told us to, “build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.” Years later, we now have a day, a time we spend reflecting on a greatness that once was the question posed that day, “When do we begin practicing the principle of cooperative economics?” Not just to benefit individuals, but ” to profit from them together”; ” us “ as a uniform collective.

The principle of purpose (Nia), is relatively self-explanatory; “To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.” Simply put, coming together for the purpose of collectively building, physically coming together for the purpose of developing our community and publicly coming together to restore greatness. If we are not actively doing these things year round, we are not practicing Nia.

Kuumba’s principle is creativity. Far too long this has been misconstrued as art, music and cultural events. Digging a little deeper, this principle is defined as ,”leaving our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.” We know that our people influence the world when it comes to fashion, music etc., however when has creativity in building infrastructure been a focus of our community? Healthcare, transportation, education, maintenance and security are things we can use to creatively fix our communities. Architecture, technology and urban agriculture are tools to make things beneficial for those who inherit what we leave.

Finally, do we “believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle”? Most of us have yet to define what the goal of “our struggle” is. If eventually being accepted and treated better by the oppressor class through moral suasion is what you define as “victory” then you may very well feel we are on the right path. On the other hand, the goal of “our struggle” according to the principles of Kwanzaa and President General Marcus Garvey himself, is a redeemed Africa and a united African people worldwide.

In an effort to unify Black Buffalo, the UNIA Div #433 has proposed the naming of Marcus Garvey Way. The public resolution will be held at C.R.U.C.I.A.L. 230 Moselle St., on Saturday, January 11  at 10 a.m. at the Black Buffalo Convention.

*Lion pictured on Left

“The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity.” PG Marcus Garvey