Kwanzaa: It’s All in the Livin’

By S. Christopher Emerson

Nguzo Saba (pronounced ‘n-GOO-zoh SAH-bah), literally translated as “Seven ‘Pillars,'” but meaning “Seven Principles”

We just spent the last week in December celebrating the Nguzo Saba, the Black value system celebrated during Kwanzaa. This is not some anciently-codified system of ethics that was simply snatched for some nondescript African people in some undisclosed east African locale that detractors try to convince you is totally outside of our “solely” West African lineage and experience. This is a system of values created from ethics gleaned from Black cultural traditions and worldviews from all over the world that were interpreted into Kiswahili and focused into and for this Black value system. The Nguzo Saba are literally history and tradition brought forward to be applied reasonably to our varied current environments and conditions. Built, not stolen. Guidelines, not laws. Reasonable, not inflexibly traditional.

Kwanzaa is the time to CELEBRATE these principles, and by extension, our beautiful Black selves. And our lives move forward on January 2nd, and we live the Nguzo Saba all year. It’s all in the livin’.

The whole entire idea is that we live, practice and promote these seven values of Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith all year long.  This is so that at the end of this calendar year, when Kwanzaa rolls around and even more people are aware and celebrating as they were last year, we can recall even more grandiose and tangible examples of the Nguzo Saba that we’ve brought forth into our living to help raise up communities and advance Black people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *