January 1, 2017

Kwanzaa: Imani ('Faith')


Habari Gani? Imani (ee-MAH-nee)!
Day 7. January 1

To believe with all our hearts in our parents, our teachers, our leaders, our people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

When life seems to bring nothing but a string of defeats and disappointments, we've got to have faith that something good is still in store for us. With this faith, we can forge ahead and continue to put forth our best effort. Without it, we give up and accept what comes our way, good or bad. Our precious dreams begin to seem absurdities.

It is imperative that we see ourselves as worth and deserving of a good life. There may be rejections; it may take us a while; but as long as we stay in the game, there's every chance we'll score. On the sidelines, we can only watch as others do the work and the winning.

Perhaps it is time for us to celebrate this seventh principle of the Nguzo Saba principle, 'Imani'! Perhaps it is time ... as we enter for a new year ... to step out on faith.

On this day, I will spend five minutes to relax and visualize success in achieving one of my goals.

Those are my thoughts about Imani. Please take a moment to join this online Kwanzaa celebration with me. What do you think when Imani comes to mind?

Harambee!
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December 31, 2016

Kwanzaa: Kuumba ('Creativity')


Habari Gani? Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah)!
Day 6.  December 31

Using creativity and imagination to make your communities better than what you inherited.

I don't consider myself to be 'creative' in the normal sense.  I haven't written many poems in my life.  I don't create original artwork of any kind.  I don't create my own songs.   I imagine that I'm not unlike many of you.  I suspect that many of you join me in feeling confined in the roles we play, expected to conform to the expectations of others.

However, God gave each of us 'wings' on which to fly our personal journey.  Caged, we can do little more than flutter those heavenly wings in frustration.  We must sing to give vent to our misery, to express ourselves and to create beauty in our own world.

We all need to find outlets for our stifled selves.  In the act of creating, we enter an almost meditative state where our troubles cease to exist and our spirit heals and fortifies.

Painting, playing an instrument, or writing a poem my readily occur to us as means of creative expression, but so are blogging, gardening, cooking, or quilting -- whatever appeals to our individual natures.

Perhaps it is time for us to celebrate this sixth principle of the Nguzo Saba principle, 'Kuumba'! Perhaps it is time ... as we prepare for a new year ... to allow our creative natures to breathe a little more.  Perhaps it is time for each of us to allow the caged bird inside of ourselves to sing ... to fly.

On this day, I will do something artfully.  I will write a letter, make a pencil sketch, or just rearrange one of my rooms in a different way.

Those are my thoughts about Kuumba. Please take a moment to join this online Kwanzaa celebration with me. What do you think when Kuumba comes to mind?

Harambee!

December 30, 2016

Kwanzaa: Nia ('Purpose')

Habari Gani? Nia!
Day 5, December 30

To make as our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Can any hill stand between you and your beloved? No. Especially if it is your purpose or goal to be with that person. Of course, there are hills in life. Heck, sometimes there are mountains. But when life is good, it seems like there are no hills. Why? Because, like a baby driven to walk, we are undeterred by the obstacles between us and our goal.

African Americans have certainly had our share of disappointments and setbacks. But, we have learned that when we are really focused, nothing can hold us back. When we believe that our goal is worth and that we are worthy to achieve it, we are more than halfway there. We need only plant our feet on the road and keep moving forward.

Perhaps it is time for us to celebrate this fifth principle of the Nguzo Saba principle, 'Nia'! Perhaps it is time ... as we prepare for a new year ... to set written goals for all of the areas of our life: family, financial, health and spiritual. If not now, when? We can always do more to set and seek out specific goals in life, because we all benefit when our brothers and sisters succeed.

On this day, I will do at least one thing that will help me accomplish one of my goals.

Those are my thoughts about Nia. Please take a moment to join this online Kwanzaa celebration with me. What do you think when Nia comes to mind?

Harambee!

December 29, 2016

Kwanzaa: Ujamaa ('Cooperative Economics')

Habari Gani? Ujamaa!

To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them.

Cooperative economics can help African Americans take physical control of their own destinies. Did you know that 95% of all earnings in the Black community ends up in the hands of non-Black people? Is it any wonder that when one community has $1.95 and our community has a nickel ... that one community is more respected by local government; has better police relations; has better schools; has better economic outcomes? Perhaps it is time for us to celebrate this fourth principle of the Nguzo Saba principle, 'Ujamaa'!

We can always do more to support our people, because we all benefit when our brothers and sisters succeed. If it means going a block farther to a Black-owned store, let's do it. And if the quality of the merchandise or service disappoints us, let's communicate that to the owner so we give her every chance to rectify the situation and count on us as a permanent customer.

Let's buy books and albums by African Americans, and go to movies by African American directors. Remember the simple saying, "Put your money where your mouth is." Let's show support, and not decry the lack of it.

Those are my thoughts about Ujamaa. Please take a moment to join this online Kwanzaa celebration with me. What do you think when Ujamaa comes to mind?

Harambee!

December 28, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Wayne Hicks. Senior and Junior.

Kwanzaa: Ujima ('Collective Work and Responsibility')


Habari Gani? Ujima!
Day 3, December 28

To come together to build and maintain our communities.

None of us walks alone. Especially in the Black community. We need to realize that we stand on the shoulders of others. Celebrating the Nguzo Saba principle, 'Ujima', gives us a chance to reflect on those that helped us reach our current platform. We can pay homage to our parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, mentors, colleagues or others that came into our lives. Nubians in America should also lift up in praise those African Americans that came ... some were lost ... so that we might have the freedoms we enjoy today.

In other words villagers ... let's be proud of our accomplishments. We earned the right to be proud. However, let's also remember that our accomplishments may never have happened without the help of others struggling before us. Now, we must pay it forward. We must reach back, down or across to others to help them on their journey.

Those are my thoughts about Ujima. Please take a moment to join this online Kwanzaa celebration with me. What do you think when the Ujima comes to mind?

Harambee!

December 27, 2016

Kwanzaa: Kujichagulia ('Self-Determination')


Habari Gani? Kujichagulia!
Day 2.  December 27

To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

The second principle in the Nguzo Saba calls for us to spend less time worried about what 'THEY' are thinking and more time focused on our own decisions. We can't waste our time trying to live up to the expectations of others. We must value the importance of our own personal goals. How are we living up to our own inner compass of what is right and wrong ... our own values ... our own dreams.

I plan to spend more in 2016 focused on setting and exceeding my own financial, family, physical and spiritual goals. I intend for 2016 to be a year in which I live my dreams. No more sitting back and waiting for others ... it is time for me to take control of my situation fully and completely.


Today, I take the first step.

Harambee!
 
I hope that other villagers are considering what the concept of 'kujichagulia' or self-determination means to them.

Here is an affirmation for today that we can all use -- 'On this day, I will take five minutes and visualize that I have accomplished one of my goals.'

December 26, 2016

Kwanzaa: Umoja ('Unity')


Habari Gani? UMOJA
Day 1.  December 26.

To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

You live long enough and you begin to realize that you cannot have an impact on your community, nation and race until you first have an impact on your family. It is through the good you do with your parents, siblings, spouse, children, nieces, nephews and cousins that you leave your mark on the world. The pebble that you drop in the lake called family will begin to flow out in concentric circles that will grow larger and larger over time.

Make yourself and your family stronger ... you make our community and our nation stronger. Am I doing enough to make ourselves stronger mentally, physically, financially and spiritually?

The past is gone. Our ability to changes things for the better begins today. What can I do to make myself better mentally? physically? financially? spiritually? These are questions that I will ask myself today as I meditate on the meaning of 'umoja' in my life. I will find ways each day to improve myself and my family ... even my blogging family ... so that we might be stronger as a community and as a nation. Each one, reach one.

Harambee!

Care to share your thoughts on the concept of Umoja, the first principle shared in the Nguzo Saba?

Rest In Peace: Teena Marie (1956-2010)

The Internet and Twitter informed us that legendary soul singer Teena Marie was dead on this date in 2010 at the age of 54.

Teena Marie was a remarkable singer who amazed me when I was in college. I listened and loved her songs like 'Deja Vu' ... however, I didn't realize until much later that she was white. Her voice was such a soulful one ... and her remarkable duets like 'Fire and Desire' with Rick James were a staple at how of the house parties in basements and in the clubs.

I don't recall the song ... it was probably 'Square Biz' ... but, I remember seeing her on a video singing a song that I liked ... and she had on these HORRIBLE bell-bottoms. It took me awhile to digest her look versus what I had imagined from listening to her on the radio or from her albums (which never had her picture on them back in the day).

However, at the end of the day -- her soulful talent could not be denied.   She remains one of my favorite singers.   One of the songs that displayed her full-range of talents was a ditty called 'Casanova Brown'.



Born Marie Christine Brockert, Teena Marie released 13 studio albums, six of which went platinum on the Rhythm & Blues chart. Two of her albums went platinum, and six altogether were gold.


Teena Marie could straight-out sing...



What are your thoughts or remembrances of Teena Marie?

Nguzo Saba: The Seven Principles


Villagers, I created this blog in order to inform and uplift people of African descent. Too often we are bombarded with negative images of what it means to be Black in America and throughout the diaspora. My hope is that the Electronic Village provides an outlet for us to share some self-love, self-respect and self-determination. I am hopeful that you will become engaged through your village voice to share your thoughts on the posts that we provide each day.



While the Nguzo Saba are commonly linked to the yearly Kwanzaa celebration, they have year-round applicability. I'm sharing these seven principles in the hopes that we can refer to them often over the coming weeks and months.
  1. UMOJA (00-MOE-JAH) UNITY - The first principle is a commitment to the idea of togetherness. This principle is a foundation; for without unity, neither the family nor the community can survive. National African American unity begins with the family. Open discussions of family problems and their probable solutions are very important.
  2. KUJICHAGULIA (CO-GEE-CHA-GOO-LEE-AH) SELF-DETERMINATION - The second principle is a commitment to building our lives in our own images and interests. If we, as a people, are to achieve our goals we must take the responsibility for that achievement upon ourselves, for self-determination is the essence of freedom. This day calls for a reaffirmation of our commitment to struggle for all people of African descent, particularly those of us here in America, to build a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
  3. UJIMA (00-GEE-MA) COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY - The third principle encourages self-criticism and personal evaluation, as it relates to the common good of the family/community. Without collective work and struggle, progress is impossible. The family and the community must accept the reality that we are collectively responsible for our failures, as well as our victories and achievements. Discussions concerning each family member's responsibility prove helpful in defining and achieving family goals.
  4. UJAMAA (00-JAH-MAH) COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS - Out of the fundamental concepts of "African Communal Living" comes the fourth principle of Kwanzaa. In a community or family, wealth and resources should be shared. On the national level, cooperative economics can help African Americans take physical control of their own destinies. On this day, ideas should be shared and discussed for cooperative economic efforts to provide for needs as related to housing, education, food, day care, health, transportation and other goods and services.
  5. NIA (NEE-AH) PURPOSE - The fifth day of Kwanzaa is a day for reviewing our purpose for living. Each family member should examine his/her ability to put his/her skill or talent to use In the service of the family and community at large. Take time to reflect on your expectations from life: discuss your desires and hopes with family and friends. On this day you should try to determine if this purpose will eventually result in positive achievements for family and community.
  6. KUUMBA (KOO-M-BAH) CREATIVITY - The sixth principle of the Nguzo Saba relates to building and developing our creative potential. It involves both aesthetic and material creations. It is essential that creativity be encouraged in all aspects of African American culture. It is through new ideas that we achieve higher levels of living and a greater appreciation for life. Each family member should find creative things to do throughout the year that will enhance the family as a whole. On this day, poetry reading, songfests, dance exhibitions and the like, can aid in promoting the importance of Kuumba.
  7. IMANI (E-MAH-NE) FAITH - The seventh principle is belief in ourselves as individuals and as a people. Further, it is a commitment to the development of the family and the national African American community. African America's goal of freedom rests significantly on our belief in our own ability and right to control our own destiny. Without Imani (faith), there is no possibility of victory.
Villagers, we will discuss each of these seven principles throughout the coming year. Perhaps you can begin the discussion by sharing your village voice on the Nguzo Saba. What say u? Which principle(s) are particularly meaningful in your life?