Most Africans only discover Kwanzaa- The African Christmas when they come to the US. Now think about it: if it is something that the slaves brought to the Americas, then it means they transplanted it or transported it from Africa. Why don’t those who lived and still live there know about it if it was transported from Africa ? Let’s say they did not have the opportunity to continue the feast during slavery and colonization, what about after independence?
The synagogues of the Jews were begun to replace the absence of temples in captivity but immediately when they came back from captivity, they built back the temples and continued their worship. If Kwanzaa was a feast that was a culture in the people, it should not be the slaves to preserve it. Those on the run never preserve a culture; those on the spot do. If those on the spot never preserved it, then it did not exist.
Notwithstanding, there are two main cultural aspects that the Black American has preserved from the African culture. The first is the sharing of power between the male and the female. The African society gave a woman the right to lead in a public arena as much as men. Examples are the Rain Queens like Modjadji V of South Africa who were leading their villages in the 1800s long before the Westerners were brainwashed that African men are domineering. The continent of North America has never had a female president, but Africa has had more than 8. Therefore, the Americans should not even talk about women not being free in Africa; they are not free in the whole continent of North America. That means; if a man is domineering, it is not because of where he comes from but what is in his heart. People should be judged by the content of their character and not by their place of origins.
The second is the jiving culture. Many people think the jiving of the Black American began during slavery. No, it did not! How could it begin in the days of slavery when before they reached the slave depots, the future slaves were always singing? If they were singing before being introduced into slavery, then they had it in their blood before they left. The 4th stanza of Langston Hughes' poem "Negro" endorses my assertion as can be seen below:
I’ve been a singer:
All the way from Africa to Georgia
I carried my sorrow songs.
I made ragtime.
Our mothers always hoed with a song. An African mother carrying a child on her back pounded her cocoyams with a song. Mourners mourned during funerals with a song. Everything was done with a song. Even the town crier dispersing the edict of the chief or king dispensed his message with a song. The woman nursing her baby always had a lullaby on her lips. From the farm, though with a load on her head, the African woman sang until she reached home. The boys raring cattle sat on the hill top and watched their wealth with songs in their mouths. Every village gathering was engineered with songs without which there was no ceremony. The men whistled and played various instruments with their mouths as they weeded with their legs their way home from a hunting exercise. The only thing I knew was done without a song was the dance of the forest simply because of the taboo status attached to it. Therefore, the jiving in American churches should instead help to portray their roots and not their presence.
Songs and dance contests were always held before the advent of slavery to express internal gaiety and the pride of belonging. Every song related and relates to their experience as an expression of joy of life in their inner being as though saying: “though we are enslaved on every side, yet we are free.We are dehumanized but still alive; exploited but not deprived; knocked down but not knocked out”. Their daily struggles alone made life miserable. Jiving diluted and alleviated their burdens and gave them hope to keep going. It expresses their determination to accomplish their task. The music had its weight in its sad tone that pierced the heart of the listener like that of the “Solitary Reaper”.
Therefore, for record purposes, Kwanzaa has never been, and it is still not an African Christmas. Those who are celebrating it should do so on their own account knowing fully well it has an unauthentic origin. Africans never had anything about Christmas. Christmas celebration came to Africa with the second advent of Christianity. However, if people say we Africans especially Black Americans want to make an equivalent celebration to Christmas, it is a different story, but not that Africans have their own Christmas called Kwanzaa. That is spurious!
Until then, people are free to celebrate what they like.
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk