Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility in Nairobi

Tonight was my first Kwanzaa in Nairobi, a small black community in Silicon Valley. You might know it as East Palo Alto, but for the black folks it is Africa.

It was great the way the former Kwanzaa children were now adults with their own children. These Kwanzaa children spoke about what the principles meant to them, and how the work was more important to than the speech which might sound great but it was ineffective.

There were several great musicians playing that evening. One was my friend, Acutan, whom I hadn't seen in a long while. I knew when I saw him that I was in the right place. It was the same when I saw Sister Jeri and Brother Benjamin, both from my Nation of Islam days or shortly there after.

I also saw Malonga's daughter; Malcolm recited a lovely poem about Malonga, a man whose impact on this part of the Bay Area is relatively unknown outside the dance community.

One sister sang a lovely song about Kwanzaa to the tune of Ray Charles' Georgia. Later, there was another solo. The guest speaker, Doris Peeler-Brown, founder of a law school in Oakland. She and her husband were one of the first families to open their home to the community for Kwanzaa. I hadn't known Kwanzaa was originally in people's home, until, as Sister Makinya put it, "People abused this, and the organizers began to host the ceremonies in community centers." Mama Doris spoke about Ujima. She cited four examples of historic black men and women who'd given their lives to uplift African people. What I enjoyed most was when she told all of us to look around us and notice who was there, that we were all resources for one another.

The food as usual was great. I could eat most of it.


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