Kwanzaa - Why?

I have been finding it hard to get into blogging – nothing has moved me to write on this blog lately. All kinds of things have sort of passed me by, MPs expenses, the on going debate in the US about healthcare reform and all I could find to move me was this article

I find the practice, rather than the principle, of Kwanzaa slightly ludicrous.  I turn my nose up at Kwanzaa for various reasons.  Firstly it’s holiday created for a mainly African American audience, so why does it use Swahili words to describe itself and the things associated with it?  How many African Americans can trace their roots back to East Africa, let alone speak Swahili?  Apparently the use of Swahili is a nod to it is Pan Africanism.  Huh?  Am I missing something here?  Swahili is spoken in at most five out of fifty five African countries, each speaking a slightly different version of it.  If the creator of Kwanzaa really wanted to use a Pan African language they should have chosen English or French, which are spoken (officially) in more countries and could arguably be considered more unifying. How about Yoruba? It is after all the native tongue of at least 3 times as many people as Swahili.

I would also love to find out the percentage of African Americans that can name, let alone have visited, any of the countries in which Swahili is spoken.  I somehow doubt it is as high a number as those who celebrate Kwanzaa (currently estimated at 40 million and growing).  And what is with the arbitrary addition of the final letter a to the name? I find it interesting that, allegedly, a proportion of the very people who are using the official language of Kenya to celebrate their holiday were against Barack Obama being referred to as African American during his 2008 campaign because he was not one of them.

I have always been puzzled by the animosity with which a lot African Americans greet things they consider African (it is only comparable to the reaction of Black Britons of Afro-Caribbean descent). They look down upon us from their hallowed status as Westerners.

I have always poopooed Kwanzaa as a made up Black American holiday and though atheists would argue the same about Christmas or Easter at least, via their commercialisation, they have become inclusive.  How inclusive is a holiday that sells itself as a black holiday?  If the KKK or the BNP came up with a holiday to celebrate Whiteness or Britishness, there would most likely be uproar. Yet the limp wristed liberal readers of the Independent think it is on to promote an openly racist tradition because it is of African American origin. This is a holiday that was started by a man that, allegedly, thought it was ok to torture members of his own organisation and has no basis in African culture. Why are people so ready to support it?  The mind boggles.

The fact that this is considered an African American holiday – soon to be embraced by Black Britons, apparently - as well as the ignorance portrayed in the subjective embracing of African culture whilst rejecting Africans themselves as “other” is not only hypocritical, it negates the central principle of the holiday, which is apparently unity.

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