“When a people lose the knowledge of who they are, that is, their culture, they
lose the very foundation upon which their individual existence and their society
is based. To combat this loss, each African person must be equipped with a
‘Grand Vision of the Future,’ a vision extending beyond personal interests such
that this vision becomes the embodiment of the vital interest and moral
centerhood of the entire African World Community. I refer to this vision as The
African Principle. The African Principle places the moral, economic, political,
and spiritual centerhood of African people on the African continent, the land of
our ancestors. It is the ideological, spiritual, and moral direction of African
people; it is the underlying source that makes us an African people. It is that
which makes us who we are and what we are. It is the voice of our ancestors,
and it is the essence of our existence. Moreover, the African Principle is the
underlying source of the African Value System, the gift from our Creator passed
on to us through our ancestors. It represents those standards, rules, laws, and
customs that should guide our behavior and serve as the foundation and
motivation for all of our actions. It is the quality underlying the source of
our existence. Some, if not most of our African leaders, have compromised the
African Principle in order to achieve personal success and security at the
expense of the African masses. In essence, the African Principle requires that
African organizations and leaders of these organizations act in the greatest
interests of the greatest number of African people. As such, the African
Principle is the standard against which we must measure the actions of our
leaders and the organizations that claim to represent the interests of the
masses of African people.”
The cultural creativity of Afrakan people is ever redemptive. Afrakans in America continue in the ways of their continental ancestors in conceiving ongoing methods of institutionalizing our unique heritage. This is the time of the holiday tradition of Umoja Karamu. This celebration was initiated in 1971 by Brother Edward Simms, Jr. of Philadelphia, Pa. Umoja Karamu is a Swahili term that translates as “unity feast.” As practiced in The Temple of the Black Messiah, Umoja Karamu is held on the fourth Sunday in November.
Its purpose is to instill a sense of unity and appreciation of Afrakan heritage into Afrakan families. This is done through prayers to the traditional deities of Afraka, libations to honor our Afrakan ancestors, historical Afrakan centered readings and Afrakan centered films all of which culminates in a healthy, nutritious feast. In his own words Brother Edward Simms, Jr. states “[Umoja Karamu] injects new meaning and solidarity into the Black Family through ceremony and symbol. It is unique in that it bridges the gap between diverse religious persuasions through a ritual which is easily understood and appreciated by all the participants. Moreover, it draws on the collective Black experience with which most Black Folks are familiar.”
The Umoja Karamu celebration is based on five major epochs in the lives of Afrakans in America and each represented by a distinct color. The feast should include foods representing the color of each epoch.The prayers, libations, historical readings and films should also center around these events:
1st Epoch – Afrakans prior to the invasions and influence of Europeans and Arabs. The color Black, is used to delineate the unity of the Afrakan people.
2nd Epoch – Captivity of Afrakans during which the Maafa occurs. The color white symbolizes the adversary and their role in the attempted destruction of Afrakan culture.
3rd Epoch – Self Emancipation. The fight against forced labor and captivity in the United States of America through revolts, Civil Rights and the Black Power movements. The color red is used to represent those who lived and died in service of freeing captive Afrakans.
4th Epoch – National Liberation. The fight for decolonization of Afrakan countries the formation of the Organization for Afrakan Unity and the diasporac Afrakan liberation movements. The chosen color is green, symbolic of land and all that comes from it.
5th Epoch – The Future of Afraka and Afrakans. The Afrakan Union, The African Socialist International, The Sankofa Movement. Afrakan centered perspectives for the future. The color gold is chosen for the future is a most valuable asset.
Kwanzaa, Umoja Karamu, Odunde. Afrakans in America – earnestly engaged in the reclamation of their culture and its institutionalization.
Article by Pya Kule