Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

1Jan/150

Kwanzaa 2014 / IMANI – Faith

Imani - Kwanzaa - Day 7 Jan 1

31Dec/140

Kwanzaa 2014 / KUUMBA – Creativity

Kuumba - Kwanzaa - Day 6 Dec 31

30Dec/140

Kwanzaa 2014 / NIA – Purpose

Nia - Kwanzaa - Day 5 Dec 30

29Dec/140

Kwanzaa 2014 / UJAMAA – Cooperative Economics

Ujamaa - Kwanzaa - Day 4 Dec 29

28Dec/140

Kwanzaa 2014 / UJIMA – Collective Work and Responsibility

Ujima - Kwanzaa - Day 3 Dec 28

27Dec/140

Kwanzaa 2014 / KUJICHAGULIA – Self-Determination

Kujichagulia - Kwanzaa - Day 2 Dec 27

26Dec/140

Kwanzaa 2014 / UMOJA – Unity

Umoja - Kwanzaa - Day 1 Dec 26

26Dec/140

Kwanzaa, An Overview and Discussion with Dr. Greg Carr

As today marks the first day of the annual celebration of Kwanzaa, It's especially appropriate to share the following interview and discussion with Dr. Greg Carr, Chair of Africana Studies at Howard University in Washington, DC.  He appeared on Sankofa Community Affairs show, hosted by Salim Adofo.

In this discussion, Dr. Carr highlights both the African historical context that produced Kwanzaa, as well as the cultural significance of this holiday and celebration within the larger African (-American) community.

Approximately 30 min., Sankofa Community Affairs with @SalimAdofo - Kwanzaa Episode with @AfricanaCarr

13Jan/140

Bishop Nkenge Abi: Remembering a Great Advocate for African People

Celebrating the Life of
BISHOP NKENGE ABI

bishop nkenge abi

Manager of Detroit's Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center & Bookstore
Associate Pastor, Shrine of the Black Madonna Church in Detroit
Member National Story Tellers Association,
Kwanzaa Coordinator, Renown Resource for African Culture

The Detroit community, and many others from across the country, will gather later this evening for a service in celebration of the life of Bishop Nkenge Abi. Sister Nkenge was a passionate advocate for African people, grounded in a fundamental commitment to teaching children and adults about African history and culture. If you've ever visited the Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center and Bookstore in Detroit, you likely saw and spoke with Sister Nkenge. She was extremely knowledgeable about books by and/or about African and African American history and culture, and was a longtime resource for many organizations, schools and individuals throughout the Detroit metropolitan area and across the country.

Since moving away from Detroit many years ago, I'd always make it a point to visit the Shrine during my visits back home. I'll always remember the many hours standing next to the check-out register, talking with Sister Nkenge about many different things, from my family's early years at the Shrine, to the evolving trends in African American reading interests and broader cultural consciousness. She was always very generous with her knowledge of the publishing industry, as well as her broader experience of operating a business and transmitting African culture through education and the arts.

While always extremely warm and generous, Sister Nkenge's analysis and perspective was always very sharp and clear, consistently unwavering on anything related to the health and well-being of the African American and broader African community. She always reminded us that everything is political, not in the electoral sense, but in terms of everything about our lives having a direct relationship to our cultural worldview and consciousness, and thus our individual and collective well-being.

While Bishop Nkenge Abi's presence will be missed, her spirit and influence will continue to be with us.

Just below are a few resources that shed at least a little light on Bishop Nkenege Abi's life and example.

1. An article from the Detroit Free Press, acknowledging the passing and influence of Bishop Nkenge Abi.

2. A brief excerpt from an essay on the importance of understanding history, posted by Sister Nkenge on the Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center's website. Click on the title to read the entire essay.

WHY STUDY HISTORY?

An oppressed people with little or no knowledge of their history are more likely to fall victim to the ills of the society in which they live than a people with a strong sense of history and identity. I share Dr. Woodson’s belief that history should be a road map, one we may follow on our way to some place. This map shows us where we have been, where we should go, and hopefully what roads we should avoid. History cannot simply be a feel good exercise or a celebration for those who struggled on our behalf. We must look at the lessons history teaches us and understand its use to confront the social ills in our community and for the restoration of African people to our historical greatness.

3. This brief clip is from just a few weeks ago, and features Sister Nkenge setting the context for the annual Kwanzaa celebration at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. This was the first day of the 2013 Kwanzaa celebration, December 26, 2013.

4. This is a clip of brief yet powerful remarks Sister Nkenge shared in Detroit on the politics of hair. This was also relatively recent, from September 2013.

 Nkenge Abi tells her hair story at The Secret Society Of Twisted Storytellers.
Friday, September 20, 2013 at The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

27Dec/130

Kwanzaa, Day 2 – Kujichagulia / Self-Determination: Remembering the Great Carter G. Woodson

As many of you all know, this is the second day of Kwanzaa, the cultural celebration that seeks to honor the best of what it means to be African, specifically through a ritual process of remembering and reflecting on who we have been, who we are, and who we must still become.  This is done more concretely through our reflection on The Nguzo Saba (the seven core principles), one daily from December 26th through January 1st.

The second principle is Kujichagulia, a Swahili word meaning self-determination.  Within this context, self-determination refers to the responsibility and obligation of African people throughout the diaspora to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

In recognition of Kujichagulia, I'm sharing a short biographical video tribute (approximately 10 min.) to our great ancestor, Dr. Carter G. Woodson.  Woodson's example highlights the importance of African people doing the work to tell our own story - to define ourselves - on our terms and through our own historical and cultural lens.