The PJ Tatler

Happy...er...Merry...um...Whatever. It's Kwanza

Making up holidays is a fine American tradition. Just ask Hallmark Cards and their invention of “Secretary’s Day” and “Boss’s Day.” “Mother’s Day” began as a celebration decreed by a few states in the early 20th century and morphed into a commercial bonanza during the 1920s.

But that’s American capitalism at work. To make a “black holiday,” the inventor of Kwanza, Dr. Maulana (Swahili for “master teacher”) Karenga, AKA Ron N. Everett, had to put one over on black Americans and have them buy into the notion that a holiday invented for American blacks actually originated in Africa.

Warren Beatty, writing in the American Thinker, gives us the definitely politically incorrect history of Kwanza — an account you probably won’t find in too many other places.

Here’s a fact about Kwanzaa that liberals won’t tell you. Most Afro-Americans are descendants of people who came from west Africa, primarily Ghana. But Kwanzaa is a holiday based upon the use of the Swahili language and traditions. Swahili is spoken by people in Southeast Africa. Where Swahili is spoken is about three thousand miles from Ghana. So when making up Kwanzaa, Karenga was either ignorant of African geography and languages, or he was contemptuous of Afro-Americans, or (most probably) both.

As William J. Bennett says, “Karenga has concocted some bits of lore, lingo, and mumbo-jumbo that are intended to make Kwanzaa look like something out of Africa instead of something from Los Angeles County, but his efforts have been feeble.”

Further, the “Official Kwanzaa Website” refers to a book by Karenga published by the University of Sankore Press. There is today no University of Sankore. In fact, the ancient University of Sankore was a group of Islamic schools in Timbuktu in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. In an effort to give itself some creditability, the website says:

The University of Sankore Press takes its name from the famous University of Sankore in Timbuktu, Mali which was founded in the fourteenth century…  Our mission is to continue this legacy of commitment to African scholarship and learning by publishing scholarly yet accessible books on Continental and diasporic African life, culture and history with due attention to issues of race, ethnicity, gender and cultural diversity.  [emphasis mine]

There is a link to the “Kwanzaa Shop” where you can buy, among other things, muhindi — corn.  But corn wasn’t known at all in ancient Africa.

The website says that Kwanzaa’s “… origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name,” and that “…celebrations are recorded in African history as far back as ancient Egypt and Nubia…[.]”  Yet there is no explanation of why ancient Egyptians or Nubians celebrated harvest festivals at a time fully two months after their harvest was complete. Or why ancient Egyptians or Nubians celebrated harvest festivals on a northern hemisphere schedule. Or even why Egyptians are included.

Also on the website is the statement “… Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most widely spoken African language.” Swahili is spoken by about 7 percent of African people. Arabic is the language most spoken in Africa. As for “Pan-African,” Swahili is a Bantu language, with many words coming from Arabic, Persian, and Indian languages. Swahili was originally written in Arabic script.

Well, you get the picture.

There’s nothing wrong with making up a holiday. Columbus Day celebrates the date the explorer sighted land on his first voyage of discovery, but few thought of making it a holiday until the 20th century. While the significance of October 12 lends itself to celebration, what about Memorial Day? May 30 has no special significance beyond it being the date that General John Logan, commander in chief of the powerful Grand Army of the Republic lobby made up of Union war vets, declared that day as “Decoration Day” where the graves of soldiers were decorated with flowers.

It isn’t that Kwanza is an invention of a violent black nationalist that’s objectionable, although why this fact doesn’t raise a few eyebrows in the black community is troubling. It’s the cynicism, hypocrisy, and dishonesty surrounding its creation that make the holiday bogus.

Kwanza is celebrated from December 26-January 1.