Kwanzaa Day 2 – Self-Determination – Kujichagulia…

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( (At the end of this article we provide a brief explanation of the history and nature of Kwanzaa and its seven principles. Each day of Kwanzaa we will discuss one of these principles.)

On this the second day of Kwanzaa, the principle of self-determination, kuchijagulia, is celebrated. Today we affirm our determination to create, name and define our lives for ourselves, instead of allowing others to do this for us.

The mind rules the body. To the extent that the mind is conquered, the body follows. Psychological warfare is a very potent form of combat. Propaganda is information, often masked as entertainment, that attempts to elicit a specific behavior. The message of the Spike Lee film, “Do the Right Thing“, is self-determination. Its theme song, “Don’t Believe the Hype” warns us not to fall for propaganda.

Television is a potent tool of propaganda. To the extent that we ignore the images it projects into our minds, and go our own way, we practice  kuchijagulia. Our young people who stay in school, avoid drugs and alcohol, and stay away from involvement of with the police, practice self-determination in the face of determined propaganda onslaughts.

Martin Luther King, in criticizing the war in Viet Nam, even though it cost him his government support, and put his life in jeopardy, practiced kujichagulia. Muhammad Ali, in refusing to be drafted, and used as a propaganda tool for the government to use to enlist Black soldiers in the War in Viet Nam, practiced self-determination. It cost him the title, and the right to fight for four years in his prime, but Ali never flinched.

Queen N’Zinga of Angola, in the 17th century when many other African rulers traded their captives to the Portuguese, firmly refused to do so. When the Portuguese joined forces with their African allies to bring her into line, still she refused, and waged war against them all.

Accompong Nanny, was a leader of the Maroons, and is today honored as a National Hero of Jamaica. For many years, she fearlessly led her African warriors in countless battles against the British thereby winning, and ensuring, the independence of her people, up until today. All of these men and women embody the principle of Self-Determination,  Kujichagulia!


Kwanzaa was established in the late sixties by Dr. Ron Karenga to emulate the period of celebration after the harvest in African societies. He selected the week between Christmas and New Years so that we could have our own unique African celebration and not just imitate others. Each day another candle is light in the kinara, and a libation to the ancestors is poured as the family gathers around to exchange small, token gifts, and discusses how that day’s Kwanzaa principle has been manifested in their lives. Here are the seven days and the seven principles of Kwanzaa which is an abbreviation of a Swahili phrase meaning “fruits of the harvest.”
·         Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

·         Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves stand up.

·         Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.

·         Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

·         Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

·         Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

·         Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Staff Writer; Arthur Lewin

This talented author has just published a NEW book which is entitled; AFRICA is not A COUNTRY!.