Posts Tagged Kujichagulia

Kwanzaa: My kujichagulia

Habari gani?

This week is Kwanzaa, the often-mentioned but mostly-mysterious major December holiday. I’ve always been vaguely aware that Kwanzaa is about Pan-African identity. But what it’s about more specifically and how to celebrate it? No idea.

The Official Kwanzaa Web Site gives a pretty good picture of what this week is all about. Created in 1966 by an American professor, Kwanzaa includes the celebration of seven values, or principles. You focus on one principle every day through New Year’s Day, which is a time to reflect and “answer soberly and humbly the three Kawaida questions: Who am I; am I really who I say I am; and am I all I ought to be?”

Today is the second day of Kwanzaa, and the value of the day is kujichagulia (koo-jee-chah-GOO-lee-ah), or self-determination. The Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa, says this value is about defining ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

This sounds absolutely perfect for me today. Two of my college roommates are visiting tonight. Both are very independent, intelligent women who have gone on to create adventures and experiences for themselves. One prowls the swamps and forests of the Southeast for the U.S. Forestry Service. The other spent a year in Thailand as a teacher and is probably Kenya-bound in the spring.

I admire both of them immensely, but I have a really hard time not feeling twinges of jealousy. It’s not a competitive feeling so much as remembering that I had hoped to travel or do something exciting after graduation. Instead, I took a very conservative path. I accepted a modest job at the university I graduated from, which isn’t all that far from where I grew up. Other than a brief trip to South Africa in college, I’ve never been abroad, though I have traveled a lot domestically with my family and G.

While I have no immediate plans to leave my job or anything like that, eHow suggests using kujichagulia to make some real goals for yourself, kind of like life-long New Year’s resolutions. I figure it can’t hurt to at least try to articulate what I think I want so I can start trying to make some of it happen. If nothing else, it’ll give me something to say when my roommates ask what I’m doing. I’d prefer not to say I’m doing the exact same thing I was last year!

Ok, so using eHow’s list of of strategies as a model, here goes: Read the rest of this entry »



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