DVD Review by Kam Williams
Excellent (4 stars)
Written and directed by M.K. Asante, the movie is narrated by former U.S. Poet Laureate Maya Angelou and features contemporary interviews with Karenga, rapper Chuck D, pro football Hall of Famer Jim Brown and numerous other luminaries who weigh in on the value of Kwanzaa and its seven principles: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).
Dr. Molefi Asante, father of the director, suggests that the holiday was born more out of a cultural crisis than an identity crisis because, historically, African-American school kids have had ’two sets of notes, one for the test, one for the truth.’ Malcolm X affirms this notion, courtesy of file footage, indicating, ’You can't help hating Africa and not help yourself.’ Similar sentiments are expressed by the late novelist James Baldwin when he wistfully acknowledges that, ’There are days when you wonder what your role is in this country and what your future is in it.’
For this reason, Dr. Scot Brown concludes that Kwanzaa as important because it ’insists on celebrating our Africaness,’ while Ms. Angelou tells future generations, ’You owe no racial debt to history.’ A most informative DVD aimed at anyone interested in exploring the roots of Kwanzaa or explaining its meaning to young children.
Nguzo Saba: The Seven Principals of Kwanzaa
A Kwanzaa Keepsake
Melanet's Kwanzaa Information
The Official Kwanzaa Web Site
Kwanzaa! African Lives in a new world festival