Month 9:23, Week 4:1 (Rishon/Pesach), Year 5935:253 AM
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 18 December 2011
The Afro-American 'Christmas'
Since I am treading on a number of idolatrous toes during this winter season it didn't seem fair to omit a discussion of a relatively modern winter-god celebration gaining in popularity in the USA that is a combination of humanism, black power politics, and traditional African animism or ancestor-worship known as Kwanzaa. Its central symbol is a flattened wooden menorah or Christmas look-alike that uses three sets of candles with the pan-African colours of red, black and green.
Darrin Duber-Smith explains:
"Kwanzaa is a week long celebration held in the United States honoring universal African-American heritage and culture, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year. It features activities, such as lighting a candle holder with seven candles and culminates in a feast and gift giving. It was created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in 1966–1967. Maulana Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett on July 14, 1941) was an African-American professor of Africana Studies, scholar/activist, author and best known as the creator of the pan-African and African-American holiday of Kwanzaa. Karenga was a major figure in the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s. He created Kwanzaa in 1966 as the first specifically African American holiday. Karenga said his goal was to "give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society." The name Kwanzaa derives from a Swahili phrase meaning first fruits of the harvest. The choice of Swahili, an East African language, reflects its status as a symbol of Pan-Africanism, especially in the 1960s. Kwanzaa is a celebration that has its roots in the black nationalist movement of the 1960s, and was established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions. During the early years of Kwanzaa, Karenga said that it was meant to be an alternative to Christmas, that Jesus was psychotic, and that Christianity was a white religion that black people should shun. However, as Kwanzaa gained mainstream adherents, Karenga altered his position so that practicing Christians would not be alienated, then stating in the 1997 Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture, "Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday." Many Christian African Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa do so in addition to observing Christmas" .
The Kwanzaa Candlearbra, with traditional Scandinavian Christmas Candlearbra (insert)
As you examine this so-called 'secular' celebration it soon becomes apparent that it has all the necessary elements of a religion all its own, including the making of libations to deceased ancestors, despite claims that it is entirely secular and 'cultural' and adaptable to any religion. Unfortunately the border between 'culture' and 'religion' is not only often hazy but sometimes non-existant. But even putting the animism aside, it is still a form of self-worship and therefore incompatible with the true message of the Besorah (Gospel).
We must also, in spite of his U-turn, not forget the spirit that motivated the creation of this tradition in the first place, namely, an anti-messiah (antichrist) one. Mutating to accommodate others - in this case, black Christians, who now celebrate it too - is typical of the winter gods of paganism. It was, moreover, invented as an alternative to the Christian celebration (however pagan and corrupt itself), though smart enough to leave space for the simultaneous observance of both, beginning as it does on Boxing Day and ending on the pagan Roman Day of Janus.
I am all in favour of families studying their heritage be they Afro-Americans or anyone else but as Messianic Evangelicals we cannot possibly participate in anything that has either humanistic or pagan African religious rituals such as the tambiko during the Karamu feast on the sixth day of Kwanzaa. Any African will tell you that these libations are poured for the living dead, whose souls supposedly stay with the earth they tilled. The Ibo of Nigeria believe that to drink the last portion of a libation is to invite the wrath of the spirits and the ancestors, showing the occultic nature of these observances . One of the seven candles represents the principle of imani or 'faith', and specifically, in the black people, their parents, teachers, leaders and the 'righteousness and victory of our struggle'. Shades of communism?
Ancestor worship in any degree is antithetical to the the Besorah (Gospel) of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), and that is our principle objection to this festival, plus its deliberate insertion in the season of the winter gods. Though doubtless compatible with Catholicism and the older Protestant denominations, Kwanzaa is totally incompatible with the biblical emunah (faith) which forbids such animistic practices. Yahweh has given His moedim (appointments) and what was good enough for the black Ethiopian Court Vizier who was converted and baptised by the apostle Philip (Acts 8:26-40) is surely good enough for all those of black ancestry, many of whom have the blood of Israel flowing in their veins and are coming home to both Messiah and to their Israelite heritage (not the Black Hebrew cult, I might add).
There are no races in the Besorah (Gospel) of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) for we are all of one Adamic Race and we are all called to be a part of one Hebraic culture, not many. We are all equal in Messiah having "one Master, one emunah (faith) and one mikveh (baptism)" (Eph.4:5, NKJV). Kwanzaa is not only idolatrous but also erects further walls of partition. Afro-Americans do, of course, have the freedom to do and observe whatever they want, but those calling themselves Bible-believing Christians and Messianics do not, because we do not belong to ourselves, but to Messiah and His Derech (Way).
A Kwanzaa Home Altar
In the end, Kwanzaa is the humanistic/animistic cultural religion of its founder, Maulana Karenga (Ronald McKinley Everett), who did not disguise his contempt for the Messiah. Ours is that of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). Whom will you choose as your Saviour and Torah-teacher?