Chairman’s Annual Message
'A Lesson in Reciprocity"
Ahmed Sekou Toure, Metro Atlanta Kwanzaa Association
Ayi Kwei Armah’s warns us in Two Thousand Seasons about practicing reciprocity in nontraditional environments.
“Spring water flowing to the desert, where you flow there is no regeneration. The desert takes. The desert knows no giving. To the giving water of your flowing it is not in the nature of the desert to return anything but destruction. Spring water flowing to the desert, your future is extinction.” And it is from this critical analysis that Kwanzaa, based on the agricultural celebrations of Africa called “the first-fruits” is conceived and practiced.
In historical first-fruits celebrations, there was a collective emphasis on renewal and reinforcement of social relationships through a commitment on spiritual and ethical values. This produces a kind of spiritual healing of the people, a casting off the old slave mentality and a commitment to African cultural values that ground and guide us daily, forgiving and forgetting past petty offenses and projecting and stressing the highest values of the community, i.e. love, Brotherhood, sisterhood, truth, justice, harmony, and reciprocity. Our view of reciprocity, is a constant stress on practice in African spirituality and ethics to build quality human relations to address the critical issues facing our community.
This insight reminds us that reciprocity is not conditional giving. In our African tradition, it is not scratching another’s back in anticipation of a swift return…nor is it exchanging favors as an in-kind gesture. African Reciprocity has always been a way of living fully, thinking righteously, and behaving in harmony with nature and the community. The Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa): Umoja ( unity); Kujichagulia (self-determination); Ujima (collective work and responsibility); Ujamaa (cooperative economics); Nia (purpose); Kuumba (creativity); and Imani (faith) stress the African communitarian character. Thus in defining oneself from an African communitarian point of view, one does not say as Descartes. “I think, therefore I am.” On the contrary, one says as Mbiti notes “ I am because we are and since we are therefore I am.”
The Metro-Atlanta Kwanzaa has published the Kwanzaa Resource Guide to: