Wednesday, December 24, 2003


The President who called Islam a great faith is preparing to issue Kwanzaa message. But the success of Kwanzaa, the holiday that sprang full grown like (black) Athene from the head of Zeus (actually of Dr Maulana Karenga in 1966), has alarmed its own inventor and proponents:
Corporate America has caught on. For the duration of the holiday, from Dec 26 until Jan 1, stores will put on Kwanzaa displays, featuring African clothes, perhaps, and a kinara - the seven-branched candlestick at the centre of the festival.

You can buy your kinara from Avon, the catalogue giant. Hallmark sells Kwanzaa cards and wrapping paper, there are Kwanzaa cookbooks, and - from Paramount pictures - a "Rugrats" Kwanzaa cartoon.

Yet Dr Karenga - a former firebrand of the Black Power movement, now chairman of black studies at California State University - is far from happy.

Dr Karenga has denounced what he dubs "the corporate world's move to penetrate and dominate the Kwanzaa market"....

"Manipulating the language and symbols of Kwanzaa, they will seek not only to sell corporation-generated Kwanzaa items, but also to introduce a full range of corporate products as necessary for the practice of Kwanzaa," he said recently in a statement issued by the official Kwanzaa website.

Black people must build a "wall of resistance", and "refuse to co-operate with the corporate drive to dominate and redefine it and make it simply another holiday to maximise sales", Dr Karenga said.

You've got to love a holiday with an official website. I wonder if the leprechauns have one for St. Patrick's Day?

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