Happy Day after Christmas, or as it's celebrated in Germany, Austria and much of Central Europe, Second Christmas. I don't know what the presents under the tree looked like at your house but again this year I have what seems to be a mountain of coal leading me to wonder about a certain jolly old elf and his sense of humor.
I'd be remiss if I did not wish you today a Happy First Day of Kwanzaa and offer a traditional greeting and inquiry, habari gani (What's the news?) with which each of the seven days of celebrations begins. In Norwich, that could well be considered a leading question and depending on whom you ask, generate an answer to the far side of pleasant and conversational. Consider yourself warned.
In many respects 2012 is departing in much the same manner as its arrival. All the challenges and opportunities it brought with it at the start are, for the most part, remaining behind like that holiday houseguest whom no one dares suggest needs to go home but everyone definitely wants want him to leave.
I knew Kwanzaa is Swahili for 'first fruits of the harvest' but what I didn't know about it would fill a book, and perhaps even a library. That so much of it hits home has as much to do with where we are physically and philosophically as well as with the universality of its ideas.
I was intrigued to learn every day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to a specific principle, especially after learning what the principles are. Today's principle is umoja or unity and energies should be expended today towards building a community that holds together. Certainly seems like something each of the forty odd thousand of us who live in Norwich could benefit from.
But, as they say on TV, "Wait! There's more!" to include kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economics), nia (a sense of purpose), kuumba (creativity) and imani (faith).
Each principle is intended to promote and precipitate actions which are complementary to each principle and include speaking for yourself and making choices that benefit the community; helping others within the community;: supporting businesses that care about the community (do you sense a pattern?) setting goals that benefit the community; making the community better and more beautiful and, finally, believing that a better world can be created for communities now and in the future.
Each principle simultaneously directs an adherent to seek answers within her and himself as well as without, from the community and the world at large. Perhaps that thinking will allow us to develop new attitudes and encourage new thinking and approaches to better, finally and fully, address that same pack of problems to which we've grown so accustomed. After all, watu wanapendelea matatizo ambayo ni ukoo kwa ufumbuzi ambao si. People prefer problems that are familiar to solutions which are not.