Kwanzaa as Business Model for 2016 to 2017

by Leahcim Semaj (Updated December 12, 2016)

In the last 20 years, we have experienced a transformation of the world of work as profound as occurred 200 years ago with the First Industrial Revolution. Every organisation is being affected, but most people have not recognized the dramatic changes required for them to remain viable and productive.  In response to the needs of the market place, attitudes and values have also to be adjusted. We will also need to make serious adjustments in the way we do business. Every sector will have to make adjustments; government, unions, management and workers.  The only rational choice we have is to understand the nature of the changes in order for us to benefit from them. Kwanzaa allows us to bridge the gap between the past and the future at the point where the old and new years meet. We can take one more look at the principles of Kwanzaa, The Nguzo Saba, The Seven minimal principles. How can we use these principles year round to take us into the New Work Order? In the words of Damion “Jnr. Gong” Marley, It’s time for all of us to ‘Set Up Shop’.

The Ritual called KWANZAA was created by DR. MAULANA KARENGA, a scholar-activist.

KWANZAA as an African American holiday belongs to the most ancient tradition in the world, the African tradition. Drawing from and building on this rich and ancient tradition, KWANZAA makes its own unique contribution to the enrichment and expansion of African tradition by reaffirming the importance of family, community and culture.

The word KWANZAA comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanzaa” which means “first fruits.” KWANZAA is celebrated seven days; from December 26 through January 1, a period which represents the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one. This time in African culture is called “the time when the edges of the year meet,” which is a time of celebration focus and assessment.

African harvest celebrations have five basic aspects which KWANZAA also shares. They are:

1) The  ingathering of the people;

2) Special reverence for the Creator and creation, especially thanksgiving and commitment;

3) Commemoration of the past, especially paying homage to the ancestors;

4) Recommitment to our highest ethical and cultural values, especially the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles) and

5) Celebration of the Good of life, especially family, community and culture.

DR. KARENGA created KWANZAA to reaffirm African Americans’ rootedness in African culture, to reinforce the bonds between them as a people, and to introduce and reaffirm the value of the Nguzo Saba, The Seven Principles of KWANZAA. The central reason KWANZAA is celebrated for seven days is to pay homage to The Seven Principles of KWANZAA. The principles are also known as The Seven Principles of African American community development and serve as a fundamental value system.

KWANZAA is represented by seven symbols:

MAZAO (crops),                   MKEKA (mat),

KINARA (candle holder),               MISHUMAA SABA seven candles),

MUHINDI ears of corn),        ZAWADI (gifts), and

KIKOMBE CHA UMOJA (unity cup).

The candle holder has seven candles, one black, three red and three green. The colors are black for Black people, red for their struggle and green for the hope and future that come from the struggle.

Each ear of corn represents the children in the family and community. The gifts are primarily for the children, but other family members can also receive gifts.

The gifts should include a book and a heritage symbol to stress the ancient and continuing stress on the value of education and reaffirm the importance of culture and tradition.

The unity cup is used to pour libation for the ancestors and it is drunk from as a ritual to reinforce unity in the family and community.

All seven symbols are put on a MKEKA (straw mat). The KWANZAA setting piece which include the seven symbols is placed on a table or any other central location in the home.

The lighting of the candles begins on the first day of KWANZAA, December 26. The black candle is the first candle lighted. The second day of KWANZAA, the black candle is relighted as well as the first candle to the left, a red candle, December 27. Each day every candle which has been lighted is relighted along with the next candle of that day. Candles are lighted left to right alternately. The lighting practice is ordered to represent first the people (the black candle), then the struggle (the red candle), then the future and hope (the green candle) which comes from the struggle.

We believe that their is an implied business model is each of the Seven Principles of KWANZAA and so share them below.

Day 1 – December 26 – Umoja (Unity)

To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, region and people.

  • This speaks to the importance of teamwork
  • A group of interdependent people who are optimally mentally and emotionally synchronized with respect to their communication pattern so as to be able to play a variety of complementary roles.
  • They agree on a goal and accept that the best way to achieve this goal is to work together.
  • They foresee each other’s needs and make useful suggestions to each other.
  • They enhance each other’s strengths and compensate for each other’s weaknesses.
  • The result of this process is usually a synergistic level of increased efficiency and productivity.
  • Broaden your team by outsourcing and strategic partnerships

Day 2 – December 27 – Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)

To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves instead of being defined, named, created for and spoken for by others.

  • Be willing to set your own agenda.
  • Don’t accept the limitations of present government policies or be sucked in the fashion of the day.
  • Be willing to go where no one has been.
  • Be willing to take risk and be ‘disruptive’.
    • “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,  President of Liberia

Day 3 – December 28 Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)

To build and maintain our community together and make our sister’s and brother’s problems our problems and to solve them together.

  • The importance of Cross Training and Continuous education.
  • Be aware that any one entering the world of work will more than likely be changing career about six times in their lifetime.
  • We will all need to learn new skills every three to five years.

Day 4 – December 29  Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

To build and maintain business and to profit from them together.

  • Speaks to the reward system.
  • Pay for skills and results, not time spent on the job.
  • We need to investigate new ways to share both risk and rewards

Day 5 – December 30 – Nia (Purpose)

To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our country in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

  • Develop products and services consistent with a healthy social conscience
  • Who you are and what you stand for are just as important as what you sell.-(Richard Barrett, Liberating the Corporate Soul)
  • Commitment to Total Quality – Continuous Improvement, Employee Involvement, Customer Focus, Measurement
  • Total Customer Service – Service that exceeds customers expectation

Day 6 – December 31 – Kuumba (Creativity)

To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

  • Learn to think outside the box, Develop right brain competence and intuition
  • Work more with Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
  • The ability to sense, understand, and effectively effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy information, trust, creativity and influence.

Day 7 – January 1 – Imani (Faith)

To believe with all of our heart in the good that is possible in all people and the righteousness and victory of good over evil.

Remember that next year will be very challenging. Curb your desire to spend unnecessarily this holiday.

Have you identified new and multiple sources of income in 2017?

Best bet will be passive income, preferable in hard currency.

  • We Dare to create the future and do well by doing right

We All Must ‘Set Up Shop’ and Take Charge of Our Lives for 2017

I will use the week of KWANZAA, the week when the edges of the years meet, to Vision the experiences and achievements that I wish to draw into my life during the course of the year to came.

For many of us 2016 was a year of ‘Running on Empty’


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