At The Kwanzaa Expo(St. Louis – 2011)

I am often divided in my thoughts on whether an event is fated, or scheduled by some organic “spiritual” factor, or just a happening of random occurence. Being a person that likes to believe awfully high of his purpose, I tend to hope the random occurences will one day result in a systematic and fully functioning reality. That being written, I was a bit hesistant to go to the Kwanzaa Expo that my cousin was invited to. Not so much as a disdain for Kwanzaa, but more out of desire to work on one of the many projects that have been neglected. Thankfully, my better socialable side convinced the more antisocial self to get off it’s arse and be counted.


The capacity of the invite was not just for my cousin to walk around and be talkative, although she would find her Self doing that. Our comrade, Makeda, was selling olive oil, sea salt chips, incense, body oils, and performing with her husband, King Omowali(Yes, I have no shame in name dropping all the St. Louis personalities I encounter in my travels). So, my cousin and I were there assisting with sales and set up. I am always warmed by Makeda’s reception of my brand of “consciousness” and her passionate reminders that Green DJHTY needs to be in hands and not just on screens.


The Kwanzaa Expo was convened by The Better Family Life organization at the Cardinal Ritter Prepatory. There were various booths of vendors selling their wares scattered throughout the large venue. I was duly impressed by a large set of panels displaying Kimit’s greater dynasties that took up the expanse of the entire left wall of the gym where most of the vendors posted their booths. The items being offered ranged from traditional Afrikan garments to jewelry. The Nation of Islam, represented by the brothers from Mosque #28, even gave away a small booklet written by Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard entitled,”Stop The Killing.” Upon seeing so many selling books, I was struck with the disappointment in my Self that I didn’t have my own books out.


And it was primarily that sort of vibe: I felt like I was supposed to be their exchanging my works. There was entertainment and an area set up for children, but the idea was this was the marketplace for Blacks. And I personally could appreciate that. Most of us with talents, drive, and ability tend to lack a market to sell products that are authentically Black. The interwebs work, but we often need a ground base to get our Selves established among the community, or to build a financial base to launch from.


Of course the expo was not just about selling products of the people. Amiri Baraka gave a particularly educational lecture focusing on not just the principles of Kwanzaa, the nguzo saba, but also the history and reason for the choices of the principles. He cited the spirit of violence and the warlike conditions with which the celebration was created out of to remind the audience that it wasn’t about replacing the christian celebration celebrated around the same time as Kwanzaa. He alsi explained that the use of Kiswahilli, that some argue is an Arab slave language, was due to not only its ubiquity in Afrika, but also the language not belonging to one tribe in particular and thus readily adoptable by Blacks within the diaspora, US specifically.


His personal attachment to the times with which the recognition of Nguzo Saba was discussed as he began to deliberate on the principles them Selves. He spoke of arguments with Ron Karenga about jazz being an aggressive medium. Amiri also made several reference to Barack Obama, and the republican former candidate, Herman Cain. Much of that was tongue and cheek, but a serious reminder that although Obama might be a great guy, he was a political puppet, but better than the selection of potential presidents presented by the GOP. He would end his discussion by asking that all in the audience offer some sort of activism to the Black community even if was as small an effort of recording one’s life to be passed as a reference for upcoming generations of Blacks.


After I heard the brother Amiri’s lessons, I went back to my post and watched Makeda and King Omowali playing. They have a very energetic reggae spot with King often expressing much of his enjoyment of his guitar during the songs. I can deeply appreciate his fondness for the Jimi Hendrix inspired licks and the passion he brings to the performance.


As stated, I’m never sure if the events of existence are purposeful or random. I don’t always know if it matters, however, but I am glad I decided to join my cousin for this particular event. Got a little money, always a plus, and walked away with veteran intellectual’s take on Kwanzaa and the Black community. Whether purposeful or random, I definitely won.