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The H3O/Art of Life Blog

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Umoja is the Message

By Dr. Gloria Latimore-Peace

Presented by Omni-University

"Umoja is the message

Got to get the message

The message to my Brothers and Sisters..."

The "Seven Principles"[1] Album was composed, arranged, and performed by Kwame Steve Cobb and his wife, Chavunduka,et al. "Umoja", a Swahili word for "unity", is the first Principle of the "Nguzo Saba", the "Black Value System" conceptualized by, Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, founder of "Kwanzaa".[2]

Although these "Seven Principles" are observed in relationship to"Kwanzaa" which is celebrated by African-Americans, their adoption into our daily lives is essential for many reasons. Principles matter for the same reason that "Unity" matters. Just as there can be no community without principles, i.e., values, there can be community without unity.

This H30/ Art of Life Blog grew out of exchanges, during a Family Prayer Meeting. Our discussion became centered on what we could do to quell the epidemic of violence that continues to besiege the areas where "black-on-black" crime is the most rampant. With all respect due to Black people, I am reluctant to use the term "community" because my understanding of this concept goes beyond its superficial definition as "a group of related neighborhoods". This implies that a "community" can be constituted of people who have no more in common than that the individuals or families live in close proximity to each other. You don't have to be a Black person who resides in a majority White community to know that this is not the case.

The sociological definition, i.e, "a community is a group of people who share values", is more illuminating since it accurately depicts the nature of a community. Even so, there is an even more compelling reason for interrogating the use of "community", as it applies to Black people.

In the book by Useni Eugene Perkins, "Home Is Dirty Street: The Social Oppression of Black Children", Useni coins the term "ghettcolony". By combining the terms "ghetto" and "colony" to the area(s) where Black and poor people reside- which have variously been called "ghetto /"inner city"/slums"etc- he has told it like it is. No further distinction need be made. A quick reflection on the thirteen American colonies-- whose residents waged a war for Independence from the tyranny of external control by the British- should suffice not only as a more precise description of colony but also as an undesirable place to live. We will be much better off united because "a house divided against itself shall not stand." Matthew 12:25

We invite you to view: "Community Matters: Who Cares?", An episode of "The H30 Art of Life Show", featuring performing artists, filmmakers, culture keepers etc., etc., Masequa Meyers and Pemon Rami.


[1] The 7 Principles are: Unity, Self Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose,Creativity, and Faith

[2] The African- American celebration of Kwanzaa, December 26- January 1, was authored and introduced by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga in 1966

H30 Art of Life Song Selections

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