My African Bride Never Heard of Kwanzaa

Roundup: Media's Take

Malcolm A. Kline, writing for Accuracy in Academia (Dec. 2003):

The Kwanzaa controversy somehow bypassed me, until my African bride forced me to evaluate it. My wife can trace her ancestry directly to Shaka, who reigned over much of sub-Saharan Africa until defeated by the combination of the most powerful European armies at the turn of the last century and tribal leaders who had grown disenchanted with the Zulu king. One of these defecting tribal leaders was, in turn, one of my wife's more direct ancestors. Shaka, in turn, was related to many of these tribal leaders.

"As an African-American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions throughout the world African community," the official Kwanzaa web site tells us,"Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense."

You see, I took it for granted that it was an African holiday. When we were still engaged, I watched a Kwanzaa TV commercial in the living room of my fiancée's apartment while my bride-to-be attended to some errand or other elsewhere. As I watched the commercial, I panicked. My mind raced. After all, the official holiday web site gives us advice on gifts, Kwanzaa colors and decorations and the celebration of the holiday itself.

I wondered whether I needed to buy presents for all my future in-laws, whether we would all exchange gifts, whether I needed to send special Kwanzaa cards to every member of the family I was marrying into, whether we would have a special dinner. Would I have to learn some special Kwanzaa songs?

As I was lost in this reverie, my African-born fiancée came into the room, looked incredulously at the television set and said,"What in the hell is this Kwanzaa?"

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