Elikem Dodor | Correspondent
Kwanzaa has seven core principles, or Nguzo Saba. I decided to look at the fifth principle, Nia, which means purpose. According to Kwanzaa History.com, Nia is described as “to make as our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.”
In other terms, Kwanzaa defines our purpose as building and developing the community and restoring our people to a traditional greatness. Initially, this definition was very confusing. Building and developing our community could mean anything, but what exactly is traditional greatness? Is traditional greatness another hotep way of referring to Black people being “descendants of kings and queens?” The multifacetedness and diversity of Black people in America means that there is no singular “tradition.”
As a first-generation Ghanaian-American, traditional greatness means a lot of things to me. Due to the advantage of me knowing exactly where I’m from, tribe and all, I see traditional greatness through a different lens. To me, traditional greatness is more than just Kente cloth (please know that Kente is not representative of the entire continent of Africa. Rebranding it as such is just… sigh. Please do your research and stop buying the fake Kente “African print”).
While I love my Kente, traditional greatness means community. Traditional greatness is getting back to the root — getting back to the community. Throughout my experiences, I’ve discovered that in Ghana, specifically in Whuti Village, there is a large emphasis placed on community. Community is the backbone of everything, everything moves as one cohesive unit. Whether people are aware of it or not, their actions have a great impact on their community.
Similar to Blackness, purpose is a very fluid, free-flowing thing. People should be allowed to create their own definitions of purpose. Each member within the community can use their own talents and unique nature to help.
Seeing that purpose holds a different meaning for everyone, finding your purpose in college can be a very complicated thing. Some people’s purpose may be directly tied to academic success, personal success, potential job fields, hobbies — your purpose can be found in anything. I believe that it is extremely difficult to find your purpose while in college.
Throughout your college experience, you are introduced to many different things and sometimes distinguishing your purpose from your general academic career may be difficult. While you may have come into college thinking that your purpose in life was to become a doctor and give back to the general community, things may change. Your underlying purpose may just be giving back to the general community — just because your path changes, does not mean your purpose does.
Nonetheless, I further encourage you to walk in your own truth. You are more than just your grades and sometimes (most of the time) C’s get degrees. That one bad grade will not kill you, keep on pushing. Your worth is more than just what you can accomplish in these mere 4/5/6 years here on campus. Continue to explore and find out what you truly enjoy. Make sure that you are doing things solely because you enjoy them and truly want to — do not do things just to build your resume. You are more than what you do, you are a whole person. You deserve happiness and to be surrounded by the likeness. Continue to be free. Continue to be you.