Kwanzaa and Capoeira

Palanka Roumer

It has been sometime since my last post. Life has a tendency to get in the way of our best laid plans. But, that’s just an excuse. I didn’t feel like writing. Why? I can’t tell you. It could be fear or a lack of motivation. Regardless of what the reason may be, I didn’t post anything. End result is the same. That being said, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of my thoughts today.

I work at Starbucks. That means during Christmas I told people ‘Merry Christmas’, even if i don’t observe, follow, or put up with that shit of an idea of a holiday. Jesus wasn’t born in the during the winter. The original name of the holiday was Saturnalia. There is a myriad of other reasons, not gonna get into it. Well, I’ll mention Black Pete.

Anyway, it was my first year observing Kwanzaa. It was interesting and enlightening. Luckily, I had someone well versed in kwanzaa to guide myself and the other first-timers in our little group. An elder. We came together and focused on what it means to be African and what it means to be a part of the African Diaspora. My woman was in town and was a part of it as well. Probably one of the best holiday seasons of my life. Because it was on my terms.

Kwanzaa is an interesting idea. It isn’t a religious holiday. What it is is a set of days of introspection and analysis of of where we are going as Africans. Kwanzaa came out of a need to return to the cultural systems that the first people developed. The spiritual and philosophical systems that set the stage for all of humanity. Kwanzaa is broad in it’s application, allowing for the many different variations of Africans children and grandchildren to use it in their lives.  The principles for each day guide the introspection and conversation to areas of African life that need attention and hard work. This is definitely going to be an ongoing thing for me and mine.

I started going back to Capoeira Sol e Lua at the end of December. I have been going to almost every class for January and will be going to as many classes as I can. There is much training and much learning to be done if I want to be prepared for the batizado in April. Capoeira is an interesting thing in my life. I don’t recall something I have wanted and needed so bad and that I have worked so hard and diligently for. It is constantly on my mind and it fits in with everything that I am maneuvering into my life. The physicality of capoeira is but one facet of it. It is an Underground Spiritual Game, as the late and great Fela Anikulapo-Kuti would say. I have never felt such vibrant energy as when I participate in a roda. Everyone’s life force becomes a part of the game, feeding it, stoking the fire. I’ve been reading books on capoeira. I read The Little Capoeira Book by Nestor Capoeira as well as Capoeira: Roots of the Dance-Fight-Game also by Nestor Capoeira. I have also been using Capoeira Conditioning by Gerard Taylor for conditioning of my body outside of the academy. The history and culture of capoeira is extremely rich and particularly interesting to me as I’ve noticed such a close parallel between Brazilian history and culture and Haitian history and culture.

So, this is what I have for those of you who have been waiting impatiently for me to write again. I’ve got more coming. More thoughts from a mind in the midst of re-education.

About Palanka Roumer

I was born in Boston and raised in both Miami and Petionville/Port-au-Prince, Ayiti.

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