My contribution to the Guardian in honor of Kwanzaa, in which we are in the midst, the seven day harvest festival, a time to recommit to action and reflection to values that work together for the good of the community.
THE AFRO-CULINARY NGUZO SABA
Nguzo Saba (the Seven Principles):
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
1. Unity: Where the boat picked us up is more important than where it dropped us off. We celebrate our culinary heritage as African people all around the globe. We support each other and celebrate our foodways from sea to sea, land to land.
2. Self-Determination: We have an obligation to organize, construct and maintain our own food systems. Culinary justice and food sovereignty are all about self-determination. We determine and protect our culinary narrative and it’s integrity.
3. Collective work and responsibility: No one person can cook, write our food history, create networks for food and culinary justice, grow community gardens or work the international scene. We work together to create a better food world for the generations to follow. We don’t depend on outsiders, we take responsibility for ourselves.
4. Cooperative Economics: We support Black chefs, cookbook authors, food writers, and Black food businesses. These are people who work with love, but love alone is not enough, we need and want support from our community to stay ALIVE.
5. Purpose: We believe in purposeful eating, purposeful growing, purposeful cooking, and purposeful buying. Everything from what we eat to the ethics surrounding our consumption – from the protection or workers to nature to the protection of our culture – these are all parts of path that need to be purposeful and direct.
6. Creativity: We Black chefs and culinarians can do more than just “soul food,” we represent the entirety of the culinary spectrum while always giving honor to our heritage and traditons. We are creatively engaged in it all. We can use food in creative ways to educate, empower, inform and innovate.
7. Faith: We have faith in our culinary traditions to give us the tools to nurture and heal our bodies and health, to serve as a vehicle to pass on our history and to serve as a witness that our Ancestors culture did not die. The food thrives and so shall we. We recognize Spirit and Soul as intangible elements in our cooking that no explanation is needed for nor any explanation possible.