The word Kawaida (kah-wah-ee’-dah) means “tradition” in Kiswahili, but the term has come to mean a synthesis of tradition and reason informed by and developed in practice. Kawaida is a communitarian African philosophy of cultural and social change that emerged in the context of the Black freedom movement and has played a significant role in Black intellectual and political culture since the 1960s.

Definition and History

Kawaida was created and developed by the activist-scholar Maulana Karenga to address critical issues of the 1960s concerning the life, culture, and struggles of African people, especially those in the United States. Having come into being in the context of the Black liberation movement, Kawaida embraces and engages the movement’s central themes of freedom and justice, revolution, ...

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