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Stic of Dead Prez On How to Expand Kwanzaa Celebration from a Week to a Year

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Khnum “Stic” Ibomu and his family create vision boards on the fifth day of Kwanza.(Paras Griffin/BET/Getty Images for BET)

As the second day of Kwanzaa goes on, the principle of Kujichaguli, or self-determination, is acknowledged. Today, celebrators are reminded that it is up to pan-Africans to define and uplift ourselves rather than letting others do that for us. Thankfully, Dead Prez’s own Khnum “Stic” Ibom is letting folks in on just how to do that.

Stic has transformed his eating and fitness habits from that of a typical rap star to adopt a “healthy gangsta lifestyle.” And that attitude extends to Kwanzaa. At the beginning of the holiday each year, which lasts from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, he and his family participate in cultural practices which ground them in how they hope next year will go. In doing so, the family lives up to Kujichaguli.

“It’s kinda like a planting season for us,” he told Atlanta Black Star. “Kwanzaa is about the first fruits and the harvest of these seeds, these seven principles. In ancient Africa during the winter solstice, [it] was the time where you sowed spiritual seeds, these principles are spiritual seeds, but it’s about timing.

“You can’t grow collard greens in the middle of the summer but they grow well right now, in the cold. But you have to plant them at a certain time for that to happen. We [understand] this law in agriculture, we know everything has to have timing and conditions. That whole time of Christmas and Kwanzaa, this is the time to sow your spiritual seeds for the coming year.”

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The spiritual seeds — or seven principles — including Umoja (unity), Ujamaa (supporting each other), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Nila (purpose), which is a day that Stic’s family creates vision boards, Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith), in addition to Kujichaguli — are celebrated for a week. But Stic wants people to embrace them throughout the year.

“Look at it as a guide, a starting point,” he said. “But the real essence is to live by the principles. Come together as a family and say, ‘What are the principles we value?’ and come up with ways to put them into practice throughout your life. It’s not about the idea of an empty ritual but it’s a stepping stone to living a more purposeful life. We added [an] eighth principle to ours — we added health.”

Stic, who has been so committed to a healthy lifestyle that he created RBG FIT CLUB and wrote the book, “Eat Plants, Lift Iron” about it, uses fitness as the perfect analogy about taking Kwanzaa into the new year.

“If we only live those principles for seven days, it’s cool, it’s like we work out for seven days,” he said. “It’s like you did seven push-ups but when you do seven years of push-ups you see different results. Now we have something a little more substantial growing in us.”

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