Metropolitan Baptist Church celebrates Kwanzaa holiday

Published 4:52 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Members of Metropolitan Baptist Church gathered Sunday to celebrate the last day of Kwanzaa, a week-long holiday focused on African-American heritage.

Founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga, the seven days of Kwanzaa focuses on bringing families together to celebrate seven core values, Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumla (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). During the last day of Imani, a feast titled Karamu is held in celebration of the holiday.

“Kwanzaa is not a religion, it doesn’t replace anyone’s religion regardless of whatever anyone’s religion affiliation is…,” explained Rev. Dr. Isaac J. Baker, who is also known by his African name Akinwale Baba Amoye. “Kwanzaa in essence really, is about an African celebration of the principal ways of living that would help one to live daily or yearly.”

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After his time in the military, Baker returned to Suffolk in the early 1990s and served with First Baptist Church Mahan, where he met his wife. Baker soon returned to MBC and is currently chairman of the Afrocentric Ministry.

“I was raised up there, I was baptized there back in the early ‘50s, then in the early 60s, I left and went into the military. In the military, you’re moving around the world, but you never forget where you come from, where your roots are,” Baker said. “You’re still the ministry’s servant, the spirit is still with you.”

Baker explained the adoption of his spiritual name, Akinwale Baba Amoye, back in 2004. He also shared more about the ceremony and how those who are conscious and afrocentric begin to feel the spirit.

“After about a month-long ceremony in preparation and then at the conclusion of that program, your name is given from the priest, and was given to him from one of the deities called Orisha,” he said.

Baker spoke of the church event that celebrated Imani, or “Faith.” Along with dancing and families gathering together, there was the Karamu feast.

“The Karamu feast is a feast about the meal, Baker said. “We as a family, we come together, we celebrate, we sit around the table, talk about things that happened this past year, things that we’re looking forward coming in the new year, and it’s a four course meal that we serve.”

With the blessing of their daughter and her sister, the feast included black-eyed peas, sweet potato yams, rice with turkey and corn, which represents the youth.

“The traditional was definitely on the menu, and it was on the table and it was on the plate,” Baker happily said.

Finally, Baker talked about the future of the event in 2023, along with getting ready for Black History Month, Juneteenth and honoring the ancestors of Nat Turner from Southampton County.

“We’re hoping to do it again in 2023, and each time we do it, we try to add a little more flavor to it and we try to add a little more education to it so we can educate people what Kwanzaa is all about,” he said.

“I just wish people will come out and just really watch, observe and learn what Kwanzaa is about and it’s not nothing negative, it’s very positive,” Baker said.

For more information on Metropolitan Baptist Church, visit metropolitanbaptist1.org. For information on Kwanzaa, go to the website, officialkwanzaawebsite.org.