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Maulana Karenga: An Intellectual Portrait

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4828-6
224 pages
December 2009, Polity
Maulana Karenga: An Intellectual Portrait  (0745648282) cover image
In this book, the most prolific contemporary African American scholar and cultural theorist Molefi Kete Asante leads the reader on an informative journey through the mind of Maulana Karenga, one of the key cultural thinkers of our time. Not only is Karenga the creator of Kwanzaa, an extensive and widespread celebratory holiday based on his philosophy of Kawaida, he is an activist-scholar committed to a "dignity-affirming" life for all human beings. Asante examines the sources of Karenga's intellectual preoccupations and demonstrates that Karenga's concerns with the liberation narratives and mythic realities of African people are rooted in the best interests of a collective humanity.

The book shows Karenga to be an intellectual giant willing to practice his theories in order to manifest his intense emotional attachment to culture, truth and justice. Asante's enlightening presentation and riveting critique of Karenga's works reveal a compelling account of a thinker whose contributions extend far beyond the Academy. Although Karenga began his career as a student activist, a civil rights leader, a Pan Africanist, and a culturalist, he ultimately succeeds in turning his fierce commitment to truth toward dissecting political, social, and ethical issues. Asante carefully analyzes Karenga's important works on Black Studies, but also his earlier works on culture and his later works on ethics, such as The Husia, and Odu Ifa: The Ethical Teachings.

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  • CONTENTS
  • Foreward - by Ama Mazama, Temple University
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements Chapter One - Karenga and the Drawing of the Cultural Grounds
  • Chapter Two - The Cultural Narrative
  • Chapter Three - Controlling Intellectual Territory Chapter Four - Creating Historical Possibilities Chapter Five - Implementing the Lessons Notes
  • Bibliography of Key Writings of Maulana Karenga
  • References
  • Index
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    Molefi Kete Asante is Professor in the Department of African American Studies at Temple University.
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  • Introduction to the life and thought of Maulana Karenga, the African American activist-scholar
  • Karenga founded the festival of Kwanzaa, which the black community celebrate in late December
  • Asante is himself a renowned scholar in this field - this is one intellectual giant commenting and illuminating the other
  • Introduces Karenga's key work on Black Studies, but also analyses his political, social, and cultural theories
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    "Asante provides an informative background reading on a scholar for whom the Kwanzaa celebration represents the tip of the iceberg in his activist and academic achievements."
    Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies

    "To have the seminal thinker Molefi Asante writing on the legendary Maulana Karenga is a grand treat! This work is an historic encounter of great significance and contemporary relevance."
    Cornel West, Princeton University

    "Asante has given us the first in-depth study of the thought of Maulana Karenga. A major cultural influence in the sixties, Karenga's Kawaida Philosophy serves as a primary source of Afrocentric thinking today."
    Charles Henry, University of California, Berkeley

    "In this remarkable study, Professor Asante not only provides an intellectual biography of Karenga, undertaken with rare devotion and deep understanding, but also renders homage to an outstanding scholar whose work, spanning some four decades, has been fundamental in the development of African American cultural awareness in our time."
    F. Abiola Irele, Harvard University


    "Asante has given us the first in-depth study of the thought of Maulana Karenga. A major cultural influence in the sixties, Karenga's Kawaida Philosophy serves as a primary source of Afrocentric thinking today."
    Charles Henry, University of California, Berkeley

    "In this remarkable study, Professor Asante not only provides an intellectual biography of Karenga, undertaken with rare devotion and deep understanding, but also renders homage to an outstanding scholar whose work, spanning some four decades, has been fundamental in the development of African American cultural awareness in our time."
    F. Abiola Irele, Harvard University

    "To have the seminal thinker Molefi Asante writing on the legendary Maulana Karenga is a grand treat! This work is an historic encounter of great significance and contemporary relevance."
    Cornel West, Princeton University

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