I remember growing up and my mother would have the biggest smile on her face and voice with excitement for the first day of Kwanzaa! She would greet me saying, “Habri Gani?” I would happily say, “Umoja!” See, I grew up in a predominantly white town and she knew that I needed a cultural celebration like Kwanzaa to keep me rooted in my African heritage. She knew that waking up to Habri Gani would pull me into a long tradition of Black Americans reconnecting and feeling affirmed in their skin. 

 Dr. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966. Its creation was birthed from a need for community after the Watts riots in LA. He researched African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations and Karenga combined aspects from the Ashanti and those of the Zulu to form the roots of Kwanzaa. Matunda ya kwanza means first fruits in Swahili. Every family celebrates differently but, there is always dancing, storytelling, and honoring our ancestors. There are seven nights and seven principles commemorated on the Kinara (candleholder) starting December 26th and ends on January 1st. The Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture! Although Dr. Karenga is a nuanced man with his own shortcomings. We can still honor the heart of the celebration.

Here are a couple of resources from Afrocentric Montessori!

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