Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African (relating to all people of African birth or descent) holiday that celebrates history, values, family, community and culture. The ideas and concepts of Kwanzaa are expressed in the Swahili language, one of the most widely spoken languages in Africa. The seven principles which form its core were drawn from communitarian values found throughout the African continent. These principles are:
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
Kwanzaa gets its name from the Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza” and is rooted in first fruit celebrations which are found in cultures throughout Africa both in ancient and modern times.
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In Mario Goes to the Museum, Mario learns about African history and culture and American slavery on a museum visit. Several aspects of his experience speak to the principles of Kwanzaa. Mario and his dad practice Ujoma, the act of togetherness when they decide to spend time together. In learning about his history and discovering that he, too, is a precious item, Mario practices Kujichagulia. He and his dad discuss Ujima, collective responsibility, when Mario's tells him that as a parent he strives to help Mario feel free. There are these examples and so much more embedded in the story. Revisit your copy of Mario Goes to the Museum to discover more examples of Kwanzaa principles. The seven principles are explained below. Click here to download this free Kwanza-centered worksheet for your reading.