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Gina Kaye Madison

celebrates Kwanzaa at the African-American fair

 For a special niece, from

Auntie Wanda & Uncle Ben

Happy Kwanzaa!

     It was a sunny morning in Atlanta, Georgia Gina Kaye Madison, age 6, was just entering the African-American Fair with her class.

     All week
Gina had watched as the park was decorated with hay, bamboo, and colorful banners. Gina wished that Kris, Alexa, and Laura were here to see how it looked like it was in Africa!

     "Everyone, look for things you need for Kwanzaa (KWAN-zah)," the teacher said. The class had just learned about this very special holiday.

     Gina ran up to a stall. "Look," she cried. "Here's a Kinara (kee-NAH-ree), the candle holder!"

     "The seven candles,"
Gina said. "On December 26th, the first night of Kwanzaa, I'll get to light the first Mshumaa Saba. Then another candle will be lit each night until we have our big feast, the Karamu (kah-RAH-moo), on January 1st."

     "You speak Swahili words well," the merchant smiled.

     Gina hurried to another stall to find a Mkeka (mm-KAY-kah), the straw mat where the other Kwanzaa items would be placed.

     Not only did
she find the Mkeka, but also beautiful red, black, and green fabric.

     "We can use this fabric to decorate our homes for Kwanzaa,"
Gina said. "Red stands for African-American history, black represents our country and people, and green is for our future."

     "Now all that's left are Vibunzi (vee-BOON-zee), the ears of corn. One for each kid in the family," a classmate said.

     "Don't forget the presents, the Zawadi (zah-WAH-dee)!"
Gina shouted. She looked around at all the wonderful things. "Lots of stuff here would make great Zawadi."

     Remembering the Zawadi made
Gina think of the last night of Kwanzaa. There would be dancing, music, the great feast, and the Zawadi would be opened.

     Everyone would talk about how they would celebrate the spirit of Kwanzaa in the new year.
Gina hoped that Kris, Alexa, and Laura would be there.

     Gina and her classmates gathered around the teacher. "This fair is like Kwanzaa. It's roots are African--the stalls, the hay, many of the items being sold--but it's an American event. Dr. Maulana Kaeenga had this in mind when he created Kwanzaa in 1966. You see, although Kwanzaa is only celebrated in America, it's roots are in African heritage," the teacher said. "When we celebrate Kwanzaa, each day we remember one of the seven guiding principles--the Nguzo Saba (na-GOO-zo SAH-bah)."

     "If you look closely," she continued, "you can see many of the principles being practiced right here."

     All the students looked around. Suddenly
Gina shouted, "I know, the first one is Umoja (oo-MOH-jahy) or unity. African-Americans have united together to create this fair in our community."

     The teacher nodded. "Does anyone see the next principle, Kujichagulia (koo-GEE-cha-GOO-lee-ah) here?" When no one answered, she went on, "remember it means for African-Americans to create and speak for ourselves. This fair is a way for us to do that, by showing our history and beliefs, through our crafts, art, storytelling, dancing and food."

     "Next is Ujima (oo-GEE-mah) which guides us to work together," the teacher continued.

     "That sounds a lot like Umoja. What's the difference?" asked a student.

     Gina raised her hand excitedly. "Ujima means to have a shared responsibility for our community," she said. "That means working together to keep our community strong, and helping others in the community that are in need. This fair makes our community stronger by bringing us all together."

     Another classmate called out, "the next principle, Ujama (oo-JAH-mah), is here, too,
Gina. It means that African-Americans should have our own businesses, and shop and do business at other African-American owned establishments. The merchants here are African-Americans, and African-Americans are shopping here!"

     "Yes," replied the teacher. "Also, the people who were hired to create fliers, arrange for the banners we saw, and all the other advertising for the fair were African-Americans, too."

     Gina looked at her teacher in amazement. "Nia (NEE-ah), the next principle, must be here too because I sure am proud of my community."

     "Nia, or having a purpose for ourselves and our community, is hard to see with your eyes, but you can tell when it's working. That's why you feel proud, Gina," answered the teacher.

     Gina smiled at her best friend who knew the next principle, "Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah), or creativity, is easy to see! Everything here is creative and looks great!"

     The teacher looked at all the students. "The last principle Imani (ee-MAH-nee), or faith, means to believe in ourselves, and have faith that our people are strong and marvelous. When we celebrate Kwanzaa we will remember each of the principles, one for each day, and we will be ready to start the new year with Imani."

     Gina smiled happily. She couldn't wait to tell Kris, Alexa, and Laura all about the incredible African-American fair. She hoped they would all be together to celebrate Kwanzaa!

~ ~ ~


Gina Kaye Madison

Enjoy this book!


A Special Gift from

Auntie Wanda & Uncle Ben


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