Tag Archives: Africa





Kwanzaa is a holiday created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga to show respect and appreciation for the history and of people of African ancestry and to also celebrate family and community.  It is celebrated for a week from December 26 to January 1st.  The name comes from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili.  First fruits celebrations date back to ancient Egypt and Nubia and pertain to the harvest. The holiday is considered a cultural instead of religious holiday and any one can celebrate regardless of their faith.

The history of Kwanzaa dates back to the Civil Rights and Black Freedom movements of the 1960’s. The principles are in the Swahili language since it is the most widely used African language.

According to the Huffington Post, “the colors black, red, and green are part of Kwanzaa celebrations due to their special significance. Black represents the people, red is for the blood uniting all those with African ancestry, as well as the blood shed during slavery and the civil rights movement, and green is for the lush land of Africa. These colors also reflect the Pan-African movement itself.”

Kwanzaa Stamp

Kwanzaa has seven principles, one celebrated on each day of the holiday and known collectively as Nguzo Saba. They are African values which are named in both Swahili with English translations.

    • Umoja: Unity
    • Kujichagulia: Self-determination
    • Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility
    • Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics
    • Nia: Purpose
    • Kuumba: Creativity
    •   Imani: Faith

Some of the traditions celebrated during Kwanzaa include songs such as the Black National Anthem and lighting the kinara.  A black candle from the center is used to light the candles from left to right.  There is a candle to represent each one of  the seven principles.Together, the candles are called the mishuuma saba. The kikombe cha umoja, or Unity Cup is another important tradition.


Countries In Africa

It is a large continent but how many countries in Africa are there?  I must admit that I did not know so I looked it up. There are 52 countries total. Nigeria is by far the largest with a population of 146,255,000.  The second largest is Ethiopia with a population of 82,544,800 followed by Egypt-81,713,500, democratic republic of the Congo – 66,514,000, and South Africa with a population of 48,782,800.  The size of some of the countries vary widely from Nigeria’s population in the nine digits to  the lowest population of 206,178 in Sao Tome and Principe.  Several of the other countries with the lowest populations are Djibouti – 506,221 and Equatorial Guinea – 616.459.

Some authorities consider there to be 47 countries instead of 52.  The difference in this number is the four islands, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Madagascar, the Comoros, the Seychelles, and Mauritius. The 47 are on the mainland of Africa.  Occasionally there is a dispute about some of the island countries not being African, but in general all  have strong historical ties to Africa so therefore are generally included.

Education in Africa

Education in Africa

What are the challenges for education in Africa?  I have wondered about this and have heard of various charities, including Oprah, that are opening schools and reaching out to Africa to help establish educational priorities. Being a former educator, I was wondering what are the statistics and facts concerning this.

I was surprised to learn that Africa is the fastest urbanizing continent in the world and by the year 2030, half of its
population will be living and working in towns and cities. There are definite challenges facing Africa though. According to the International Development Research Centre (IDRC)1.UNESCO2 and World Bank3:

“Although literacy rates have greatly improved in Africa over the last few decades, approximately 40% of Africans over the age of 15, and 50% of women above the age of 25 remain illiterate.

Illiteracy among individuals over the age of 15 stands at 41 per cent; gender disparity in education prevails in 75 per cent of countries.In the period 2000–06, Seychelles had the highest adult literacy rate (92%); Mali and Burkina Faso had the lowest (24%).

 Early childhood development is, in most countries, left to private sector actors primarily working in urban areas in aid of more advantaged social groups. 

 Almost 50% of countries may not attain the goal of universal primary education by 2015; nearly 40 million children are not going to school.

 Liberia has the lowest primary student-teacher ratio of 19; in Mozambique the ratio is 67. Cape Verde has the highest gross enrollment rate in secondary education (80%); Niger has the lowest (11%).

 Enrollment in lower secondary school rose to 46% in 2003 from 28% in 1991. The gross secondary school enrollment rate exceeds 20% in half of the countries, yet remains below 8 per cent in in 10 countries.”


Amani School, Kenya Africa
Amani School, Kenya Africa

Approximately ten years ago, the daughter of a close friend of mine from high school started a small school in Dianti Beach, Kenya, Africa.  As it was explained to me, the Amani school was to meet the need for those children that had been kept out of public school because they could not afford the fees and were behind for their grade level. I became friends with Consolata Muysawa, one of the teachers and we exchanged our students art work.

The story for the Amani School has progressed with great strides.  In the last 10 year the school has expanded from very modest beginnings of a thatch roof on four poles to four permanent buildings that contain a nursery, two kindergarten classes, primary education up to grade 5.  There are adult education courses in the evenings. In addition to reading and writing in both English and Swahili, the students are taught math, social studies, art and physical education. The property is also home to Maweni Village’s only fresh water well, three sanitary latrines. There is a kitchen that enables Amani’s free lunch program. Just recently, a clinic was opened in the village which affords free medical care to all students of the Amani School. There is a continued need for support for the Amani School and other educational charities and programs in Africa, but you can make a difference by donating and helping spread awareness.