Do you struggle with your children’s behavior at times? Are you looking for a way to include Character Building in your curriculum, but can only find overly simplistic or strictly religious workbooks on the topic? Would you like to have a simple, fun, and interactive way to teach your children African centered spiritual and moral principles in a way where they can easily understand and apply them?
I am excited beyond words to announce that I am releasing a book series this August (just a few weeks away!) titled Character Building for African Centered Scholars. The first two books are for Grades 1 -4 (77 pages) and Grades 4 and Up (107 pages). The following books in this series will expand more in detail on the ideas covered in the main books or add to them.
In Character Building for African Centered Scholars, your students will learn character building principles from Ma’at, Iwa Pele, Nguzo Saba, the Adrinka Symbols , and more! The many sacrifices that we make to educate our children are for one reason and one reason only: to shape them into successful, critically thinking, and independent adults with good characters. Each book is fun, interactive, and written in a way where it serves as both a textbook and a workbook! I’m so thrilled and you will be too!
Pre-Order Now for a 20% discount!!! Your book will be shipped by August 31, 2015.
Each chapter is easy to read for self-guided work, with images and lots of activities. Also, there are additional activities in the back of the book to keep your student engaged and developing an excellent character:
Read an excerpt from the chapter discussing Ma’at (From Character Building for African Centered Scholars: Grades 4 and Up):
“I have satisfied God with that which He loves. I have given bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, and a boat to those without one.” – The Book of Coming Forth by Day
Ma’at is a concept of morality that originated in Kemet (ancient Egypt). The figure of Ma’at as expressed in hieroglyphic carvings is that of a woman with extended wings or a woman with a feather on her crown. According to this spiritual philosophy, when a human being transitions out of the physical realm (death), he or she meets Ma’at, and then his or her heart is weighed against a feather.
If one’s heart is weighted heavily with wrongdoing and poor character, it will be eaten by Ammit, a monstrous being who is part lion, part crocodile, and part hippopotamus. Once this happens, one will not be able to achieve eternal life, but will instead become a restless spirit – a ghost.
How do we interpret this in modern day terms? First, let’s look at the meaning of eternal life, or immortality. Can one truly become immortal? If so, we have not witnessed this phenomenon on earth. Science has not generated immortality on earth, nor has religion. However, we do see that humans have achieved immortality through their legacies.
For example, let’s examine the story of Imhotep, who is best known for being the architect of the oldest known pyramid. He was born around 2,667 BCE – nearly 5,000 years ago. Imhotep was born neither rich nor privileged, but he worked hard to develop his intelligence and to be of service to those greater than him. He did not just sit around and think, “I wish that I was smarter,” – he studied regularly to build his knowledge. He did not just read to make good grades or to impress others. He put his knowledge into action. In turn, he developed himself into the first known physician, a legendary architect, a brilliant poet, a scribe, an astronomer, and the advisor to King Djoser. He went from being a regular kid with no special head start in life to being a multi-talented genius who gave advice to the king. Wow, isn’t that incredible?
As a result of Imhotep’s practice of good character, he left a legacy that is still widely honored and studied nearly 5,000 years later. That is a form of immortality. Imagine – what if people are still learning from your life 5,000 years from now? That was the goal of many ancient Egyptians – to live their lives so well, with such upright actions, with such beneficial works, that people would still study their lives as examples for how to live, thousands of years later. Let’s now examine the principles of Ma’at to understand how the Kemetic people went about striving towards immortality.
SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF MA’AT
What do these principles mean and how can we practice them daily?
TRUTH – Truth is to tell what really happened, i.e. not telling lies. But, truth is also to understand what is real and what is false. When we commit to learning history, we can separate fact from fiction and take action based on full knowledge. For example, we know that Christopher Columbus did not discover America, so we do not honor him, celebrate him, or idolize him in any way. We instead honor and celebrate real leaders who made sincere contributions to the advancement of African people all over the world, and to all humanity. Truth also applies to being able to critically analyze the information that we receive for flaws or biases. If we read a news article that refers to one young male who got into some trouble as a criminal, and another young male of a different ethnic group or culture who made a similar mistake as a troubled teen – that is a bias. They may have both been troubled teens who needed help. You can then write in to the news outlet asking them to make a correction, or you can write your own newspaper or blog to report from a more unbiased perspective. Actions like these would demonstrate your commitment to truth, and also help shape your legacy.
Check out the Table of Contents for Character Building for African Centered Scholars: Grades 4 and Up.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How to Use this Book 11
Character Building Principles:
Iwa Pele 47
Nguzo Saba 61
Adrinka Symbols 74
Character Building Examples:
Queen Nzinga 81
Shaka Zulu 82
Marcus Garvey 83
Fannie Lou Hamer 85
Alice Walker 86
Putting Principles into Practice:
Creative Writing 89
Visual Art 91
Critical Thinking 93
Community Service Extensions 94
My Glossary 97
My Notes 101
Thank you for reading this far! I may run a contest to offer free copies to select followers. Comment if you would be interested in a contest of this nature.
All the best to you and your family!
Love and Light,
The goal of the many sacrifices that we make to educate our children are for one reason and one reason only: to shape them into successful, critically thinking, and independent adults with good characters.
Which traits are representative of these ideal adults that we are molding?
Dr. Amos Wilson, author of many books on African American child psychology, such as The Developmental Psychology of the Black Child and Awakening the Natural Genius of Black Children, offers a list of attributes to cultivate in Black children based on traditional African values.
- respect for adults
- universal sense of justice
- respect for order
- social interest
- good manners
- sensitivity to persons and environment
- self-esteem/family and community pride
- commitment to promises made or contracts
- love of learning
- ethnic/cultural identity
- general care for humans of all races
- reverence for life
How do we nurture these traits within our children?
The first and best way to teach our children any good habit is to model it. Outside of that, whichever spiritual system that we practice will serve as much of the moral foundation for our children. Even if you do not consider yourself religious, be sure to discuss morals on a regular basis.
We can also look to the moral guidelines from traditional Africa and teach our children not just to memorize them, but to practice them in daily life.
The Nguzo Saba
The Nguzo Saba is a character-guiding system based on East African tenets. It was adapted in the 20th century by Maulana Karenga, an African American scholar into seven simple principles.
(The Seven Principles)
| Umoja (Unity)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
| Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
| Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
| Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
| Nia (Purpose)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
| Kuumba (Creativity)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
How can we practice the Nguzo Saba?
We can think of creative ways to incorporate the Seven Principles into our daily lives.
For instance, unity can be demonstrated by working as a team to cook a healthy dinner or clean the house. Unity can also be practiced by working together to accomplish a larger goal, such as cleaning up a block in our neighborhood.
My son and I sometimes go downtown to help feed the homeless. We meet up with a wonderful group here in Houston that serves dinner to over 100 people 4 times a week. When we go there and interact with homeless of all races and genders that we might normally pass by on the street, it has a profound impact on both me and my son.
This week, let us all practice the first principle, Unity, in creative ways. Please leave feedback in the comments about how Unity was applied in your home this week.
Over the coming blogs on this topic, I will suggest methods for implementing the other 6 principles as well as introduce other traditional African moral systems.
(Artwork by BrothaJ2 from deviantart.com)