COLUMBIA — Dee Campbell-Carter distracted first-graders at Rock Bridge Elementary from thoughts of Santa and got them excited for the day after Christmas — the start of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration beginning Dec. 26 and ending Jan. 1. Campbell-Carter, who has celebrated the holiday with her family for fifteen years, shared the history, meaning and practices of Kwanzaa with the students.
Students learned the seven principles of Kwanzaa including unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia) and creativity (kuumba). They learned Swahili and history through singing, clapping and chanting. Campbell-Carter showed them handmade instruments like a beaded gourd and a rainstick. She said families looking to celebrate Kwanzaa for the first time should start at the library.
“The beat draws you in when you're learning things,” she said.
She told students that no matter their heritage, they can celebrate Kwanzaa. Campbell-Carter gave examples of crafts such as instruments and decorative masks that students can create during the holiday.
Elayna Mottaz, 7, said her favorite part of the morning was “shaking the maraca” and that she would like to try making masks with her family for Kwanzaa.
Campbell-Carter said students can participate in the holiday with something as simple as doing the dishes or feeding the homeless.