Kwanzaa: Zawadis (Gifts) That Reflect Our African Heritage

Bino and Fino is an African educational cartoon. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Bino and Fino is an African educational cartoon. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Contemporary psychological literature is overflowing with empirical evidence (originating in or based on observation or experience) indicating the importance of active positive racial socialization of Black children.  Reinforcing positive attitudes, behaviors, information and beliefs about African culture is connected to academic achievement, psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being, especially in black children.

The recently released documentary, American Promise, underscores what we, as Black psychologists, have known and attempted to share with the public for more than half a century.  As we embark on the Kwanzaa season, I have compiled a list of choice zawadis (gifts) to support the healthy racial identity development of my little Black boy and possibly yours. Happy Kwanzaa!

Kwanzaa Set
This set contains all of the symbols of Kwanzaa you will need to celebrate the holiday. Created from a single piece of wood, the candleholder was inspired by the Ashanti royal throne. Intricately carved at its base is the symbol “gye nyame” meaning steadfastness in courage.

Kwanzaa Books (My First Kwanzaa; A Kwanzaa Celebration)
A great way to get acquainted with Kwanzaa principles.

Gift ideas for those who celebrate Kwanzaa. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Gift ideas for those who celebrate Kwanzaa.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Djembe Drum
The drum in African culture goes beyond Revolutionary and Religious functions. It symbolizes origins, and, as Dr. Maureen Warner-Lewis suggests, it “comes to symbolize Africa itself.”

African drums.

African drums.

Bino and Fino African Educational Cartoon
A positive, educational African cultural cartoon for children.

Putumayo CDs – Putumayo Kids
Celebrates the world through music! Features music from the African continent, New Orleans and the Caribbean.


Playmobil Egyptian Play Set
Children can experience and recreate the world through miniature mobile projects based on children’s play principles.

Montessori Puzzle Map of Africa
Why not start teaching your children about the different countries in Africa now? This wooden puzzle map has a knob indicating each African country. Not to worry, there is a labeled and unlabeled control map if you need help.

Hape All Season Furnished House With Black Family
Build a playhouse and furnish it with a family that looks like you!

Ezra Jack Keats book cover for 'Pet Show'.

Ezra Jack Keats book cover for ‘Pet Show’.

Ezra Jack Keats Children’s Books
These children’s books examine a number of topics. Some of my favorites are “Peter’s Chair,” “Hi, Cat!” “Pet Show!” “Whistle For Willie,” “A Letter for Amy,” “Regards to the Man in the Moon,” “Louie,” “Goggles!” and  “A Snowy Day.”

What are some of your Zawadi ideas that reflect African culture? Share with us in the comments section below. Happy Kwanzaa!

This post was written by Nyasha Grayman-Simpson, Ph.D., who is a counseling psychologist located in Baltimore, MD.

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