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Walimu (teachers)



Baba Baye Kemit, M.Ed
Founder and Principal


(Exerpt from an article written by Baye Kemit)

Independent Black Institutions have long ago dismissed the mundane rhetoric of the public school educational theories. Our institutions, with its limited funding and staff, have consistently excelled above and beyond the best public, private and parochial schools throughout the country. Our focus has been simple; education is more than schooling. Mwalimu Shujaa, co-founder of African Peoples Action School and current Provost of Southern University in Baton Rouge, in his prolific book, "Too Much Schooling, Too Little Education: A Paradox of Black Life in White Societies" writes, "that for Africans in the United States (and elsewhere, for that matter) education must be recognized as a process that should reflect our own interests as a cultural nation and be grounded in our cultural history." pg. 9-10

African centered schools have succeeded in knowing that ''whats good for the goose may not necessarily be good for the gander." Essentially, what the local school districts mandate as the standards for the public school students are not our standards. In our shuleni (schools), it is incumbent upon our wanafunzi (students) to know and actualize the Nguzo Saba, invent Science projects and display them at the Council of Independent Black Institutions (CIBI) National Science Expo, learn and perform African dance/drum, speak African languages, demonstrate good character, know African history, culture, heritage, and, most importantly, excel to their greatest potential.

African-centered walimu (ACW) are the nexus, the conduit for actualizing all of the above mentioned realities in our nation's future, the watoto (children). "Education", as Shujaa furthers, "is our means of providing for inter-generational transmission of values, beliefs, traditions, customs, rituals and sensibilities along with the knowledge of why these things must be sustained." pg. 10 As I will later address, it is the ACW that bring these elements into the classroom as practitioners of African culture. It is the ACW, with his/her many talents, research, experiences, love, commitment, katha wa katha (kwk-as so on in Swahili), that intuit the walking curriculum that European schools spend millions of do

llars to produce.



Iya Makeda Kemit
Founder and Walimu


(Exerpt from an article written by Baye Kemit)

A closer examination of the section on "Walimu" provides a clear articulation of what ACW embody. According to Baba Agyei Akoto, ACW:

  1. Are a representative of the whole culture.
  2. Are entrusted with the task of inculcating the essential values of that culture and thereby guaranteeing its continuation.
  3. Come to the classroom representing in one sense the limitations of tradition and the existing order.
  4. Bring with him/her all the accumulated wisdom of tradition and must seek to impart that wisdom in a way that inspires and fuels the new energy and unlimited potential of the mwanafanzi (student).
  5. Must possess a general command of that accumulated wisdom, along with a specific mastery of a chosen area of speciality.
  6. Must possess a deep-felt and infectious drive to achieve greater command of both the wisdom of tradition and modernity.
  7. Must bring enthusiasm, conviction, ideological clarity, moral integrity, and courage, as well as knowledge, to the teaching/learning environment.
  8. Must be generally knowledgeable of the history of Afrika: of the major events and themes that characterize that history. He/she must additionally be knowledgeable of the involvement of Afrikans in world history, as well as the current involvement of Afrikans in the specific discipline being taught.

As stated above, ACW, as practitioners of African-culture, create realities within the classroom that are unique to African-centered shuleni. For example, teachable moments in the African centered setting range from discussions on Yoruba orisa (deities); how Osun is the river and her offerings are pumpkins, flowers, citric fruits, and sweets. A lesson could be developed on learning about growing pumpkin seeds, then having students grow them in the classroom. It could then be followed by a trip to a local farm, concluding with a visit to the river to make offerings to the spirit of Osun, which lies in the river. Since the ACW is well studied and a practitioner of the orisa tradition, the facilitation of such an activity would go congruent with on-going classroom lessons on African traditional cultures like the Yoruba, Akan, Nile Valley, kwk.