Maroon Life Learning, LLC or simply MLL is a company created by husband and wife team Njeri and Jeffrey Nembhard.
Greetings and welcome to Maroon Life Learning. My name is Njeri Nembhard and I am partner-in-all things to Jeffrey Nembhard.
Jeff was born in Britain to Jamaican parents and raised in Jamaica and the US, with more time spent in the US. I was born and raised in Kenya, but I have spent the greater part of my life in the US. Together, our post-1492 family history reflects almost every aspect of the ‘Maafa’ – the African colonial experience. ‘Maafa’ is a Swahili term coined by historian Marimba Ani meaning ‘the great suffering’ and 1492 was the beginning of the European colonial era.
When we met 22 yeas ago, we connected on many levels and spent many a late-night reading books, watching videos (vcr back then) and discussing black history and the politics of race. For me, it was the beginning of a serious journey into learning about black history and let me tell you – it was life-changing. I felt that I was finally getting the education I craved. For this I am ever indebted to scholars like John Henrick Clarke, Ivan van Sertima, Runoko Rashidi, Cheikh anta Diop, Marcus Garvey, Naim Akbar, John G. Jackson, Ra Un Nefer Amen and so many others who DID the work that fed my soul. Jeff was ahead of me in knowledge but I didn’t slouch and I soaked everything up like a thirsty sponge. That was it, we knew that when we were ready to have children, we would prioritize teaching them all about their rich, ancient heritage. We did not want our children to join the millions of black children all over the world who are languishing in school systems (in Africa as well) that, do not provide them with adequate information about their rich, ancient past which results in the gross mis-education & low self esteem which impacts all areas of our development as human beings. Our great grand parents, grand parents, parents and we ourselves had been one of those million children and we wanted it to stop with us. But we weren’t prepared for how difficult it would be.
It was daunting. So much information, that had to be broken down to the child level. First, we had to teach them how to read, how to comprehend, what to comprehend – because as black children they have to comprehend more than their white counterparts because they are not positively reflected in the society. Eighteen years ago, when Hondo, our first child, was born, we started this journey. At that time, African-centered educational materials were VERY scarce. And 3 years later when our 2nd child Indigo was born things weren’t much better. But, you know what they say, necessity is the mother of invention and ‘mother necessity’ was present in full force. So, in our small 2nd floor apartment in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn, we began to create our own resources. That was when Maroon Life Learning was formed. We saw and continue to see ourselves as Maroons – the hundreds of thousands of self-liberated Africans in the Americas who created their own free communities in vigorous defiance to the slave system.
And, we were not alone. We soon realized that we were part of a growing movement of black families being Maroons and choosing to homeschool their children rather than send them to the schools. We were, and still are, the largest and fastest growing group of families choosing the homeschool path. The good news is, that over the past 20 years, many of us rose to the occasion and followed in the footsteps of those who came before us – and wrote books, created our own curricula, co-ops and learning opportunities.
In 2012, a grant opportunity came our way and Jeff and I created a program called African History, Heritage & Me which we taught at a public middle school in DC. The program we designed was a huge success and there after we decided to start our own online program. Teaching online was a new thing at the time, and we were introduced to it by 2 other amazing Maroon teachers who were already doing it – Sister Mawusi and Sister Njideka. We ran it until 2016 at which time we took a break. You see, at the same time that we were teaching online, I was homeschooling our children and Jeff was working full time. We realized that splitting our time in this way was taking its toll on our family life. So, I, as the main teacher, took a break from teaching online to restore the balance. It took 4 years. But now we’re back, family restored! We are excited because Hondo is now 18 and has graduated from our homeschool and at 15 Indigo is well on her way. In spite of our break, over the past 8 years we have had the immense pleasure and honor of teaching over hundred and fifty children.
If you are still reading this, we hope that our story and our work is resonating with you. We invite you to find out more about what we are offering. Join the Afronaut Club and enroll your child in an AfriClass! Together we can be the change we want to see in the world! Aluta Continua.
Njeri Nembhard is a co-founder of Maroon Life Learning (MLL) which focuses on the continued study and proliferation of African knowledge, culture and history. For the past 18 year she has been a homeschool educator of her own and other children. She has created African Centered curricula which she has taught in brick and mortar schools and online for adults and children alike. She is a graduate of Columbia University Teachers College with a master’s degree in International Education Development, Curriculum and Technology. A person dedicated to academic excellence and the advancement of African people and their descendants in the Diaspora. She has prior academic experience, in the areas of, curriculum development and academic proofing, business development and publication projects and hotel management. An energetic enthusiastic individual, she is committed to the plight and journey of African science, art and culture through its’ people and their descendants.
Jeffrey Nembhard is a co-founder of Maroon Life Learning (MLL) which focuses on the continued study and proliferation of African knowledge, culture and history. He is a former Senior IT Professional with a unique background combining program management, software and database development with financial analysis. More than 25 years of programming/analysis experience across a wide platform of expertise from engineering applications to financial reporting serving a broad range of clients. He is a dedicated and committed believer in the teaching and spreading of African knowledge and the black experience. A progressive individual, who is dedicated to applying past experience, to create media and tools to further develop educational resources to advance African based knowledge, culture and science.
It is our firm belief that parents are and should be the first educators of their children. That is why we homeschool our children. However, we know that homeschooling is not an option for many parents and neither is finding the time to create materials or curricula. We hope that our classes will help to lighten your load and make it easier for you to teach your children their African history.