On this fourth day of Kwanzaa, we celebrate and reflect on Ujamaa [oo-JAH-mah] (cooperative economics).
UJAMAA (cooperative economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and the profit from them together.
Ujamaa emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support. Together, we can use our joint resources to do the many things yet undone that will protect and improve the lives of our families and our community.
Combining our resources and supporting our merchants, craftsmen and artisans.
Before integration, there was a thriving culture of black enterprise born out of sheer necessity—in order to get certain goods and services denied us, we had to form our own companies and sell to our own community members. Now in this age of superstores and mass-production, we have all gone for the cheaper deal over quality merchandise and community merchant support. With the exception of hair care and restaurants, we have been increasingly less supportive of our own community businesses. While it’s a bit impractical to expect a full-scale abandonment of Wal-Mart, we can devote more of our dollars to help merchants thrive in their businesses (and conversely, refraining from undermining said business by indulging in thievery for your own immediate profit—yes, you trifling, cowardly burglars who broke into Big Shirley’s TWICE, I’m talking to YOU….). How much more difficult is it really to find a merchant with something you need that lives, works in and contributes to your immediate community? This is one principle that seems hardest to embrace–but it may be the beginning to our renewed prosperity and economic power.