Father, mother and daughter lightning candles as symbols of struggle, hope and heritage. Photo courtesy of Creative Content on Demand.

By Daniel Winner | AC JosepH Media Correspondent

ATLANTIC CITY — Habari gani?


The fourth principle of Kwanzaa is “Ujamaa” or “Cooperative economics.” The practice of Ujamaa is “to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Also translated as “fraternity” or “familyhood,” Ujamaa implies the sharing of work and resources among the family, and by extension, the community. This may be a familiar concept to those who are aware of the history of African political philosophy.

When Tanzania gained independence from Britain in 1961, former President Julius Nyerere developed a socialist development policy based on this ideology. It was under this principle that Nyerere attempted to enact African liberation by moving away from both Western capitalism and totalitarian forms of Communism that existed in China and Russia.

Although Tanzania eventually built a strong relationship with communist China — who took a great deal of interest in Tanzania’s development, contributing $2 billion in economic aid (the most China has ever given a foreign nation). The principle of Ujamaa rings true by reminding us that wealth belongs to those who created it and should not be allocated to those who exploit and oppress people.

According to human rights activist Malcolm X, “When you spend your dollar out of the community in which you live, the community in which you spend your money becomes richer and richer. The community out of which you take your money becomes poorer and poorer.”

With this in mind, we can consider the many ways we could provide service. One way to practice Ujamaa could be by supporting local Black-owned businesses.

We can also pursue work in a wide variety of fields, expanding our shared demographic through the economic world that impacts our own communities.

Generosity is an ethical obligation implied in Ujamaa and is a virtue inherent in traditional African cultures. In one study from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), it has been shown that three countries in East Africa — Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania — are among the top nations in the world that actively participate in grassroots philanthropy.

Ujamaa shares a strong connection with the cultural tradition and official motto of Kenya that is “harambee.” A Swahili term for “everyone pulling together,” harambee is a vital component in the observance of Kwanzaa.

It reminds us of the importance of civic unity and cooperation in all our endeavors. As we light the second red candle, we are determined to assist our community in any way that we can, all while striving for equality and justice.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Daniel Winner has a double major in Religious Studies and Japanese from Penn State University and has traveled internationally to the Far East on several occasions. His insights on Buddhism and Asian culture give a unique view of historical and modern trends. He will be serving as a contributor for Front Runner New Jersey.

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