Kwanzaa’s Fourth Principle Ujamaa | Cooperative Economics

Ujamaa | Cooperative Economics

by Natalie A. Collier

In the economic symphony conducted by American capitalists, Ujamaa is about as dissonant to this country’s dog-eat-dog financial ideology as the milly rock to Tchaikovky’s “1812 Overture.” It just doesn’t work. But it probably could. Here’s the thing for those of you who have concerns: Cooperative economics doesn’t call for the abandoning of your personal pursuits, dreams and goals, even financial ones. It does, however, admonish us to bear the greater good of ourselves for not only ourselves but others. What am I saying? Getting money ain’t the problem, getting it with a Biggie Smalls and Lil’ Kim mentality that makes things a little murky. The song slaps, but it also gives no consideration for those beyond self. The principle of Ujamaa suggests that getting just for the sake of getting is a waste. Financial resources are a tool, and there are plenty of other tools. Therefore, it is wise that we think of this not only in terms of financial economics but resources generally. The resources—gifts, talents, skills, time, influence—we have and are able to marshal are not just for ourselves but the greater community and world. You and me at our best facilitates you and me at our best; it’s reciprocal and it doesn’t depend solely on the dollar bill, no matter what the patriarchal capitalistic society insists. There is, indeed, enough sunlight for everyone.

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