Kwanzaa: The First Fruits Celebration- Ujamaa Day

December 29, 2015


Ujamaa poster

kwanzaa4-UjamaaThis is the fourth day of the Kwanzaa, Ujamaa or Cooperative Economics Day: “To build and develop investments and revenue sharing projects collectively and to profit from them together.”




The Ingathering Activity

Today, the family and/or friends come together to discuss ways for the family, and/or friends and community to create ways to share revenue by investing and building together the strategies and structures to make possible the sharing of revenue. The lost memory of our grandparents and their parents pooling their resources together- both labor , money, and material- troubles us today. Our great historical leaders- Richard Allen, Booker T Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Marcus Garvey- all encourage and instructed us to invest together in our financial future. This begins with the family, investing with friends or themselves in a revenue-sharing project. Too, the family may discuss efficiency initiatives, i.e., ways to save money.

Explanation of Ujamaa

 This principle is grounded in the unselfish concern for and devotion to the material well-being of others. To be sure, this principle sets in motion a “thick set of concentric circles of obligations and responsibilities evolving round levels of relationships radiating from the biological and extended family to the wider circumference of the neighborhood and others. In our own history, we have a compelling model of cooperative economic-Negro” Baseball Leagues. We would do well to study and emulate this model.

A Model of Cooperative Economics: “Negro” Baseball Leagues

Negro American League

During the period of American history known as “Jim Crow,” one of the most thriving institutions in black life was the Black Baseball Leagues. The leagues were among the largest black businesses in the United States. The roots of black baseball’s organizational structure coincided with the rise of mutual aid societies in the 1840s. Mutual aid societies were essential in conjunction with the church, in forming the nucleus for the modern black community.

What is fascinating and instructive about the formation of the “Negro Leagues” was that they had to operate their “established segregated enterprise within the fabric of a national economy. As Michael E. Lomax notes: Black baseball magnates utilized a business concept know as cooperative enterprises…From the outset, early black entrepreneurs recognized that any success in developing black businesses to some sense of stability could occur through economic cooperation. Thus, the consolidation of resources became a means to establish black enterprises.” To be sure, the Black Baseball Leagues serve as a compelling and instructive model of cooperative economics.Negro National League






Remembrance and Libation Statement (Optional)


The Kwanzaa activity of pouring of libation is a spiritual and venerable act which has its roots in traditional African societies. It was done then and is done now to honor those who have gone before us. Their lives and contributions made it possible for us to live with more freedom and dignity.

Candle Lighting Activity

Red CandleEach day of Kwanzaa, the family lights one of the candles, which represents one of days and principles of Kwanzaa. On Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics Day, we light the red candle. The red candle is symbolic of struggle or effort and work. Remember Fredrick Douglass’s Statement on struggle: If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

Ujamaa Commitment

The Ujamaa commitment is made by each family member and is often done with the candle lighting activity. The family begins by discussing the principle Ujamaa- how doing the year each member has contributed to this principle and by what means will they will observe the Ujamaa principle the following year.

Umoja Family Activity

The Ujamaa activity is intended to reinforce the Ujamaa principle. Therefore, the family engages or plans an activity of its choosing which underscores this principle. Note that it can be a small gesture. The key here is to plant the seed of revenue-sharing and then following through during the year.

Kwanzaa Karamu (The Feast)

There is no special or mandatory food for Kwanzaa. The choice of food is strictly an individual family decision. You may choose to go out for the Kwanzaa meal, order out, or cook. The aim is to make it a special meal in the way you determine.




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