I have often lamented the fact that I went through undergrad and grad school (two times) and came out at the end of each process looking for a job. I’m not saying that seeking employment was equivalent to failure, but no job will provide the type of economic development that OUR communities need anywhere in the world.
Our communities are characterized by what Walter Rodney called “underdevelopment”. They have been exploited by the avarice white supremacy and capitalism. Many of us, stricken by the psycho-social malady that Kobi Kambon calls “cultural mis-orientation”, in addition to physical assaults, displacement, and structural change have been constrained in our ability to martial a collective response to this condition. Nonetheless, we know, just as our ancestors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries knew, that our collective fortunes, our ability to be self-sufficient, our ability to refine and defend ourselves and our culture is contingent on us controlling our economies.
Thus Ujamaa–cooperative economics–is and remains an imperative, one that we must model in our families, our educational institutions, our religious institutions, and in every space that we inhabit. This does not have to be an abstract affair. Growing food in a garden teaches us the importance of feeding ourselves on a larger scale. What’s more, it teaches the skills, that when scaled up, enable for us to cobble together a potential food system. Studying “alternative medicine”, creating programmatic and institutional models for promoting physical and mental well-being enables us to begin building a community-based health system, one that when networked to other systems–including allopathic systems with Black healthcare professionals–teaches us the value and necessity of caring for ourselves. Ultimately, whether we are focused on any of the six levels of institution building (as taught by the Council of Independent Black Institutions)–education, food, shelter, clothing, health care, and defense–we are engaged in the process of nationbuilding. This is what Ujamaa teaches. This is what it necessitates. Taking small steps now can lead to magnificent accomplishments in the future.
Heri za Kwanzaa Jamaa (Happy Kwanzaa Family)!