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Kwanzaa is an African American and pan-African seven-day cultural festival that is celebrated every December 26 to January 1. Like most festivals, Kwanzaa incorporates music as an essential element of its celebration. The purpose of Kwanzaa is to celebrate African American heritage, family and community.Each of the seven 2-minute segments of The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa focuses on the specific principle of that day/date, and sheds a bit of light on either the principle itself, or some element of the celebration. The goal of these segments is to introduce audiences to the celebration and encourage an understanding of inclusion and diverse perspectives.

The 4th day of Kwanzaa, Ujamaa or cooperative economics


Today, December 29th, we come to the fourth of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah-ah) which means cooperative economics. Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah-ah) calls upon the collective spirit of togetherness to build and maintain our own stores, shops and businesses, with the goal of profiting from these endeavors as a community.

The fourth candle in the Kinara (kee-NAH-rah) is lit, followed by a discussion of the principle. Dr. Maulana Karenga, founder of Kwanzaa, sums up the principle of Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah-ah) as “sharing wealth and work through a shared concern, care and responsibility for a new, more human and fulfilling future.”

Today, we focus on the Mkeka (em-KEH-kah) the straw mat on which the Kinara (kee-NAH-rah) centerpiece is arranged. The Mkeka (em-KEH-kah) represents the foundation for self-actualization or fulfillment of our talents and potentialities. Items placed on the Mkeka (em-KEH-kah) include Mazao (mah-ZAH-o) the crops which represent African harvest, bowls of fruits and vegetables, Muhindi (moo-HEEN-dee) or corn which represents children and the future, the Unity cup, and Zawadi (zah-WAH-dee), the gifts that represent commitments made and kept.

WXXI celebrates Kwanzaa and the principles that reflect and recommit to the collective achievement of a better life for our families, community and our people.