On Thursday, Dec. 29, people across the African Diaspora celebrate the fourth day of Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration highlighting different principles bound in traditional African culture. 

Ujamaa is a commitment to the practice of shared social wealth and the work necessary to achieve it. Ujamaa grows out of the fundamental communal concept that social wealth belongs to the masses who created it, and that no one should have such an unequal amount of wealth that it gives them the capacity to impose exploitative relations on others.

In general, sharing wealth is another form of communitarian exchange, i.e., sharing and cooperating. But it is essential because, without the principle and practice of shared wealth, the social conditions for exploitation, oppression and inequality as well as deprivation and suffering are increased.

Ujamaa also stresses self-reliance in the building strengthening and controlling of the economics of our own community. The assumption here is that we must seize and maintain the initiative in all that is ours and that we must harness our resources and put them to the best possible use in the service of the community.

This is exactly what 90-year-old Ethel Bruce, known simply as “Nana” to local Ocean Hill residents, did. 

When she learned the church planned to sell clothes she’d cleared out her closet to donate, she decided to put them outside for anyone who might need them.

“When I came back outside, they were gone,” Bruce said. So she asked her daughter, “Can we get more things together?”

Bruce and her family went to their closets and started clearing them out: Shoes, clothes and children’s items. Whatever they put out, people took. Nana continued to restock with items donated by neighbors and friends. 

BK Reader spoke with Bruce in 2022 about self-reliance, harnessing resources and putting them to the best possible use in the service of the community. Bruce started her initiative at a time when an increasing number of her neighbors depended on others to help make things a little easier.

Take a look at the story here.

Today, think of ways you can financially support your community!

Beginning on Sunday, Dec. 26, and for the seven days of Kwanzaa, BK Reader will feature a different local resident or organization that exemplifies one of the seven principles!

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