Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora
Seletta “Luna” Raven lives in Oakland, California. She is the woman and spirit behind Luna’s Kitchen Magic. In her own space, Luna shares the foods that resonate with herself and loved ones whom reap the benefits of her cooking. Today, she shares her views on Ujamaa, or cooperative economics.
My family has never celebrated Kwanzaa.
When I was asked to participate in Kwanzaa Culinarians, I asked if that was okay. I found out that it was just fine. Interestingly enough, my topic is the fourth principle of Kwanzaa, Ujamaa, which means cooperative economics. I just happened to finish up my three month class on becoming a female entrepreneur.
According to Wikipedia, Ujamaa comes from the Swahili word for extended family or family hood and is distinguished by several key characteristics, namely that a person becomes a person through the people or community. Ujamaa was the concept that formed the basis of Julius Nyereree’s social and economic development policies in Tanzania just after it gained independence from Britain in 1961. We can all get behind the principle of Ujamaa, because it celebrates the very best of human kind. By creating new small businesses and by supporting others in the community who do the same, we can honor the principle fully. We can mentor fellow entrepreneurs and help give birth to new ones by mentoring students. The idea of Ujamaa, or collaborative economics, is one that should be practiced daily in these bleak economic times. Instead of going for the cheaper product in big box stores we should be seeking out the crafts people, the artisans, those who create items that may cost a bit more, yet will last a lifetime.
Ujamaa is also about supporting businesses within the community that give back, that help the community grow stronger, wiser, more independent and allows for more growth. The trickle down effect of such actions would be tantamount to helping not only create new jobs but an entirely new economy. With that in mind, it seems appropriate to share a list of Black owned business’ here in the Bay Area that are doing their thing. Acclaimed Chef Tanya Holland keeps the food coming at Brown Sugar Kitchen. I recommend the shrimp and grits! Souley Vegan will surprise you and turn you out with their fantastic homemade gravy. Honestly as good as Mom’s! Hibicus innovative Caribbean-Creole dishes have made it a well talked about spot here in the town.
For a list of other African-American owned hot dining spots, check out Luna’s Kitchen Magic.