Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics :Legacy of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Pan-Africanism

2013: ReClaiming  : On this the fourth and middle day of Kwanzaa, we celebrate Ujamaa, Cooperative Economics. Let us strengthen our resolve to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together….

As we enter 2013 and come upon the middle passage of Kwanzaa in Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics, I can’t help but remember what was- in terms of real action and not just talking points and formalities in Dr. Nkrumah and many other great Pan-African leaders recognizing that the only true power of nations and a people are through cooperative economics, and that will be the ultimate in freedom for global Africans world wide. Unfortunately we have continued to lose our way as I hear more and more global Africans adamantly proclaim how they refuse to work with one another because it will be to their detriment, while not realizing that the inability to work with one another because of lack of trust and  regurgitated stereotypes that we willing and gladly spread on ourselves continues to justify and uphold our collective demise and stagnation in progress.

I was told the other day that we can’t do it alone, particularly when it comes to our creative arts, media etc., but I absolutely refuse to believe that considering that we have done it alone in the past and we continue to do it alone with the growth of the African film industry and the new found global desire and enthusiasm for African art, fashion , textiles and all things embodying African culture that we pretty much giveaway to others without upholding it with the utmost respect in recognizing our own legacy. Far too many of us refuse to see those achievements and the need to build on them because we are too busy chasing Hollywood dreams and White validation, while forgetting that those so called “White mainstream industries” where not built over night and that it took dedicated like minded people who believed in a dream through cooperative economics to manifest its success. So many Black Americans walk around talking about how Jewish people own Hollywood, completely bypassing the fact that they too had to fight their way in to have a seat at the table. Jews invested in themselves and took the idea of cooperative economics from ground up to the very top, so instead of being filled with complaints, misguided envy and woe is me coming of age rituals of Blackness, let’s reevaluate and reaffirm the foundation of what was started for us and by us that seems to be only stored in history books instead of our everyday life history’s present and future!

” His focus on Pan africanist Unity was the main cause of his break with the United Gold Coast Convention who had invited him to Ghana to transform their movement into a national political party and he saw the CPP that he formed with the slogan self government now as the vehicle for achieving African unity which was why on the most important day of our lives in Ghana the day of our independence he make his most important declaration of intent – ‘the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked with the total liberation of Africa’…The three all African peoples conferences that were organised after independence became the successor to the Manchester pan-africanist congress and were expected to lead us to fulfil his vision of African unity. The conferences were held in quick succession Accra in December 1958,Tunis in January 1960 and Cairo in March 1961…The delegates came from all over Africa, the Caribbean and the Diaspora and all people of African descent, the delegates included legitimate governments, revolutionary governments in waiting of non independent African countries, radical governments that were pushing and supporting the armed struggle for liberation and essentially anyone who was anyone in the Pan-Africanist movement…The initial conference organised by the eight independent African countries, Ghana, Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt focused on the themes of unity and solidarity as the key to the fight against colonialism and the economic domination after colonialism and called for the formation of Africa-wide organisations of trade unions, youth movements and the setting up of a permanent secretariat, a Bureau of Liberatory MovementNo independent African State today by itself has a chance to follow an independent course of economic development, and many of us who have tried to do this have been almost ruined or have had to return to the fold of the former colonial rulers. This position will not change unless we have a unified policy working at the continental level… We need a unified economic planning for Africa. Until the economic power of Africa is in our hands, the masses can have no real concern and no real interest for safeguarding our security, for ensuring the stability of our regimes, and for bending their strength to the fulfilment of our ends. With our united resources energies and talents, we have the means, as soon as we show the will, to transform the economic structures of our individual states from poverty to that of wealth, from inequality to the satisfaction of popular needs. Only on a continental basis shall we be able to plan the popular utilization of all our resources for the full development of our continent…” READ MORE

We will never survive as a group until we get into communities & not neighborhoods…A community is I control the police, the banks, the schools, the firefighters and I control the flow of the money…We’ve been so busy dealing with the hurt & pain & the misery & glamorizing a hand few that have made it, that we have never really looked at like they say your role model ..if you haven’t got a role model in your house then you should fall on ur knees & pray to God because something is wrong” #ItTakesAVillage…

We don’t have to wait for someone to greenlight our projects we can create our own intersections..we don’t just have to act in the sitcom, we can own the show & the network..we don’t have to be at the end of the line waiting for a hand out, we can be at the front giving a hand up..we don’t have to wait for somebody to give us 40 acres & a mule we can buy our own.. You can be born into a whole lot of a nightmare, but God can usher you into a dream” Tyler Perry

Before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began planning the Poor People’s Campaign in late 1967. King’s campaign addressed issues of economic justice and housing for poor people in the United States. He planned on lobbying for a $30 billion package that included a commitment to full employment and low-income housing. King’s dream of an “economic bill of rights” though, was never implemented….El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) founded the Pan-Africanist Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) before he was assassinated. Among other goals, the organization sought to restore the connection between African and Afro-Americans by providing domestic financing in order to help newly established African nations…With these stories told, I notice a trend. America isn’t concerned with the individual prosperity among members of the lower class…The teachings of collective economics and Pan-Africanism have lead to the assassination of two of our greatest modern day black leaders! I began to think, “there are no blacks that are truly in the ruling class, huh?” Yes, we have the Oprahs, Robert Johnsons, and Michael Jordans, but by comparison, WE as a people, are POOR…In order to oppress blacks and poor people, the establishment got us to feed into the very idea that is oppressing us – free market capitalism. In our century, most of our social ills aren’t as much a product of racism, as they are of economics…”READ MORE

As 2013 rolls around, I really want to be done with the same ol’ BS from Black America blaming everything and everyone but ourselves for the condition of our conditioning. If Black America continues to ingest the idea that their only history with America started at the point of slavery then you have none but yourselves to blame for your generations over who were complicit in continuing to sell you the danger of  that single story which you have held up as your end all and be all in inferiority.  As Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie  “said  “Show a people as 1 thing, as only 1 thing over & over again & that is what they become. Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story”. Yes your fellow Africans were complicit in selling our ancestors into slavery, but Kwame Nkrumah and others came generations later to help in ushering in a Civil Rights movement in America through African emancipation and offered reparations in the name of sankofa to come back home  to reclaim it if you so chose. If you choose to strip yourself completely of Africa to claim otherness that is your God given choice because as Marcus Garvey said “I have no desire to take all black people back to Africa; there are blacks who are no good here and will likewise be no good there. ..A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

Yes, many White people have been and are racists against Blacks, but like any group of people they take care of their own home first and are not as pre-occupied in your demise as they are occupied in their rise, whether you choose to belive it or not. If it is not the job of all the Black millionaires and billionaires in the world to fund your projects and your collective rise as you make them richer by buying and investing in their sneakers, clothes, music, films, energy drinks, TV shows and the plethora of things they hock to you as anyone else, then it is surely not any White person’s duty or perogative to do so for you. So many African-Americans walk around saying that White people have never given Black people anything – so why do you continue asking and thinking that anything is going to change now? At a time when the Black mecca of Chicago that boasts the first Black President in America is named the most murderous city in the country, America once again threatening its citizens with a fiscal cliff that will disproportionately effect more Black Americans, poor, unemployed and middle class, while secretly  spending millions in sending US troops into 35 nations in Africa for continued destabilization of the continent in the name of protection against terrorism ; Black people have nothing better to worry about and to bombard social media with other than whether 1 White man’s masturbatory obsession with his fantasies in Blackness and the controversies which he unabashedly takes pride in provoking has the right to see the light of day and to earn him millions in box office without Black approval. Our eyes always seem to be off the prize! As I hear this whole Django Unchained debates at nauseam, once again right before the Oscars -I would like to send out some Lil Kim lyrics to all who are so happily indulging in their own masturbation of pointless pontification of praises, opinions and  boycotts to nowhere “All that bullshit you kick, playa hatin from the sideline…Get your own shit, why you ridin mine? (uh-huh)“.

As Jesse Owens once said “The black fist is a meaningless symbol. … The only time the black fist has significance is when there’s money inside.”  It is really all about the Benjamins and you can choose to do whatever you wish with yours whether it is supoorting this film or not, but when you sit around pontificating on what and how White people do and don’t do for Black films instead of using your cooperative economics to do for self in freely giving of yourself to collaborative projects, supporting projects that are waiting to be made or already are out there and not calling out all those who you support in the Black community with your Benjamins to also give back to the collective in building and empowering our people -you completely lose me and I wish you would all stop that foolishness in 2013.

The idea of Black money is so significant in its double meaning be it in the idea of illicit money or the money spent in Black consumerism -all in all it is significant world wide and drives many economies world wide without ever truly driving Black people and communities world wide to rise out of poverty. “You get pots of black money that nobody sees, nobody has to account for, … you can do anything you like with. Mostly what happens with black money is people steal it because they can.” We don’t account for our consumerism and the amount of Black money being stolen from Africa to her diaspora, whether it be at the hands of corrupt individuals, governments, record labels, bad business dealings in cultural vultureism or our own ignorance as willing participants in our suffering as the preverbal have nots. We rather sit there in a continued cycle of “woe is me”,  while wondering without solution why we just can’t seem to get our shit together in our collective wealth that truly empowers and raises a new generation with much less suffering to endure. Cooperative Economics in the ultimate principle and foundation of Pan-Africanism is the only way, and the sooner we are able to accept that we need one another locally and globally to manifest this, the sooner we can reclaim our promised land and be the great people we were born to be- the chosen ones Made in Africa who set the foundation for humanity, science and economics! As James Baldwin said ,”Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”