Sindy Huang/Staff Photographer
Johnia Murray, a fourth year double majoring in psychology and French, looks at earrings from Mavazimazuri during Ujamaa Friday. Mavazimazura’s owner, Mapenzi Carroll, named the business after the Swahili word for “beautiful garment.”
Shawn Fredericks | Staff Writer
The African American Cultural Center (AACC) hosted the monthly event Ujamaa Fridays. This month’s theme, in conjunction with the theme for Black History Month, Reclaiming our Time, was Reclaiming Our Coins. The event was held in Witherspoon Student Center in the African American Cultural Center on February 23. Ujamaa Fridays seeks to offer students, faculty, staff and the local community the opportunity to purchase literature, NPHC paraphernalia, posters, art, clothing, jewelry, hair care and wellness products that reflect Pan African culture and history or entrepreneurship.
Ujamaa, which means cooperative economics, is the fourth principle of Kwanzaa. Cooperative economics is the building and maintaining of black businesses by African Americans investing in and profiting from those businesses.
Erin Elliott, a graduate intern at the AACC, said, “I oversee this initiative, so for me it solidifies the commitment we have at the Cultural Center to share the social wealth. This event is necessary for spotlighting black business. It gives black students the opportunity to learn and buy from local business and to a chance to see themselves reflected in entrepreneurship.”
Reflecting on the unique opportunity Ujamaa Fridays offers, Alonzo Fullenwilder, student coordinator of the AACC, said, “Ujamaa provides students, faculty, and staff, the opportunity to directly support black business. We have people who are selling African garb who can tell you the history of those items and the culture, the mission, and their brand’s focus.”
Vendors for Ujamaa Fridays brought items unique to Pan-African culture, such as hair care products for African American women. AYA ambassador Achaia Dent was overjoyed by the fact that she could buy these products.
“It’s lit,” Dent said. “I feel considered. Someone thought about me in the process. Someone thought about what I might need.”
Students are not the only beneficiaries of Ujamaa. The vendors also benefit—monetarily and personally.
Mapenzi Carroll, vendor for Mavazi Mazur, a fashion boutique, said, “One, it’s about people coming together and celebrating our culture through selling merchandise for our people. It means a lot. Our ancestors built this country. When we are invited to black events, it’s an honor.”
Additionally, Carroll gave students of color some advice about business and entrepreneurship.
“Learn all you can from black entrepreneurs. Don’t be a know-it-all, be a sponge, don’t give up,” Carroll said. “[There] may be some bumps in the road but it does not mean give up.”
For other vendors, they make the practice of cooperative economics part of their family business. Micka’il Brandon, a teenager and jewelry designer for Uzuri Designs, is following a family tradition.
“My grandfather was an entrepreneur,” Brandon said. “My family really supports what I do. Having their support really helps me do what I do.”
The event was held for several hours. People dropped in and out, buying various items until the event ended. Ujamaa Fridays are held every fourth Friday of each month in the AACC.
Vendors from this month’s Ujamaa Fridays:
The 7th Pearl
Jewelry & Hair Accessories
Hair & Skin Care
Jewelry & Scarves
Clothing, Accessories & Decor
Decor & Accessories
Clothing & Hats