Kuelekea Nadharia Ujamaa Mawasiliano: Toward a Familyhood Communication Theory
Using a qualitative explanatory case study approach, this chapter develops a communication theory of Ujamaa (i.e., the African notion of “extended family” or “familyhood”) based on the communicative theoretical postulates and praxes of the philosophy. While previous ideological or philosophical studies on Ujamaa can be said to include a communicative theoretical approach in a broader sense vis-à-vis both the analytical framework and the public policies deriving from the ideology, they do not, however, provide a technique for a systematic theoretical investigation of Ujamaa-type communication. Thus, as the first scholarly work to proffer a theoretical approach that can be used to systematically investigate Ujamaa-type communication, the chapter entails discussions of the origins of Ujamaa discourse, details of the postulates of the theory, the assumptions of the theory, examples of how Ujamaa-type communication has been employed, summary and conclusion, and limitations of the theory. Employing Ujamaa in Kanga (a colorful cloth), Ujamaa in Tanzanian Hip-Hop music, and Ujamaa in the African American Kwanzaa celebration as examples of communicative vehicles, it is demonstrated in the chapter that Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere’s political ideology or philosophy of Ujamaa is manifested in written literature, oral narratives, and clothing such as the kanga. One might say that Nyerere integrated an idealistic communication framework to the very real and problematic situation of Tanzania in order to pose the question of “what ought to be?” rather than the realist viewpoint of “what is?” and then applied his findings to develop practical improvements. This type of reasoning was clearly the basis for Nyerere’s profound belief in and advancement of Africancentric philosophies in order to repair the foundation of Tanzania’s political, social and economic structures. The ideals of socialism, nationalism, and Pan-Africanism were therefore emphasized and ingrained in policies and discourse in order to unify the Tanzanian people.
This chapter benefited from the research of my former University of Virginia student Jessica Jeanty, who went on to receive her juris doctorate from William and Mary School of Law and is now an Attorney at Law and Civil Rights Investigator at the US Department of Labor.
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