Day #3: December 28
Kwanzaa Principle #3
Collective Work & Responsibility
and maintain our community together and to make our Brother's and
sister's problems, our problems and to solve them together."
The Third Principle is Ujima which is a commitment to active and
informed togetherness on matters of common interest. It is also
recognition and respect of the fact that without collective work
and struggle, progress is impossible and liberation unthinkable.
More over, the principle of Ujima supports the fundamental
assumption that African is not just an identity, but also a
destiny and duty, i.e., a responsibility. In other words, our
collective identity in the long run is a collective future. Thus,
there is a need and obligation for us as self-conscious and
committed people to shape our future with our own minds and hands
and share its hardships and benefits together.
Ujima, as principle and practice, also means that we accept the
fact that we are collectively responsible for our failures and
setbacks as well as our victories and achievements. And this holds
true not only on the national level, but also on the level of
family and organization or smaller units. Such a commitment
implies and encourages a vigorous capacity for self-criticism and
self-correction which is indispensable to our strength, defense
and development as a people.
The principle of collective work and responsibility also points to
the fact that African freedom is indivisible. It shelters the
assumption that as long as any African anywhere is oppressed,
exploited enslaved or wounded in any way in her or his humanity,
all African people are. It thus, rejects the possibility or
desirability of individual freedom in any unfree context: instead
it poses the need for struggle to create a context in which all
can be free. Moreover, Ujima rejects escapist and abstract
humanism and supports the humanism that begins with commitment to
and concern for the humans among whom we live and to whom we owe
our existence, i.e., our own people. In a word, real humanism
begins with accepting one's own humanity in the particular form in
which exchanges with others in the context of our common humanity.
It also posits that the liberation struggle to rescue and
reconstruct African history and humanity is a significant
contribution to overall struggle for human liberation.
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The lesson of of the Lovedu [a community in South Africa] is that
harmonious living, as with the Dinka, is of paramount importance.
Thus, being quarrelsome or contentious is one of the worse
offenses. And striving for uncoerced or free and willing agreement
is the model of behavior. Reconciliation of conflict is patient
and never coercive, and always done keeping the person in mind.
And the fundamental objective in conflict is not to mechanically
apply the rule but to reconcile the people. For they believe that
"if people do not agree, there can be no relationship" (40). And
if they have to be coerced, there cannot be genuine agreement, in
such a context collective work and responsibility is facilitated
Finally, collective work and responsibility can be seen in terms
of the challenge of culture and history. Work - both personal and
collective - is truly at the center of history and culture. It is
the fundamental activity by which we create ourselves, define and
develop ourselves and confirm ourselves in the process as both
persons and a people. And it is the way we create culture and make
history. It is for this reason, among others, that the Holocaust
of enslavement was so devastating. For not only did it destroy
tens of millions of lives, which is morally monstrous in itself,
but it also destroyed great cultural achievements, created
technological and cultural arrest and thus eroded and limited the
human possibility Africa offered the world. In fact, the effects
of this Holocaust are present even today both in terms of the
problems of the Continent and those of the Diaspora.
The challenge of history and culture then, is through collective
work and responsibility, to restore that which was damaged or
destroyed and to raise up and reconstruct that which was in ruins
as the ancient Egyptians taught. It is also to remember we are
each cultural representatives of our people and have no right to
misrepresent them, or willfully do less than is demanded of us by
our history and must accept and live the principle of shared or
collective work and responsibility in all things good, right and
beneficial to the community.