Animation: The Nguzo Saba - Seven Principles of Kwanzaa

yenu iwe
na heri!
[ kwahn-ZAH
YEH-noo EE-weh
nah heh-REE ]

Happy Kwanzaa!


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....... Practice the Principles of Kwanzaa, every day!

Day #3: December 28
Nguzo Saba Kwanzaa Principle #3

Ujima (oo-JEE-mah) 
Collective Work & Responsibility

"To build 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 and sustained.

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.
Practice Ujima every day!

Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga

SOURCE: "The African American Holiday of Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family Community & Culture"
Maulana Karenga, University of Sankore Press, Los Angeles, California, 1988, ISBN 0-943412-09-9

 | Umoja | Kujichagulia | Ujima | Ujamaa | Nia | Kuumba | Imani |

Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga

 | Siku ya Taamuli | Tamishi La Tutaonana |


Prema's Kwanzaa Web

Practice the Principles of Kwanzaa, every day!  

Kwanzaa yenu iwe na heri!
(kwahn-ZAH YEH-noo EE-weh nah heh-REE)
Happy Kwanzaa!
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