The third day of Kwanzaa we reflect on Ujima- Collective Work and Responsibility. This principle like the other Kwanzaa principles fit well together.
The first principle Umoja (Unity) is togetherness. The second principle Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) is the ability to stay focused. The third principle Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) emphasizes community working together as well as holding each other accountable.
Being unified is an excellent goal and it takes a lot of determination to work together to accomplish a task. With Collective Work and responsibility, we are on the path to building a transformative community.
As we work together in community unexpected things come up: new situations that require a new code of ethics or laws (i.e COVID-19), accidents, natural disasters, tragedies, etc. The problem arises when we don’t have standards of accountability.
We see a lack of collective work and responsibility in our community on many levels: Politics, Educational Systems, the business community and in religious institutions. As a result, we encounter a community that exists with a widening gap of the Have’s and the Have Not’s. Collective Work and Responsibility is defined by the founder of Kwanzaa as a way to: “To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers and sisters problems our problems and to solve them together.”
With Ujima there is an emphasis is on collaboration and shared responsibility for community development. Participating in community projects and volunteering to improve the local community is a way of life and not a one time or seasonal project.
Collective work and responsibility encompasses, justice. Justice is fairness and justice holds, people, communities, and institutions accountable. Holding people accountable appears to be confrontational but, holding others accountable is the most caring thing we can do in a community. Accountability makes our words have meaning and power.
The Abolition Movement, Women’s Suffrage Movement and the Civil Rights Movement were ultimately about addressing injustices and holding the powers that be accountable. It was through this accountability that God’s love would reign, and justice would flow like a mighty ocean.
Community problems and injustices exist when there is an absence of Collective Work and Responsibility.
As we reflect on the third principle of Kwanzaa, remember Ujima (Collective work and Responsibility) emphasizes: Collaboration, Responsibility and Service
Collaboration-working together to solve problems and to achieve common goals.
Responsibility-encourages individuals to take responsibility for the well-being of their community.
Service-promotes the idea that individuals should be actively involved in helping their community.
Let’s make sure we collaborate and work together, take responsibility for our actions and others, hold each other accountable and work together in helping our community.