Kwanzaa is now observed as a national holiday by countless people in homes schools and public and private institutions across the United States.  Like African American History Month, Kwanzaa is a part of the cultural fabric of America and is a special time for African Americans to celebrate the joys of family and community, to African their humanity, to take inventory of what they have accomplished, beginning with the family and extending to the national African American community, and to recommit themselves to practicing the guiding principles of family and community- the Seven Principles.

UJIMA (00-GEE-MA) COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY: To build and maintain our community together and make our sister’s and brother’s problems our problems and solve them together.
The third principle encourages self-criticism and personal evaluation, as it relates to the common good of the family/community. Without collective work and struggle, progress is impossible. The family and the community must accept the reality that we are collectively responsible for our failures, as well as our victories and achievements. Discussions concerning each family member’s responsibility prove helpful in defining and achieving family goals.

The Ujima principle teaches each family member to recognize that their own well-being is derived from their family’s and community’s well being and that they must be concern with the overall health of their family and community; and that the lives of each family member and that of the community are bound together, and that the success of any one their lives is an aspect of and dependent on the goodness and health of the community as a whole;  and that finally, there can be no private accounting of the success or failure of their individual lives one by one. The community and the families which make up the community are responsible for the success and failure of the community in its totality.

Instruction: Explain and discuss the critical role collective work and responsibility plays in developing strong, safe and productive families and communities.

A bundle cannot be fastened with one hand.

Explanation: No man is completely self-sufficient.  We have need of each other.

Hunting on the Plains
Mang’oka and Ngwatũ went hunting on the plain.  After arriving, a fox ran into them.  Mang’oka ran and climbed up a tree. Ngwatũ was fat, and before he could climb up a tree the fox jumped and caused him to fall down.  He grabbed the fox and they started struggling until Ngwatũ fell down exhausted.  All this time Mang’oka was just watching from the tree without coming to help.  Ngwatũ was so tired, scratched, and hepless that finally the fox thought he was dead and left him.
 Soon Ngwatũ got up and ran towards home, leaving his tobacco container where he had been struggling with the fox.  Mang’oka, when he climbed down the tree, followed Ngwatũ and asked him, “Does the fox know you? Tell me what the fox told you before it left you sleeping.”
  Ngwatũ answered him saying, “Go for my tobacco container where I was struggling with the fox, and call and struggle with it yourself so that you can know what the fox told me.”

Moral of the Story: This story offers much to consider.  True friends don’t leave each other in the hour of need.  Keeping in sound physical condition can be helpful for survival in the jungle.  In addition, while Ngwatũ was trying to get back to his tobacco container, he also wanted his friend to learn from his experience.

Ga of Ghana Riddle:
 What do you look at with one eye, but never with two?
Answer: The inside of a bottle.

Significant Events

Underground Railroad
The system of receiving, concealing, and freeing blacks who escaped slavery is known as the Underground Railroad.  The “Railroad” started in the early 19th century and was made up of a tightly knit network of safe houses located at strategic points along the escape routes coming our of the South. African Americans who traveled the Underground Railroad referred to also as the “Freedom Train”, were escorted by a conductor, the person working secretly for the “Railroad” and managed the planned escapes. The Underground Rail road had complex, mathematical codes that allowed the “conductors” and “operators” to evade capture.
Instruction: Question and Answer
Discuss the Underground Railroad and its significance to African Americans.  How was the Underground Railroad an expression of the principle Collective Work and Responsibility? What lesson can be learned from the Underground Railroad? 

Kwanzaa Symbol

Learning Opportunity: Kwanzaa Symbol

Corn/Muhindi: Collective ownership of Children

Corn is a symbol which represents children.  In African Culture, children are viewed as the responsibility of every adult. This parenting model places emphasis on the social ties as well as the biological times of children. Therefore, adults share in the responsibility of raising children.

Kwanzaa Activities

Collective Work and Responsibility Day

 Candle Lighting: On the third day of Kwanzaa the family or classroom students light the green candle next to the black candle. This candle is symbolic of future success and achievement. Students, family members who put forth a strong effort toward studying and, learning will be successful and prosperous.

 Mentoring- Mentoring is one of best expressions of the Kwanzaa value Collective Work and Responsibility. Mentor a family member, classmate or friend during the course of the year or semester.

 Tutoring- Like mentoring, tutoring is a great example of Collective Work and Responsibility. Tutor a friend or classmate or family member.

 Problem Solving:  As a family, class or neighborhood, identify a problem or issue which needs address or resolved and work together to come up with a resolution.

 Collective Work and Responsibility Kwanzaa Commitment: Each family member or student declares opening declares what he/she will do to assist other family members or students with who may be experiencing problems or need help.


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