The power of Ujima: Collective Work & Responsibility in this crucial time.

You’ve heard all the messaging for the past 9 months saying, “We’re all in this together.” Although many of us doubt the sincerity of governmental decision makers, the message aligns perfectly with the third principle of Kwanza, Ujima. Ujima is about collective work and responsibility and nothing is more critical during this time of COVID 19 than working collaboratively to ensure the survival of our communities’ most vulnerable members; especially the elders, the infants, the homeless, the isolated, the incarcerated.

Adherence to Ujima requires us to look out for each other by making full and effective use of public health guidelines and practices regarding COVID 19. The principle compels us to donate generously to various charities that help members of the Black community. We are all experiencing tremendous socio-economic upheaval due to the virus itself as well as the lockdowns’ impact on our jobs and income. Time may be a resource you have to share. Reach out to your neighbour and find out how you can help them during these trying times. Ask your fellow worshiper in the church, temple and/or mosque, how they’re doing. With Ujima, their problems are not for them alone to carry, but yours too.

Ujima’s messaging of collective responsibility adds a cultural imperative to the public health guidelines for COVID safety. Without collective commitment and consistent practice of mask wearing, the chances of catching and/or transmitting the virus remain incredibly high. Commitment to Ujima should remove all doubt as to the seriousness with which one masks up, limits gatherings and only leaves the house when absolutely necessary. Unless we all decide to do public health safety things right, individual efforts will be for naught.

The sooner we can come together to flatten the second wave, the sooner we can come out of lockdown and experience Ujima together. -Dr. Akwatu Khenti