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The Secret Power Behind Community and Culture

Greta Ujima

Ujima, it’s a simple word that carries a significant amount of power. The principle is collective work and responsibility. It states that everyone has a role in the community. Also for those of us in Gye-Nyame tribe we also connect Ujima with the principle of Respect by way of the M-7. Imagine tribes of people that are actually working who realize what they are doing and why, who are aligned behind solving their own problems, not the problems someone else wants them to solve! In the context of community building, it is a tool used to help facilitate communication within groups. Ujima means that we understand that we are interconnected as a community and therefore have a shared responsibility for one another. It is collaboration, sharing, working together towards a common goal. Ujima also has an element of accountability where you make commitments to others about what you will do for them or for the community. You make promises and you keep them, because you are accountable to your community. In addition, Ujima means that each person has something unique to contribute to the community and therefore he should share his skills with others in order to build up the whole. The principle is one of partnership rather than domination. It emphasizes commitment instead of compliance. This principle also teaches us that we can only achieve our goals when we work together towards those ends rather than attempting to dominate over one another or control other people's actions. Here are some questions that those of you on the #NguzoSabaChallenge can wrestle with inyour journals...

What is your role in your tribe?

Do you feel like you are making a difference in your Tribe?

What are some of the problems that exist in the world that you would like to solve?

What is the most important thing about Ujima you have learned in the past year?

What could the next generation of African Americans do to ensure they don’t fall into the trap that our ancestors fell into?

What is one way you can improve your Ujima?

What's your favorite Ujima memory?

How do you empower people around you?

What is something you wish to achieve with your Tribe in your lifetime?

What is one thing you can do to improve your Tribe?

Here are 14 ways to unleash the true power of Ujima:

1. Commit to Ujima

 2. Appreciate others and yourself 

3. Share resources with your community 

4. Promote unity as a means to success 

5. Use your “we” voice 

6. Seek assistance from elders, experts, and specialists when needed 

7. Be accountable to those around you

8. Build unity among more people 

9. Encourage a spirit of togetherness and cooperation 

10. Focus on elimination of individual differences 

11. Work towards the common goal 

12. Think as one mind and act as one body 

13. Develop feelings of goodwill, love and respect for all members of the community 

14. Pay it forward so that other communities can benefit too

I’ve spent a great deal of time studying Ujima, reading and writing about it, teaching it to others. In the end, I learned something very important in regards to implementing Ujima. My original intentions for this project were noble, but I didn’t have anything concrete. Ujima is not just an abstract concept that can be taught externally. There must be buy-in from the people who will practice it. It must be a part of each person’s life for it to work at its full potential. It also doesn’t work smoothly if there is money involved or an opaque hierarchy with corporate management. It isn’t meant to be like this; rather, it is meant to be grassroots to its core with a flat structure that leads towards a more collective effort. It puts the community in control of its own destiny, not someone else. As you can see, Ujima is more than just “sharing” and “collective work;” it’s an ideology that promotes human connections, collaboration through shared responsibility, and brings people closer as they work together toward common goals.


Here is your proverb of the day:

"When a stiff-necked bull stands with its four legs planted firmly and refuses to move, you cannot make it go ahead only by pulling it by the reins and using your whip."

We included a Ujima word search today feel free to download it and find the words for today...



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