Third Day of Kwanzaa

The third principle of Kwanzaa is Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility. It’s built upon the power of working together.

Once we’re strong within ourselves, it’s time to work together for the good of our community and each other. And oh, how our nation and our world needs more of this value!

The square green, orange, purple, and yellow background showcases a purple rectangular design by Jeffrey St. Clair. The rectangle is anchored on the left by a square symbol in orange, green, yellow, and purple. Around it are the words: “The seven principles: Ujima: Collective work and responsibility. To build and maintain our community and work together to help one another.”
Image by, and courtesy of, Jeffrey St. Clair. See Credits below.

Rugged Individualism is an Illusion

In the United States we’ve been indoctrinated with the idea that anyone can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps — all on their own. But anyone who fancies himself to be a “self-made man” is fooling himself.

Why? Because we depend on infrastructure: roads, schools, grocery stores, reliable utilities . . . the list goes on and on. We may be oblivious to how much we depend on them, but one solid natural disaster (or, God forbid, the human-made kind) will quickly demonstrate our error.

And all of those are the result of collective action. They would not be possible without many people working together.

A large pair of orange quotation marks heads this square black quote-image. Centered are the white letters that say “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Below that near the bottom it says “Michael Jordan.” And at the very bottom it reads, “”
Courtesy of Gracious Quotes. See Credits below.

Collective Work is More Enduring

As the very wise and practical Professor Maathai points out in her quote below, “When you do it alone you run the risk that when you are no longer there nobody else will do it.” When more than one person has invested time, energy, and more importantly their heart in a project, it can become an ongoing legacy to future generations.

The top half of this square image on a textured green background is dominated by a photo of the late Prof. Wangari Maathai. In the upper left corner it says “People Daily.” Below Prof. Maathai’s photo it says, “I’m very conscious of the fact that you can’t do it alone. It’s teamwork. When you do it alone you run the risk that when you are no longer there nobody else will do it. – Prof. Wangari Maathai, Kenyan Environmental Activist.”
Courtesy of People Daily on Facebook and #PDQuotes. See Credits below.

What legacy in your community are you building by working together with others? How does Ujima express itself in your life?


Many thanks to Jeffrey St. Clair via LinkedIn’s SlideShare, for the nicely designed symbol image and “seven principles” slide. When I updated this post in 2023, I added more words to the original and found some much better quotations than I had in the original 2017 version. The new images are a quote from Michael Jordan courtesy of Gracous Quotes, and one from Wathari Maathai from People Daily on Facebook. I deeply appreciate both.