Unity/Umoja: Commitment, duty, and responsibility to make every effort to promote and practice harmony and togetherness in the family, community, nation and race, minimizing behavior and actions which bring about and foster conflict and dissension.”
Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce the 7 Principles and reinforced the bonds of family and community. The Seven Principles were viewed and still remain the “moral minimum” set of values which African Americans need to strengthen and make more effective families and family systems. The values embedded in the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa are interlocking and align together and synergistically produce an outcome greater than each of the values isolated individually.
To be sure, the 7 Principles habitually default in duties and responsibilities. Duties are how the individual members of the family and community see their socio-ethical roles in relation to the interest and welfare of others, and responsibilities are the reciprocal obligations these members have to each other. As we discuss and present each of the principles, we will show their relational character to each other, and to family and neighborhood.
The Unity/Umoja principle see persons as embedded in a context of social relationships and interdependence (, Collective Work and Responsibility/Ujima, Cooperative Economic/Ujamaa). Consequently, it see the family and community not as a mere association of individuals persons whose interest and ends are subject to agreement only by chance, but as persons linked by interpersonal bonds, biological and non-biological, who consider themselves primarily members of a union or fellowship and who have common interest, goals and values. In brief, it is the notion of common interest, goals and values which differentiates a family and community from a mere association of individual persons.
Members of families and communities share goals and values, and have intellectual, ideological, as well as emotional attachment to these goals and values. Their intellectual understanding is embodied in the African maxim: “I am because we are and because we are, therefore, I am.” This shared understanding allows them to see their daily lives and fate as well as their life-chances intertwined in a web of mutuality.
And, this shared understanding is grounded in the affective bonds which tie family and community members together, aiding the harmonization of interest and goals. Working toward common interest and ends are the underpinning of Unity/Umoja. The story of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott is the narrative of African Americans working across class, gender, and religious difference to achieve the goal of a people united against the evils of racial segregation.
And still further, the principle of Unity/Umoja stresses the importance of affective bonds in developing and sustaining harmony and togetherness in the family. It is the emotional ties of the family which will keep it together and allow it to withstand the financial and social storms and unanticipated crisis that inevitably will occur. Therefore, it is the duty and responsibility of all family and community members to “do all they can in the way they can” to promote harmonious relations and actively work to diminish dissension and discord.
During Kwanzaa, families and others take inventory and discuss: what they have done to promote harmonious relations in the family and neighborhood (includes school and peers), how they have actively work to diminish dissension and discord, and what they will do (recommitment) in the coming year to employ the principle of Unity/Umoja in their daily lives in the context of the family and neighborhood.