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The H3O/Art of Life Blog

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Unity: The Message of Umoja

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

By Dr. Gloria Latimore-Peace

Presented by Omni Virtual University

"Umoja is the message

Got to get the message

The message to my Brothers and Sisters..."

"Umoja" ( from "The Seven Principles" Album)

The "Seven Principles"[1] Album was composed, arranged, and performed by Kwame Steve Cobb and his wife, Chavunduka, et al. "Umoja", a Swahili word for "unity", is the first Principle of the "Nguzo Saba", the "Black Value System", conceptualized by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, founder of "Kwanzaa".[2]

Although these "Seven Principles" are observed in relationship to"Kwanzaa", which is celebrated by African-Americans, their adoption into our daily lives is essential for many reasons. Principles matter for the same reason that "Unity" matters. Just as there can be no community without principles, i.e., values, there can be a community without unity.

This H30/ Art of Life Blog grew out of exchanges, during a Family Prayer Meeting. Our discussion became centered on what we could do to quell the epidemic of violence that continues to besiege the areas where "black-on-black" crime is the most rampant. With all respect due to Black people, I am reluctant to use the term "community" because my understanding of this concept goes beyond its superficial definition as "a group of related neighborhoods". This implies that a "community" can be constituted of people who have no more in common than the individuals or families that live in close proximity to each other. You don't have to be a Black person who resides in a majority White community to know that this is not the case.

The sociological definition, i.e, "a community is a group of people who share values", is more illuminating since it accurately depicts the nature of a community. Even so, there is an even more compelling reason for interrogating the use of "community", as it applies to Black people.

In the book by Useni Eugene Perkins, "Home Is Dirty Street: The Social Oppression of Black Children", Useni coins the term "ghettcolony". By combining the terms "ghetto"[3] and "colony"[4] to the area(s) where Black and poor people reside- which have variously been called ghetto/“inner city”/slums, etc.-he has told it like it is. No further distinction need be made.

A quick reflection on the thirteen American colonies--whose residents waged a war for Independence from the tyranny of external control by the British- should suffice nas a more precise description of colony but also as an undesirable place to live. We will be much better off united because "a house divided against itself shall not stand." (Matthew 12:25)

"Once upon a time we had our land, our culture, and our minds.

Surely, we had tribes. We all lived right there in Africa.

Things began to change. There were forces that divided us.

Spread throughout the world. We seem unsure about our heritage."

Umoja IS the message. Got to get the message. The message to my Brothers and Sisters!!! Umoja IS the message: A CALL FOR UNITY.

Recommended Viewing:

H30 Art of Life Recommended Listening

Recommended Reading

Ancestor Dr. Kenneth B. Clark. Dark Ghetto: Dilemmas of Social Power


[1] The 7 Principles are: Unity, Self Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose,Creativity, and Faith


2] To strive for and maintain UNITY in the Family, Community, Nation, and Race.

[3] "A ghetto, often the ghetto, is part of a city in which members of a "minority" group live , especially as a result of political, social, legal,environmental, or economic pressure."

[4] colony- a geographical area politically controlled by an external entity.

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