To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
It makes sense that we follow the prioritization of Umoja (unity) in our last blog by highlighting the importance of self-determination. Again, here is the African concept of complementarity between seemingly opposite principles. We do not lose the individual within the collective, we do not abdicate the responsibilities and ownership of ourselves inside of unity with others. Rather, by being within the collective, we come to gain clarity on our place and purpose in this organization, community, or life. Again, the Nguni Bantu concept of Ubuntu is at play here. Ubuntu translates into “I am because we are.”
Kujichagulia, self-determination, as a value, underscores the importance of having agency, ownership, and accountability. Ownership in this sense does not suggest the private property notion held sacred under capitalism, but rather a deep sense of responsibility for your part of the battlefield. It sounds like “Don’t worry, count on me, I’ve got this covered.” By having “this covered,” there is a sense of autonomy, freedom, and determination. And in the final analysis, what do we have covered: ourselves, because that is the only thing that we can ultimately control.
For the leader, embracing and leading with the value of Kujichagulia allows us to nudge, guide, and free our people to seize their sense of determination while remaining connected through the spirit of Umoja (unity). Each of us is important and has the agency to become self-accountable and self-actualized within the folds of the collective. This is the individual self but the same holds for the collective self. We have an identity as an organization, family, and community. Kujichagulia applies at the macro level when we define, name, create and speak for ourselves as a collective instead of allowing or encouraging others to do it for us. Thus, the markets and industry don’t define what kind of organization we will create, we do ourselves. Social media doesn’t determine the kind of family we will build, we do it ourselves. The government doesn’t name the kind of community we will establish, we do ourselves.