Each of the programmes within the Ujamaa Centre are structural and organisation responses to key aspects of our reality. Since our inception in 1989 we have tried to respond responsibly to our context. The seven programmes each respond to a particular aspect of our socio-theological analysis; however, they also overlap with each other, creating an integrity and coherence across the programmes.
Each of the programmes is given shape by our Core Purpose:
- Our core purpose is to mobilise, train, support and empower the poor, the working-class, and the marginalized. We work specifically with women, youth, people living with HIV/AIDS, and the unemployed. We work for the values of the kingdom of God and for a society in which all have abundant life (John 10:10).
- Where these values and commitments are shared by other religious communities, government, and civil society we collaborate and work together for social transformation.
- Our primary resources for this work are biblical and theological, making particular use of contextual Bible studies and the See, Judge and Act method. We work, wherever possible, in the languages of the local communities with whom we collaborate.
- We are committed to the ongoing cycle of action and reflection known as praxis.
This core purpose is given specificity by each of our Programmes, which include: Research and Pedagogy, Advocacy and Leadership Development, Women and Gender, Theology and Economic Justice, Solidarity with People Living with HIV and AIDS, Religion and Governance, Community-based Service-learning.
In addition to the above programmes, the Ujamaa Centre runs two Campaigns, the Tamar Campaign and the Worker Sunday Campaign.
Research and Pedagogy Programme
This programme addresses the issue of praxis. Praxis is a term which is used to claim that there should be an integral relationship between action and reflection. Praxis claims that action and reflection are two parts of a single process, and that all transformative work must include both. Without action, reflection is sterile, and without reflection, action is reaction. Praxis requires an ongoing relationship between action and reflection, enhancing our work in the Ujamaa Centre. The Research and Pedagogy Programme nurtures this praxis process.
The programme also addresses the issue of the Bible as a resource for social transformation. The Bible has been a neglected resource for social transformation, and yet its potential is substantial. Most of our people believe the Bible to be a significant and sacred resource. Building on this base, this programme seeks to develop ways of working with the Bible that are emancipatory and socially transformative.
Advocacy and Leadership Development Programme
This programme addresses a variety of issues - namely: ecumenical and church-based youth leadership support and training, undergraduate theology student development, clergy and lay leadership, lay preachers training and broad community and faith-based leadership. The development discourse in South Africa requires that communities participate effectively in their better life as is espoused by the ruling political party. From our Biblical tradition this notion of a better life exists and it is better demonstrated in John 10:10. By sharing Biblical and Theological Resources we create an enabling environment for our constituencies to participate actively in transformation their environment. The leadership-training component of the above programme focuses on different types of leadership drawing from scriptures and other developmental resources.
Women and Gender Programme
Despite more than a decade of liberation and substantial gains at the legal level in gender equality, gender violence remains endemic in our country. Indeed, it appears as if gender violence is on the increase, which may be a backlash against increased structural gender equality. There are worrying signs that macho male models are on the resurgence in the popular media.
The Ujamaa Centre is also acutely aware of the linkages between sexuality, gender, HIV and AIDS, and governance. These related elements must be addressed in a coherent and integrated manner (see Solidarity Programme for People Living with HIV and AIDS and the Religion and Governance Programme). Our integrated approach is receiving substantial attention from faith based organizations, civil society and local government structures, given the failure to significantly change attitudes and behaviour, both in South Africa and in the southern African region.
What is true for South Africa is also true of our region. We have already worked extensively with a range of regional and continental partners, and are committed to increasing this cooperation. We see tremendous opportunities to work through and with our funding partners, their regional offices and their associated projects. We have developed a number of projects and resources that are replicable in other contexts.
While this programme focuses on the victims/survivors of gender violence, most of whom are women and children, it also directly addresses the masculinities that our society constructs.
Unfortunately the church is not a safe site to talk about let alone deal with such concerns, for often the church reinforces cultural gender socializations. Therefore it is imperative to understand the constraints within the church, and other faith-based communities, and to find resources that can be used to make the church a force for transforming the damaging features of gender socialization.
Theology and Economic Justice Programme
Short Description: The programme is a product of the merger between Theology of Work and Economic Justice Programmes of Ujamaa Centre. Our intervention is both ideological and theological. The Programme analyzes socio-economic and political conditions in our communities and uses biblical and theological resources to respond to these socio-economic and political challenges. The programme critically analyzes economic globalization and its policies and the impact these policies have on the poor and the marginalized, who are primarily young people and women in rural areas. The methodological framework for social transformation is See, Judge, and Act. The See part is ideological, focusing on social analysis of our context from both an individual and a community perspective. The goal is a Truth of reality. The Judge part is theological, focusing on how our prophetic biblical and theological resources respond to our analysis of reality. The goal is a Truth of faith. The Act is practical, focusing on how we must act to change the analyzed reality in the light of our faith. The goal is a Truth of action.
Our projects involve the following:
Training For Transformation
Deals with unemployed youth and local and Foreign Job Seekers as well as organized youth like Young Christian Workers (YCW);
It analyzes socio-economic challenges like unemployment.
Prophets of God
Deals with the Clergy and African Initiated Churches (AIC's);
It analyzes the role of the church and call for Prophetic leadership.
Heroes of Labour
Deals with Working class workers;
It analyzes the Labour Relations Act/Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Constitution in relation to worker rights in the workplace.
God and Mammon
Deals with Christian businesses;
It analyzes the relationship between Christian ethics and business ethics.
Deals with Theology students at the University;
It analyzes theology of work and macro-economic policies in relation to the Bible.
Worker Sunday Campaign
This project encompasses and gives shape to all the projects;
It is a campaign about socio-economic justice and the role of the church in support of these initiatives.
Solidarity Programme for People Living with HIV and AIDS
2006 marks 25 years that the world first heard of HIV and AIDS. This programme is a strategic tool towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halting, and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS among women, men and children by 2015. Since then, HIV/AIDS has unfolded along a pattern we tend to see only in nightmares. It has spread further, faster and with more catastrophic long-term effects than any other disease. Its impact has become a devastating obstacle to the progress of humankind. In 25 short years, HIV/AIDS has gone from local obscurity to global emergency.
Working directly with People living with HIV at a regional level (Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana) is of paramount importance as it deals with stigma and discrimination. It challenges all parties involved to participate as equal partners in the struggle of curbing the spread of HIV. This approach opens new avenues where the voices of the People living with HIV and AIDS are heard and form part of the decision making processes that have direct impact on their lives. Their perspectives are needed to make sense of programmes, planning and policymaking for HIV prevention, care and treatment. Their engagement is the key to stamping out stigma and discrimination. Their voice is the surest way to sustain the passion and compassion we need to win against the pandemic. This situation calls for developing meaningful involvement and strengthening strategic networks and organizations of people living with HIV.
Yet, we also know that it is women and young people, through their creativity, resilience and strength, who have been at the vanguard of the struggle so far. Equally, we need to keep building up our partnerships with two other global communities that are indispensable to our struggle: young people and women.
This programme challenges the following facts that are frequently overlooked:
- HIV is a virus - not a moral condition.
- People living with HIV have rights and responsibilities, their voices need to heard.
- Stigma and discrimination must be challenged at all levels as it impacts on people differently as they are not experienced only in terms or HIV and AIDS, and our discriminations in terms of gender and nationality and sexual minorities and race and south north and north south remain fertile ground for a clever little virus like HIV to exploit.
- Unless we overcome poverty and inequality in every corner of the globe we will not overcome HIV and the cycle of human suffering will continue unabated.
If we take these things into account and respond and work together with all stakeholders, particularly in the region.
Religion and Governance Programme
Despite the fact that during the struggle for democracy in the SADACC region the church was in the forefront, soon after the dawn of democracy they retreated to their denominational conclaves with very little involvement in the public and political sphere. The democratic society faced with lack of participation and interest when it comes to matters of politics and governance. This is worse when we look at communities of faith. The Religion and Governance (RGP) a joint project of Ujaama Centre at the School of Religion and Theology and the Kwa-Zulu Natal Christian Council seeks to respond to this challenge. Its strategy is to capacitate religious leaders with the necessary knowledge and skills to participate in the building of democracy and good governance in the region. The programme uses Christian education as a resource for social transformation. The church has propagated itself through history to the present through rigorous Christian education programmes and theologies of transformation, but recently these resources have been neglected by the church. Most people in Africa believe in the teachings and beliefs of the church. This programme builds on this base and seeks to develop ways of using the teachings and theologies of the church to bring about social transformation especially with regard to politics democracy and governance which are vital issues in our region and continent as a whole.
This is an emerging programme within the Ujamaa Centre which seeks to provide a structural link between the Ujamaa Centre and the School of Religion and Theology. For many years now the Ujamaa Centre has worked with the School of Religion and Theology in various ways. This programme will establish more structured and systematic links with the School of Religion and Theology. The Ujamaa Centre will facilitate the ongoing engagement of theological students and students of religion with local communities, enabling students to learn from and with local communities in a structured and mentored approach. In this way, the community will impact directly on theological and religious formation and curriculum, and the resources of the University will be made available more directly to the communities in which students serve and learn.