The Ujamaa centre was initiated in 1985 as part of the School of Theology at the then University of Natal (currently known as UKZN). It is a non-partisan, non-denominational, Centre for Community Development and Research which supports capacity building on development, good governance on church and civil society levels through theological education to ensure rigorous praticipation of all citizens in social transformation. Here you will find The structure of Ujamaa.
The Ujamaa Centre is the ideological-theological product of various strands of liberation theology, particularly South African Black Theology and South African Contextual Theology. More specifically, the Ujamaa Centre is committed to working with communities of the poor, the working-class, and the marginalised, using the biblical and theological resources for social and individual transformation.
At the heart of the Ujamaa Centre is the concept and practice of praxis. Praxis involves an ongoing commitment to the cycle-spiral of action-and-reflection. This is central to our work. It is praxis that has enabled the Ujamaa Centre to respond to the ongoing and changing realities of South African and Southern African context. We try to respond faithfully to our context, using biblical and theological resources, and then we carefully (and formally) reflect on what we have done and how we have done it. It is praxis that keep us connected both to the community and the academy.
The Ujamaa Centre brings together two previously separate organizations, namely the Institute for the Study of the Bible (ISB) and the House of Studies for Worker Ministry. We have worked to bring about transformation since the late 1980s, allowing our work to be constituted by the contextual realities of our changing context.
Given the deeply religious nature of our context and the importance of biblical and theological among our peoples, the Ujamaa Centre works prophetically with the Bible and theological resources to bring about liberation and abundant life for all (John 10:10). We believe, as Jesus taught his disciples, that the kingdom of God must come on earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-13). We recognize that the Bible has an ambiguous presence in South Africa (and the African continent as a whole) and so we are committed to working with it from the perspective of the poor, the working-class, and the marginalized. Read more about Our commitments.
Our primary concern are those sinful structures which trap and keep people oppressed and marginalized, including: economic systems which maintain a rich elite and leave the masses in poverty; patriarchal systems which sustain male privilege and power and keep women subservient and subject to various forms of gendered abuse; residual racial systems which maintain white privilege, particularly in the private sector; hierarchical systems which enable a few to exercise control over the many, especially in the churches; cultural systems which stigmatise and discriminate against those who are HIV-positive and those who are striving to live positively with HIV and AIDS; governmental systems that fail to deliver the rich resources of our country to those in need; and ecclesial systems that fail to engage prophetically with the systems mentioned above.