By Aniobi John N.

Nelson Mandela once said; “Where people of goodwill get together and transcend their differences for the common good, peaceful and just solutions can be found even for those problems which seem most intractable”.
A French idiom goes thus: “Nous travaillon pour les autres, mais les autres travaillent pour nous” ; meaning we work for others and others work for us. This represents the worthiness, the need and the importance of working for others because others are actually at work for us.
We are there for others, and others are there for us. No man can do it alone. We can only “faire le bricolage” but we cannot do it alone. We cannot be our own carpenter, Doctor, lawyer, palm- wine taper, teacher and “le marchand” and so on….
We can only do a particular thing at a particular time and in a particular place.
There is a wonderful and very educative story of the parts of the bodies which explains the fact that we are made for each other. What happened? One day, several parts of the body started complaining that they do the whole work, but the stomach gets to have all the food channeled to it. The leg complained thus; we walk all day in search of what to eat, but after all the whole food goes down to the stomach. The hands said; what of us? We pick everything, even the food we place it in the mouth, and after, the stomach have them all after. The mouth and the teeth said the same; complaining on the work they do, only for the stomach to enjoy alone. So does all other part of the body. They decided, however, to go on strike and not to do anything. The first day, they started making jokes against the stomach, laughing and becoming very happy, that the stomach was becoming empty. The second day, they did the same. The third and fourth day, they began to realize something. They noticed that they were beginning to shrink also. The hands began to pant, the legs shivered, the eyes dimmed, and so all other parts started experiencing the difficulties of their actions. Then they called for meeting, and concluded that they are to start work again, because they noticed, they are dying gradually. Hence the adage” Nous travaillon pour les autres, mais les autres travaillent pour nous” which means we work for others and others work for us”.

Jimmy Carter in trying to present his opinion on common good stated; “Each of us must rededicate ourselves to serving the common good. We are a community. Our individual fates are linked; our futures intertwined; and if we act in that knowledge and in that spirit together, as the Bible says: “We can move mountains.”

We are meant to help one another. Your effort is made to develop others.
Ujamaa “familyhood’ in Swahili was the concept that formed the basis of Julius Nyerere’s social and economic development policies in Tanzania after it gained independence from Britain in 1961, most important part of society according to Ujamaa ideology was the community, the individual came secondary.
Furthermore, Ujamaa ideology promoted the importance of communal living and a change in economic practices with regards to agricultural development that fit in line with Ujamaa ideology.
Given to the Ideology, we can bear a profound witness that we are made to serve others. The community comes first, it means that we serve the need of others. This ideology tries to remove all forms of selfish attitudes towards life. Looking at the African predicament at the present, it’s bad economy, political instability, and growth in poverty rate. Above all, there is infrastructural instability. I strongly believe that African as a whole need once more to uphold to this ideology. I love the ideology because it is both biblical and socially acceptable. Jesus was very interested in what you do to your neighbour.
The African infrastructural predicament, the lack of the basic human needs, make it possible that we still need the help of others in our day to day activities and for our survival. You are not to lock your door on your neighbour. In a developed country where the basic needs of the people are met and the economy is greatly favorable to all and basic care for the citizens are taken care of individualism could be possible. This is because the basic human needs have been provided. Hardly will you see people beg for such basic needs as the government has provided those. People in such developed countries do not go around in search of places to charge their phones and neither do they beg for water nor for food. The governments of such nations usually have plans and policies for people of such and a lot of organizations funded by the government help to make sure there are no such people who “fair la manch” in a greater number in their society. Even at that, they still need the other because every week when there is premier league or champions league or the likes the stadium and other entertainment centres are filled up with spectators. This points to the fact that we still need the other person’s skill and ingenuity to survive and to gain fulfillment. Hence for your amusement, you need the other. And if you support any team, for example, you want them to come out in their best form. If not you may be disappointed by their 90 minutes effort.
Moreover, whatever we do should be for the benefit of all. In Africa, we still need one another greatly for basic survival. Your neighbour can come in any time begging for bread to eat. The poor African women sometimes needs to go to her neighbour to beg for basic food spices. So we should not deny such people these basic needs. If we shut our doors we shall all die off. Africans in trying to imitate the individualistic style of life of the others are experiencing difficulties. This is because your neighbour whom you fail to give the basic need and who does not know God will move in and steal it and that will put you in danger including fear, bodily harm and loss of joy in your home. The crime rate is on the rise. Everyone is afraid. We can change the status quo through helping others to live. Some people just need their daily bread, but the difficult situation has not given them the opportunity. Therefore, let us all work for common good. Let us all put hand together for the common good.
Think of a community where each person refuses to work together out of anger and selfishness, where some individuals think they work harder than others and therefore decide to abandon their usual service to others who work less. May be the palm wine tappers would say they would not tap again due to the fact that after tapping with great suffering some people who could not even climb a small tree would come to buy the drink with little sum of money. This may lead the palm wine tappers to dilute product with so much water in order to gain more money. By so doing they become inconsiderate. In the same vein, if the farmers say they are not farming again, the cobblers make such pronouncement regarding their jobs, the “merchands” say they would not be involved in trading, the doctors say no to work and other professionals in other sectors take similar decisions one can only imagine what the society will look like. You are made to serve others. A medical doctor stays for years to get the necessary knowledge. I do not think such effort is simply to make money. It is largely for service. A catholic priest stays donkey years in the seminary learning how to serve others, because a priest cannot but serve others.
The problem is that often we lose the insight of our major mission on earth. Such mission of service is natural. You cannot run away from it. Even if you feel that you would not serve others you have you children and your family to serve. So, you cannot run away from the call to service.
We have a one large human family and whatever we do we should know that it is just a way of helping towards building the human family. It is our share of divided labour. Knowing that our capacities are not the same, we are to help others. The French people will say “Les Chevres marche ensemble, mais elles n’ont pas le meme pris”. The goats walk together, but they are not of the same price.
Our capabilities are not the same. Some are strong, and others feeble. Some are intelligent, athletically made, but some have no such advantages or opportunities. Therefore, we are made to complement others within the context of humanity; each adding his quota towards making life easier for all.
However, to be able to achieve such knowledge and reach this realm of understanding of your mission to humanity we must always be in the rightful disposition to do good. We must cultivate the habit of doing good. Love to humanity is not only in giving. It is more about doing those little things that matter. It has to do with doing the right things always. It needs simple discipline. Let your activities be channeled towards doing the right thing and moreover the needful. Maintaining the moral, ethical discipline of your profession and eschewing selfishness which is the bane and killer of the common good. Selfishness is a deadly poison that truncates the ideology of Ujama. But selflessness is a booster, a lubricant towards fostering the spirit of brotherhood. The question you will ask yourself now is; what am I doing now to enhance the spirit of ujama, the brotherhood of the one large family the humanity? Moreover, if you do not know what to do, just plant a tree. In doing that you will provide oxygen for humanity. Whatever you are doing give it the best, have the disposition to do it well. Eschew every spirit of ” it doesn’t matter” “I can do it my own way”. You do not do it your own way. There are standard ways of doing things. One can add his individual ingenuity, but such ingenuity should be in the right disposition to put in the best for the common good. Hence, we should not translate everything to what we can gain in monetary terms. Irrespective of the reward you gain, whether big or small, do your job well. When you do your job well, knowing, acknowledging and enjoying the service you render to humanity you will definitely gain fulfillment and satisfaction. And people will always appreciate your good deeds. God will be happy with you.
Albert Schweitzer affirmed that to work for the common good is the greatest creed. Therefore, it is when we develop this selfless ideology that serves the common good that we can truly say that the ideology of Ujama will begin to bear fruit in Africa. Africa wake up and help yourselves!!!
I pray that the God who created the Africans will give us the wisdom and understanding that will expel the darkness and selfishness in our minds and cast the light of love and brotherhood that we may represent well what the Creators expectations for us are. Amen!!!

By Père Johannes Aniobi Nnamdi

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