Friday, April 6, 2012

Ubuntu ... Do We Have It In Us?

Ubuntu sounds so much like many swear words in our mlulti lingual society. Sounds like buntut, pundek ... Are we all conditioned not to have ubuntu in our capitalistic, survival of the fittest, winner takes all, meritocracy only society???
Give me a Ubuntu society anytime. Naturally, its hard to just have unbuntu in the modern world, just that no matter how tiny the flicker of flame of ubuntu we all may have, just don't let it die out. If we can pass on "courage, survival, interpersonal, integrity" skill sets and values to our children, make sure you pass on the essence and beauty of ubuntu to your kids ... to be totally human and to live well.

An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they ran like that when one of them could have had all the fruits for himself, the kids responded: "UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?" UBUNTU in the Xhosa African culture means: I am because we are. 

Ubuntu (Zulu/Xhosa pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼú]English: /uˈbʊntuː/ oo-buun-too) or "uMunthu" (Chichewa) is an African ethic or humanist philosophyfocusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other. Some believe that ubuntu is a classical African philosophy or worldview[1]whereas others point out that the idea that ubuntu as a philosophy or worldview has developed in written sources in recent years.

Ubuntu: "I am what I am because of who we all are." (From a translation offered by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee.)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a definition in a 1999 book:[3]
A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.
Tutu further explained Ubuntu in 2008:[4]
One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.
Nelson Mandela explained Ubuntu as follows:[5]
A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn't have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?
Tim Jackson refers to Ubuntu as a philosophy that supports the changes he says are necessary to create a future that is economically and environmentally sustainable.[6]