No.. This post is not about the popular Linux version that we have all come to know and love. I came across a story online and thought that I might share it.
“An anthropologist proposed a game to African tribe kids. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever 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 had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?
Some of you reading this are probably already familiar with the term and the story. Whether mythical legend or fictional parable, it certainly has a point.
Africa was commonly known as “the Dark Continent”. This term probably was referred to by early European explorers, keen to claim, how inhospitable and mysterious the place was. Although, listening to the above mentioned story, you would probably think that Africa has it more figured out better than those of us in so called “1st world”countries.
I’m not delving into the intricacies of capitalism, communism, collectivism, individualism and whatever other kind of “ism” there is. This isn’t a debate about developing versus developed nation paradigms. The main idea here is that its extremely important that we don’t kid ourselves and look over the fact that most of us reading this, DO live in a dog eat dog kind of world which encourages individual achievement.
We’re so caught up in our daily battles and our journey up the ladder of success that we tend to forget the basic acts of human decency, kindness, generosity, etc; so much so, that a simple act is note worthy news.
Some of us have taken it upon themselves to do such acts as a form of publicity; to make a good name for themselves.
UBUNTU in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are”
It is a Zulu or Xhosa word, and a traditional African concept. It’s a term for humaneness, for caring, sharing and being in harmony with all of creation.
Such a stark contrast to our current culture anyway. Sometimes I get to the end of the day and realise I have just spent 99% of my day thinking about things related to just me and to be honest, it isn’t even as fulfilling or productive as it should be; given the amount of time devoted to it.
As usual, the bible has a few words to say about this too.
Better a bread crust shared in love, than a slab of prime rib served in hate: Proverbs 15:17
A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgement. Proverbs 18:1
The point here is that we extend our thinking and actions beyond our own worlds on a more regular basis and know that:
1. We aren’t an island unto ourselves, or a self-made man/woman – others have and will continue to help us get where we’re going; and
2. Any reward gained is much sweeter shared than gorged alone.
“Africans have a thing called ubuntu. It is about the essence of being human, it is part of the gift that Africa will give the world. It embraces hospitality, caring about others, being willing to go the extra mile for the sake of another. We believe that a person is a person through other persons, that my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours. When I dehumanize you, I inexorably dehumanize myself. The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms. Therefore you seek to work for the common good because your humanity comes into its own in community, in belonging.” — Archbishop Desmond Tutu
*Acknowledgements: Original image is the property of Susan Fassberg.
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