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Ubuntu: I Am Because You Are

July 9, 2010

Let’s start our day with a beautiful thought, a beautiful philosophy which is desperately needed in today’s world which thrives on the maxim of Me, Myself and Me.

While watching one of the FIFA Worldcup games, I came across one of the commercial which was not selling anything, just giving a message- Tolerance, Respect, Friendship, Ubuntu–Say no to Racism. All the football players coming together and spreading the message. And as a curious person, I wanted to know what Ubuntu means. My first thought was-is it about the Linux based operating system Ubuntu? I still don’t know whether the commercial is run by FIFA or someone else, but I know the meaning of the word Ubuntu now.

Ubuntu is a philosophy or say it a way of life which believes in people’s allegiance to each other and world as a whole. It’s a classic African concept and the word itself comes from Bantu language. Here is what Ubuntu means:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a definition in a 1999 book

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has 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.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu further explained Ubuntu in 2008:

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:

A traveler 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?

A traveler 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? [Wiki]

It’s a beatiful philososphy and I hope the message spreads all across the world that we exist just because of the world, the people around us. We have to accept others even if they have different ideologies, color, race, religion, caste, language, nationalities etc. Others are part of us, part of our happiness, reason for ur existence. I am because you are! Africa has lot to offer to the world and Ubuntu is one of the philososphies we need to embrace and carry forward. Whoever wins the worldcup Spain or Netherlands, let’s hope the true winner from this worldcup be Ubuntu.

PS: Recently while going to airport in NewYork, I boarded a bus, unaware of the fact that the buses in NewYork don’t take paper money for fare, atleast that bus did not accept paper money. I got in the bus with not enough coins while I kept searching my pockets. One stranger offered to pay for me, I offered him $5 bill which I had but he refused to take and just said have a nice flight and left. That’s Ubuntu!

Filed under: Social Issues,Sports

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2 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Prasoon Diwakar » F&hellip  |  July 11, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    […] will take away more than memories and vuvuzelas from Africa, people will carry forward the idea of Ubuntu as well, that’s the hope. Finally, the beautiful game of football is the winner. Where […]

  • 2. Carla  |  February 21, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Hi, I loved the article and I couldn’t believe when I saw it illustrated by the picture of someone wearing the Brazilian colors and Brazilian wristband. Ubuntu is the most beautiful word I have learned, maybe ever.

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