ubuntu – a lesson from the children

“An anthropologist studying the habits and customs of an African tribe found himself surrounded by children most days. So he decided to play a little game with them. He managed to get candy from the nearest town and put it all in a decorated basket. at the foot of a tree.  Then he called the children and suggested they play the game. When the anthropologist said “now”, the children had to run to the tree and the first one to get there could have all the candy to him/herself.So the children all lined up waiting for the signal. When the anthropologist said “now”, all of the children took each other by the hand ran together towards the tree. They all arrived at the same time divided up the candy, sat down and began to happily munch away.The anthropologist went over to them and asked why they had all run together when any one of them could have had the candy all to themselves.  The children responded: “Ubuntu. How could any one of us be happy if all the others were sad?”Ubuntu is a philosophy of African tribes that can be summed up as “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

Bishop Desmond Tutu gave this explanation 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.”

— with Photo Rights: Susan Fassburg of ConnectingDotz.com.
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4 thoughts on “ubuntu – a lesson from the children

  1. If only we Western Christians could recognize the importance of interconnectedness instead of our focus on the individual! How wonderful and life-giving our churches would be.
    Thanks Morven, for sharing this word of encouragement.

  2. This reminds me of what Patricia Evans talks about (in “The Verbally Abusive Relationship”).
    In the abuser’s reality, his privileges and entitlements are all that matter.
    But the victim is looking for reciprocity.

    Privilege and entitlement mentality sits like oil over water, suffocating the desire for reciprocity that the partner has. Ubuntu is about reciprocity, but reciprocity only works when all parties agree to behave that way.

  3. Pingback: Ubuntu- “I am what I am because of who we all are” « Motivation, Inspiration and Life

  4. Pingback: Ubuntu | The Wicker Soul

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