Recently, we came across the term “Ubuntu”. It was a defining and inspiring moment for us. It reveals another aspect of the wisdom of kindness.
Ubuntu is a word in the Bantu language of the Nguni tribe in Africa. In the broad sense of the word, it translates as humanity, human kindness. How I treat you defines me. I am not defined by what I have, but how I interact with you.
Ubuntu in the broader sense also refers to the awareness of our inherent connection with each other. It is akin to the ripple effect, that if one is rude to another, the rudeness will be passed on to the next person and will continue to escalate. It is so easy to observe in every day life.
Ubuntu is part of South Africa’s Interim Constitution created in 1993. “There is a need for understanding but not vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for Ubuntu but nor for victimization.”
Desmond Tutu wrote a wonderful definition for Ubuntu in his book No Future Without Forgiveness,
“Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being human. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, ‘Yu, u nobunto’; ‘Hey so-and-so has ubuntu.’ Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, ‘My humanity is inextricably bound up in yours.’ We belong in a bundle of life.”
Next time, you feel like insulting or getting even with anyone (no matter how much you think they deserve it), take a moment and think about Ubuntu. Is this how you want to be defined or branded?