‘Ubuntu’ – I am because we are

'Ubuntu' - I am because we are

An anthropologist who had been studying the Xhosa people of Africa, was leaving to return home when he had a revealing experience, which he narrated.

While waiting for his ride, he decided to play a game with the little children who milled around him. He placed some sweets in a basket, and tied the basket under a tree a small distance away. He asked the children to play a game and run a race.

Upon his signal the children were to run to the tree and collect the sweets. Winner was to take all.

When he said “Go!” the kids ran towards each other and held hands, and together they ran off towards the tree. The untied the basket and happily shared the sweets amongst themselves.

The Anthropologist was pleasantly surprised. He asked the children to explain what they did and why?

A young girl simply replied: “How can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?”

The anthropologist was dumbfounded! For months and months he’d been studying the tribe, yet it was only now that he really understood their true essence…

 “Africans have a belief called Ubuntu (oo-boon-too, n.) which means, “I am because we are.” The individual is a part of the whole universe, a part of other people and all living things, and they cannot be treated separately.

For centuries, many people have considered the people of Africa backward. When one witnesses such great wisdom and humanity, it makes one wonder who really is backward?

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” ~ African Proverb

Source: “This is the Age of Ubuntu” from the noble Sikh Hari Singh. I am deeply grateful to my friend Bobby Basu for introducing me to the concept of Ubuntu. Written and posted: Oct 2017 by Gurvinder Singh


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