Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Pronounced oo-buun-too is a southern African philosophy focused on people's relationship to one another. Ubuntu: "I am what I am because of who we all are." (From a definition offered by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee.)

The following definitions and ideas are from Wikipedia:
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, based from 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.
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 traveller 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?
Tim Jackson refers to Ubuntu as a philosophy that supports the changes he says are necessary to create a future that is economically and environmentally sustainable.
Judge Colin Lamont expanded on the definition during his ruling on the hate speech trial of Julius Malema [8]: Ubuntu is recognised as being an important source of law within the context of strained or broken relationships amongst individuals or communities and as an aid for providing remedies which contribute towards more mutually acceptable remedies for the parties in such cases. Ubuntu is a concept which: to be contrasted with vengeance
2.dictates that a high value be placed on the life of a human being; inextricably linked to the values of and which places a high premium on dignity, compassion, humaneness and respect for humanity of another;
4.dictates a shift from confrontation to mediation and conciliation;
5.dictates good attitudes and shared concern;
6.favours the re-establishment of harmony in the relationship between parties and that such harmony should restore the dignity of the plaintiff without ruining the defendant;
7.favours restorative rather than retributive justice;
8.operates in a direction favouring reconciliation rather than estrangement of disputants; towards sensitising a disputant or a defendant in litigation to the hurtful impact of his actions to the other party and towards changing such conduct rather than merely punishing the disputant;
10.promotes mutual understanding rather than punishment;
11.favours face-to-face encounters of disputants with a view to facilitating differences being resolved rather than conflict and victory for the most powerful;
12.favours civility and civilised dialogue premised on mutual tolerance.

Today, UBUNTU hit me like a rock as I was reading over my notes and scribblings from the ILI trip. I am a leader because my parents are leaders because God has put a power inside of me that draws people and groups to me. I am a leader because others look at me as a leader and because I realize that I can not accomplish anything alone. I am a leader because I recognize the consequences of the decisions I make and the power of my influence...still working on harnessing my influence Anndrea! 

We are multiculturalists, we are global citizens, we are leaders. It is up to us to remain global to remain relevant. We have much to learn from other countries, citizens, governments and the way in which we settle disputes, make decisions, work with others, develop our communities affects much more than just us. How different would our lives and communities be if we used the UBUNTU concept as Judge Lamont dictated above?

These questions were asked of us in Peru:
How do we work in our diverse communities as Servant Leaders? How do we manage the different interests? How do you respond to what you don't know? How do you organize the chaos? and for goodness sake, How do you sit and stay in the uncomfortable?!

I plan to spend the next few months and years contemplating these questions with an UBUNTU mind frame. I hopefully will share them on this blog!

1 comment:

  1. trip sounds amazing. sounds like you learned quite a bit. i'm always interested in what's universal and what's not. ubuntu is definitely universal. a great way harness your influence.