Ubuntu


By Sharon Andrew, Happiness Evangelist at Happiest Minds Technologies, Bangalore

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An anthropologist studying the customs of an African tribe decided to play a game with some children of the tribe who were with him. He put sweets into a basket and placed it at the foot of a tree.

When the anthropologist said “now”, the children had to run to the tree and the first one to get there could have all the sweets to herself/himself.

The children lined up waiting for the signal. When the anthropologist said “now”, they took each other by the hand and ran together towards the tree. They all arrived at the same time, divided the sweets amongst themselves and were happily munching away.

The anthropologist was intrigued. He went to them and asked why they had all run together when each could have had the sweets to herself/himself.

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 in his book No Future Without Forgiveness (1999) explains: 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.

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2 thoughts on “Ubuntu

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