Ubuntu – an African philosophy about humanity and interconnectedness

Video

‘I am because we are and, since we are, therefore I am’

By: DAAF BORREN

The humanity, kindness and hospitality of the African people is probably best to describe through ‘Ubuntu.’ This is an African philosophy which emphasizes the importance of humanity, mutual trust and interconnectedness. The word ‘Ubuntu’ originates from the Bantu languages from Southern Africa and was often mentioned by political leaders during South Africa’s Apartheid, in order to underline the importance of consensus and solidarity.

This is how South African cleric and human rights-activist Desmond Tutu once described Ubuntu:

“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.”

“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.”

Added in this article, you will find two video’s. One in which South Africa’s Nelson Mandela shares his insights on Ubuntu, and one wherein former president of the United States, Barack Obama emphasizes the importance Ubuntu during the memorial of Nelson Mandela.

[DUTCH]

De menselijkheid en gastvrijheid van de Afrikaanse bevolking, is misschien wel het beste te beschrijven aan de hand van ‘Ubuntu.’ Dit is een Afrikaanse filosofie die draait om menselijkheid, wederzijds vertrouwen en verwevenheid. Het woord vindt haar oorsprong in de Bantoetalen uit Zuidelijk Afrika en werd gedurende en na de Apartheid in Zuid-Afrika regelmatig door politieke leiders aangehaald, om het belang van consensus te benadrukken.

Aartsbisschop Desmond Tutu beschreef Ubuntu als volgt:

“Iemand met ubuntu staat open voor en is toegankelijk voor anderen, wijdt zich aan anderen, voelt zich niet bedreigd door het kunnen van anderen omdat hij of zij genoeg zelfvertrouwen put uit de wetenschap dat hij of zij onderdeel is van een groter geheel en krimpt ineen wanneer anderen worden vernederd of wanneer anderen worden gemarteld of onderdrukt.”

In de bijgevoegde video’s is te zien hoe Nelson Mandela en Barack Obama de Afrikaanse filosofie uitleggen en gebruiken om het belang van saamhorigheid en openheid te benadrukken.

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