Saturday, October 20, 2007


Umuntu is the Zulu word for person, and bantu refers to people. The indigenous peoples of Southern Africa are Bantu tribes. There is a Zulu concept or philosophy of social responsibility that is exemplified by the traditional saying:

Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu

Which translated means "a person is a person through other people." The concept goes much deeper than that, however. Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has summed it up like this:
"Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, "Yu u nobuntu"; "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 caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours." ......... We say, "A person is a person through other persons." ..........A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has 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............What dehumanizes you inexorably dehumanizes me."

In helping the people who benefit from the Baby Pack Project, we participate in the spirit of Ubuntu, and contribute to the common good. We become part of the connectedness of humankind. For someone to say of us that we have Ubuntu is something to which we can aspire.

1 comment:

Michelle Rodriguez-Spillone said...

Great words from a wise & great teacher, leader and human being! Words never more true have been spoken so thoughtfully.