Monday, October 6, 2008

Ubuntu: Movement of da people

When I think of random acts of kindness, I recall beautiful childhood memories when unexpected rainfall brought visitors to the house. They were not always known to us, often arbitrary people, taking shelter on my grandparent's porch while the rain passed. No permission needed. No one blinked an eye; it was the most natural thing in the world.

Thankfully, there are still places where such experiences are commonplace. After all, it's woven into our sinew, the need to give and receive and to really care. It's a basic part of who we are, isn't it? Such exchanges speak to love and simply being human.

Reclaiming humanity
The world is waking up to speedily reclaim what was rapidly becoming undervalued - our sense of community. Have you noticed how many movements are gaining momentum these days? As we read about the global slow food movement, do we heed the call to trash the quick-mix pasta sauces and cornmeal porridge in a microwave and swiftly return to savour rich aromas usually reserved for the Sunday table?

Some currently riding the wave in South Africa, the self-descriptive slow thought movement, and the moral regeneration movement, speak volumes about a growing need to redefine how we engage with one another, be it at home, at work or in our leisure spaces.

At one of the many Heritage Day events celebrated in South Africa on the September 24, the third Ubuntu Award was presented to retired Cuban President Fidel Castro. Created by South Africa's National Heritage Council, the annual award honours people who consistently embody humanitarian values which anchor the African philosophy of Ubuntu. Former President Nelson Mandela and Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda have also been recognised as beacons of ubuntu.

Ubuntu is notoriously difficult to explain in English without losing the nuance of the philosophy. Ubuntu principles are deeply rooted in a lifestyle framework where every person is knitted together in a behaviour code which upholds community and culture over individuality.

Essence of ubuntu
The essence of ubuntu emphasises hospitality, tolerance, appreciation and respect for one another. The spirit of Ubuntu is what anchors genuine acts of giving without asking, 'what's in it for me?'

What's in it for you and me is the chance to rescue our collective living values and reframe them in our everyday lives. It's an opportunity to move away from lifestyle trends that are fast eroding our soul. In placing humanity at the centre, we embrace the opportunity to revive harmonious relations with one another. So, yes, come join the Ubuntu movement where we chose 'we' over me, knowing that without you, I cannot be.

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