The Meaning of Ubuntu

I came across this lovely South African tradition:

“In certain regions of South Africa, when someone does something wrong, he/she is taken to the center of the village and for two days he/she is surrounded by his tribe, while they speak of all the good he/she has done. They believe that each person is good yet sometimes we make mistakes, which is really a cry for help. They unite in this ritual to encourage the person to reconnect with his true nature. The belief is that unity and affirmation have more power to change behavior than does shame and punishment. This is known as Ubuntu – humanity towards others.”

What I love about this ceremony are the following words: reconnect, unity and affirmation. We are a relationship species and our deepest level of feeling safe comes from being accepted by others. What a lovely tradition, focusing on the importance of social unity and generosity of spirit. In many ways we can incorporate this philosophy in our own relationships, focusing on the inherent good of a person so as to incline them towards their own inner spirit.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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6 thoughts on “The Meaning of Ubuntu”

  1. You’ve reminded me about this tradition. I had first read of it in a description of Afrocentric schools and was in awe of its humanity. I think we know that there are times in the counselling room that our job is to remind people of who they are, their own wisdom and resilience. There are flashes of it in our culture when we remind children or siblings,, “You’re not yourself”, “Rise above it”, “You’re better than this”. This might also be an example of the magical as an opportunity for scientific observation and study so Western culture can benefit.

    • I saw it originally as a meme and then looked it up on the internet to verify its meaning. So there really isn’t an original source.


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