Ubuntu is a Bantu concept that forms the foundation of relations among Africans – well, most of them that live South of jangwa Sahara and still have some sense of who they really are (Utu). It is a Bantu ideology that conceptualizes the African philosophy of existence. It can be interpreted in several ways but the closest would be “a person is because of other persons”.
In Bantu philosophy, unlike in Western philosophy, the individual is not like a leaf dangling in the air, detached from the “shackles of societal belonging” and fiercely independent. The individual owes his existence to society. One acquires his humanity only through his society and associations therein. In other words, one exists only because others exist and can be defined only relative to those close to him. It is no wonder that south of the Sahara, there are no great “heroes” except for exceptional cases like of the mythical hero Luanda Magere and of course the famous Zulu warrior Chaka (pronounced Shaka). All achievements of the individual are seen as the achievements of his people. The individual is just an agent.
Unfortunately, the one thing that the West did not import from piny Jorotenge is Ubuntu. Apparently, gold, diamonds, cash crops and sons and daughters of the soil gave better returns. I keep thinking of how wonderful life on earth would be if all people embraced this way of life – that I am because you are and so your pain is my pain and my brothers’ troubles are my troubles.
However, I realise that human nature can and has been corrupted in so many ways and that it is unlikely that all people will embrace Ubuntu – sadly enough even in the motherland some have shed off Ubuntu and engaged in acts that have angered Chukwu (may be this is why people are still dying of hunger in the 21st century, just may be).
A first step towards Ubuntu could be to instill in all of us the idea that life is not linear, it is cyclical. What goes around comes around, maybe not in our lifetime but in the lifetime of our descendants – who incidentally, according to Ubuntu, are us.
Always keep in mind that: Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu (Zulu) – a person is a person through other persons.
So Kenya is having general elections later this year. So far the campaigns seem to be going on without much trouble, except in a few isolated cases. I am glad that the Kenyan political arena is showing the signs of democratic consolidation that are so vital in the quest for economic and social stability.
All I can say is may the best candidate/party win – and the best candidate should be the one that will guarantee all Kenyans a chance at a better life; faster economic growth, job creation and general improvement in the standards of living.
So the big news coming out of Africa right now is the case of the aid workers that kidnapped a bunch of Chadian children. Darfur has taken a back seat for now as Sarkozy rushed to Chad to have some of the accused released.
It is sad that in this day and age people still think that anything goes in Africa – from real old-school piracy off the coast of Somalia to taking of so many children out of the country with complete abandon of due process.
No doubt, a better life awaited the children in France. They would surely not live under the constant threat of hunger, disease or violent death from the many clashes that define the Chadian-Sudanese border. But this alone does not give foreigners a right to take away children to Europe to grant them a better life.
This case is a clear example of the age old way of solving Africa’s problems – running away from the problem. Africa’s most talented people who cannot stomach the endemic corruption and crumbling infrastructure run away, celebrities whisk children away in front of flashing cameras and in this latest example, poor African children were almost smuggled into Europe. Everybody seems to be eager to leave. But who will remain to repair the roads? Who will man the hospitals?
The children may not have been aware of what the aid workers were crafting, but I bet that some of their parents might have conspired with the aid workers to have their children taken to Europe where they would be guaranteed a more humane livelihood. Africans take risky boat rides every year in an attempt to reach European soil.
It is high time Africans of all ages came to the realisation that running away will not solve Africa’s problems. Instead, Africans should be bold enough to face the problems and provide solutions to them. Europe has not always been so rosy – at least relatively. It had its dark centuries, but Europeans did not run away. They faced the challenges, conquered them and then went ahead and conquered the rest of the world.
That said, remaining on the continent does not mean that we should not interact with non-Africans. On the contrary, we should have a complete thirst for what is going on beyond the continent. We should borrow as much as we can and be willing and bold enough to drop our own practices that are “backward.” We are not Africans because of our elaborate funeral rituals or spirit beliefs but because we are passionate and full of Ubuntu consciousness.
next time we shall be looking at the meaning of Ubuntu……