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.