What is the Essence of “Ubuntu” in Africa?

I love the continent of Africa!

I’ve had the pleasure of travelling to Kenya, Mozambique and twice to South Africa over the past 10 years. Every time I’m settled into the ambience of an African nation, I truly wish I could stay for good.

The countries I’ve visited swept me off my feet with its eclectic mix of cultures and traditions melted into one harmonious pot.

Africa

Africa

From my travels, one way to experience this eclectic mix is at an eatery. Imagine sitting at a restaurant, you are surrounded by nature inhabited by exotic animals, such as zebras and giraffes, nibbling on leaves.

You have a Portuguese meal and French wine in front of you to indulge in. As you settle into the evening with a full view of the most amazing sunset, a band of entertainers appear in front of you, dancing and singing with voices from heaven.

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

Another way is being driven in a Jeep, on safari with the most exotic landscape in front of you.

On safari with peers at Manyeleti Game Reserve, Johannesburg, South Africa

On safari with peers at Manyeleti Game Reserve, Johannesburg, South Africa

You whip out your camera to capture the most amazing sight as your eyes are spoiled with beautiful giraffes, elephants, zebras, hippopotamus and rhinoceros roaming freely in their habitat. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you may just see a pride of lions strolling by.

Zebras with the Nairobi skyline, Kenya

Zebras with the Nairobi skyline in the background, Kenya

Besides being a feast to the senses, I discovered that Africa has so much soul. The energy, warmth and passion in the people you meet differentiates the countries within the continent of Africa from any other nation I have been to around the globe.

Locals in Nampula, Mozambique

Locals in Nampula, Mozambique

The soul of Africa I fell in love with is what I discovered as Africa’s essence of “Ubuntu”. Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning “humanity to others” and that “I am what I am because of who we all are”.

Ubuntu is a philosophy and a way of life. It’s the notion of respect and selflessness; of caring and humility.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu

South African social rights activist and archbishop Desmond Tutu brilliantly describes Ubuntu as:

”It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is  inextricably bound up in yours.

I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness; it speaks about compassion

A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share.

Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole. 

They know that they are diminished when others are humiliated, diminished when others are oppressed, diminished when others are treated as if they were less than who they are.

The quality of Ubuntu gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

If you ever get the chance, do yourself a favour and visit Africa. Get swept up in the beautiful spirit of the people and you will come away with the essence of Ubuntu forever embedded into your heart.

Beyond the Pacific

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Amare Joji

    July 25, 2016

    Sawubona Beyond the Pacific. Your article took me right back to mama Africa. Ubuntu is all about I am because you are. Keep those articles coming. Your new fan from South Africa.

    • Reply

      Beyond the Pacific

      July 25, 2016

      Sawubona Amare! When I was in Cape Town, their hello was ‘molo’ so it’s nice to hear another version of the many ways to say hello in South Africa. I love the whole continent of Africa and will definitely be writing more about it. Have a wonderful day 🙂

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