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Ubuntu: School of wisdom

Ubuntu: the African philosophy of interdependence and solidarity

In recent times, the younger generations, faced with situations of injustice, hypocrisy, fraud, exploitation and corruption which are damaging relations especially between leaders and their people, between the north and the south, are asking themselves a thousand and a question. Waiting for the response from the actors of such a system which dehumanizes both those who apply it and those who suffer from it, the young people propose a way out: They ask the political decision-makers of the North as well as those of the South to go to the school of wisdom. Thus, we offer them the School of Ubuntu.

What is the deeper meaning of Ubuntu?

In the beginning was Ubuntu. Our species appeared around 100,000 years ago and homo sapiens has existed for 45,000 years, according to the prehistory. Science states that the evolution of the human species became possible because, throughout these millennia, our ancestors developed not only language and the art of cooperation, but also the art of interpreting intentions and the spirit of the other. We are therefore the fruit of this intuition developed by our ancestors.

Human being has in fact cultivated a behavior of humanity which is born from a deep feeling of identification or transfer of oneself to the other. What, in fact, is the common value to all human beings, on which we obscurely feel that all others depend, if not humanity? Everyone carries something unique within themselves, with the same thirst for life. From this feeling was born the art of living together through cooperation based on interdependence.

Human beings therefore naturally feel the desire to help the human species as if they were members of a single large family. It is as if from the beginning, the human family took seriously Kant’s proposition when he addressed in the modern world to those who organize social and political life: “Act in such a way as to always treat humanity, either in your person or in that of others, as a goal and never as a means”. This is why the human species has been able to evolve in time and space despite a thousand and one risks of extinction linked to the ferocity of nature and the force of evil which also inhabits human being.

It is this fiber which is transmitted from progenitor to descendant from the first Man – who himself had inherited it from his Author – and which vibrates in the consciousness of each person, reminding him that the other is not only his fellow man, but even more another himself by identification which we call: UBUNTU. It makes human beings, humans: This is the true nature of Man. It is also this nature which distinguishes the human living being from non-human living beings.

A human is therefore the person who is aware that he or she belongs to a Whole: the human family. Within this family, every member is made to cooperate with others, as Fall points out: “Half of our person belongs to us, and the other half to our loved ones”. Every member of the human family is thus called to live in solidarity with others in pure non-dominant interdependence. In this family, everyone is driven by a certainty: “I am because we are”. This is how the Xhosa culture of southern Africa defines Ubuntu.

It is this same certainty that pushes everyone to take care of the other, convinced that taking care of the other is taking care of ourselves because the other is a part of ourselves.

Other wisdoms will express the human nature of cooperation and interdependence through proverbs, sayings, prohibitions… Here are some of them:

  • The man alone cannot put the boat to sea (Tanzanian proverb)
  • Unity is strength (Belgian motto)
  • One hand can not clap itself (English proverb)
  • None is an iland (English proverb)
  • Tubiri tuvurana ubupfu – Two people complete each other (Burundian proverb)
  • Inyakamwe inyaga imwe – A loner only pillages one cow: Burundian proverb)
  • Ukuboko kumwe kuriyaga ntikwimara uburyi – One hand scratches but does not stop the itch (Burundian proverb)

In every Man, however, there are two antagonistic forces: the one which pushes Man towards solidarity and cooperation and the one which pushes him to withdraw into himself, to individualism. The first force makes every Man more human while the second makes him less human.


Spazio Spadoni

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