Posts Tagged ‘Xhosa’

We are all interconnected and we have responsibility for each other.

This was the interpretation of the Xhosa word, ubuntu, offered near the start of a short, inspiring interview with photographer Betty Press by NPR a few weeks ago.  Then I ran across this proverb.

An anthropologist proposed a game to African tribe kids. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits.  When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats.

When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: “UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”

Wow.., until I heard the NPR interview and came across this proverb, I had two impressions of ubuntu: (1) I Am Because We Are as the 2008 documentary film narrated, and produced by Madonna; and (2) as the computer operating system based on the Linux open source software.

I now know UBUNTU started long before the software company and that in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are.”  I just wonder how our society would respond  if our tribes lived as the proverb above suggests?

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