Presently, messages are springing up from around the world that promote the ‘I’ philosophy and while self-love is extremely important, it is key that we do not lose our sense of community. In fact, African societies have been known from time immemorial for looking out for everyone. It is a culture so deep that it is being studied as a philosophy globally.
You might have heard about it before and perhaps not thought much of it but let’s take a ride through it together – the Ubuntu philosophy.
Ubuntu is a term meaning "humanity". It is often translated as "I am because we are", or "humanity towards others" but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity."
In Nigeria, the Yorubas refer to it as Iwa and the Igbos call the philosophy Agwa. Whatever the tribe, the average African believes in rising by lifting others. The Ubuntu philosophy is a concept in which your sense of self is shaped by your relationships with other people.
Scholars believe that Ubuntu might serve as a counterweight to the rampant individualism that’s so pervasive in the contemporary world. Look around the world today, with the chaos brought about the pandemic and the economy, it will be a nice break to lift our heads up, open our eyes to really see other people and lend them a hand.
In practice, Ubuntu also means believing the common bonds within a group are more important than any individual arguments and divisions within it. As one scholar puts it, "People will debate, people will disagree; it's not like there are no tensions. It is about coming together and building a consensus around what affects the community. And once you have debated, then it is understood what is best for the community, and then you have to buy into that."
The year is still young and we can continually shift our perspectives. Everyone needs to feel seen and heard amidst all the global issues. You can start practicing Ubuntu in your corner today.