Ubuntu's Meaning

  • 7 months ago
  • Source: ubuntufam.com
  • 189

Ubuntu is a Zulu phrase meaning "Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu", which literally means that a person is a person through other people. Ubuntu has its roots in humanist African philosophy, where the idea of community is one of the building blocks of society. Ubuntu is that nebulous concept of common humanity, oneness: humanity, you and me both.

Ubuntu is best known outside of Africa as a humanist philosophy associated with Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. One meaning of Ubuntu is correct behavior, but correct in this sense is defined by a person's relations with other people. Ubuntu refers to behaving well towards others or acting in ways that benefit the community. Such acts could be as simple as helping a stranger in need, or much more complex ways of relating with others. A person who behaves in these ways has ubuntu. He or she is a full person.

For some, Ubuntu is something akin to a soul force - an actual metaphysical connection shared between people and which helps us connect to each other. Ubuntu will push one toward selfless acts. During the era of decolonization, ubuntu was increasingly described as an African, humanist philosophy, Ubuntu in this sense is a way of thinking about what it means to be human, and how we, as humans, should behave towards others.