What the West can learn from African Ubuntu philosophy


The Ubuntu African philosophy has been around for years and is one of the most basic philosophies in existence.  Most simply translated the philosophy is that of human kindness.  Two other common translations include human-ness and humanity towards others.  For those who practice this philosophy though, it means more than such a simple statement, it is the belief that a universal bond connects all of humanity into a network of sharing and caring.  It sounds like something that you learn in preschool but there is a reason they teach it there, human kindness is one of the first lessons in life that you need to learn.

Ubuntu is an idea that the African’s have been practicing for a very long time.  The term was originally used in 1846 in a book titled I-Testamente Enthsha by H.H. Hare but it took over 100 years for the term to become used around the world.  Just because that was the originating time of the phrase that we use to refer to the philosophy doesn’t change that it has been around for ages.  It is one of the most basic tenants of human philosophy.

Ubuntu philosophy quotes are probably the first place that you could start learning about the culture.  “I am what I am, because of who we all are” is the backbone of the philosophy.  We all become who we are not because of what is in ourselves but by those around us in our communities who raise us.  This is true, theories around the academic world support this and they needed hundreds of dollars of research money to find out what one of the oldest cultures in the world already knew.

“It is about ‘we’ working together as one.”  This means that a community needs every member to work together and no member is able to do the job completely without the other members.  The community is a team and it relies on itself.African Ubuntu Philosophy

Those who practice the African philosophy, Ubuntu have similar characteristics, ones that you can no longer find being taught in the bigger countries around the world.  Those who experience road rage, anger, and commit serious criminal acts can be saved from that way of life if they were raised by people who were friendly, considerate, and generous.  In the simplest explanation those who practice Ubuntu rarely if ever have problems with crime.

There are several different branches of the Ubuntu philosophy depending on where you are in Africa and who you are talking to.  They are all very similar because they come from the same goal of being a community but they will each have their own unique traits.  For example, the Malawi version of Ubuntu goes by uMuntu.

If you are looking to get some coaching philosophy to help you enrich your education or just your life Ubuntu is a great place to start.  It sets you up in a place to learn more, not just in school but from all of those around you.  A philosophy class on African Ubuntu philosophy can teach you a lot more about Ubuntu than can’t be covered in one article.

Many different Americans have started to take on the Ubuntu philosophy.  Former president Bill Clinton is a big philanthropist who believes in helping those around the world.  He claims that he gets a large part of his inspiration from the African philosophy.  Clinton is very clear that he believes that life is too short to spend making accomplishments that come at the expense of those elsewhere.

There is a great story taught in Ubuntu philosophy. A group of young boys was given  chance to race for a prize. They all grabbed hands and ran to the prize together.  When asked why they did this their answer was simple: “How can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”  This simple statement shows what is needed to change the world, a new ethic of sharing and caring.

By changing the way that we think towards the idea of Ubuntu and being kind and helping to those we meet we can slowly change the world around us and create a ripple effect. And by realizing that we live in a community and need to think communal instead of focusing on our own advancement we can start to create real bonds in our Western society agian.

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