I am because we are !



The ubuntu principle

“Initially I tracked it down in KwaZuluNatal. At first in the manner of greeting. If you meet someone, you say: ‘Sawu bona’, which means: ‘I see you’. You return this greeting with: ‘Sikhona’ or ‘Here I am’. This is the ‘ubuntu’ culture, which can be found in the whole of southern Africa. Ubuntu comes from a Zulu proverb: ‘umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’ or ‘a human being only becomes a human being through other human beings’. We are who we are because we are seen, because the people around us respect and acknowledge us as a person.

The ‘I think therefore I am’ of Descartes is translated in Africa in: ‘I am because we are’. And seen in the light of development, you can say: ‘I become because we are’. It sounds like: ‘knowing and being known’, but this way of looking at people is essentially different from the way we do this in our Western society. In a South African schoolbook it is described as follows: ‘In fact it is impossible to translate the word Ubuntu. There are direct equivalents of this word in all African languages. The word means love, benevolence, altruistic, mercy, benign, respect, preserving one’s dignity – just to mention a few possible meanings. Only by ubuntu a human being could demonstrate to be ‘umuntu’, a person in the holistic sense of the word. The ultimate meaning of ubuntu lies in the ability to love the unlovable: an enemy who is shown good-heartedness, love and respect although he or she did not deserve it.”

“Is it still possible to preserve a school, or more precise the learning process, under these difficult circumstances? It certainly is, if you are convinced that you can learn from anyone. Therefore the extent in which teachers are able to organize knowledge and expertise for their pupils determines the quality of learning. Isn’t the boundary of what a person can learn always determined by what can be learnt from and learnt with others? Teachers that are able to look beyond their own boundaries open up a new world for their pupils. The one, who teaches you, is the broadening or the limitation of your own learning.

On the basis of which values do pupils give meaning to their acquired knowledge? From a social-constructivist point of view learning is a process in which the student builds up an internal representation of knowledge, based on personal experience. All human beings construct knowledge in their own way, in which they are strongly influenced by the reactions and views of the social environment. The weaker the social environment the more difficult it is to give meaning to knowledge. This is even more so when individuals become marginalized under circumstances of oppression or poverty. In a situation of social disintegration the question that remains is within which perspective personal experiences are placed.”

“Challenging the Wall. Towards a pedagogy of hope”. Teeffelen, Toine van et al. Bethlehem. 2007

Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a longer definition:  “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human.  Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.  We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

stim asta clar de cand incepem sa percepem in jurul nostru, la inceput pe ceilalti(mama,tata), apoi pe tine insuti…de cand vedem si stim ce vedem 🙂

still.somehow I am you


still.love the whole

3 thoughts on “I am because we are !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s