Thursday, 20 February 2014

Ubuntu: The Single Most Important Word You Will Ever Learn

Ubuntu is an African word and quite possibly the most important word you will ever learn. It is not a person, or a place, it is a philosophy--a way of life. Ubuntu is often described as "I am who I am, because of who we are." In other words, it is through you, that I am a human being. From an ubuntu perspective, people should be caring, compassionate, empathetic, respectful, loving, and live in harmony with themselves, with others, and the environment.



As part of Michelle Wallace's Ubuntu Bloghop to celebrate her 3rd blogging anniversary, I'd like to share a video I came across while researching the Ubuntu philosophy. Chris Abani, is an award winning Nigerian author and in this video, he talks about humanity and the Ubuntu philosophy through the stories of some remarkable people. It's an uplifting talk, peppered with humor, heartbreak, and inspiration. 


Here are a couple quotes from the video that have stuck with me the last few days:

"What I've come to learn is that the world is never saved in grand messianic gestures, but in the simple accumulation of gentle, soft, almost invisible acts of compassion--everyday acts of compassion. In South Africa they have a phrase called ubuntu. Ubuntu comes out of a philosophy that says, the only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back at me." - Chris Abani

"You know, you can steel your heart against any kind of trouble, any kind of horror. But the simple act of kindness from a complete stranger will unstitch you." - Chris Abani when talking about his mother. 

If you have time, I recommend watching this video. And to Michelle, happy blogging anniversary my friend, and thank you for bringing this beautiful word Ubuntu, into my life. (((HUGS)))





55 comments:

  1. It's all the little things that add up, right Elise?

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  2. This better be good - 18 minutes of my life depend on it. Will comment after watching :P

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    1. What an incredible man - and what a damned softie I'm becoming... yes, it made me weep in parts, and laugh in others. Thank you for sharing :) - Ted is a great site indeed, but I said that a while back on my blog :P

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    2. I'm glad you liked the video. I've watched it three times and I bet I know what parts made you laugh! :P
      And I agree, Ted highlights some great speakers. :)

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  3. A little thing here and there can sure help at ones lair

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    1. Indeed they can,
      All you need is a helping hand.
      (:

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    1. As the saying goes, sometimes it's the little things that count.

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  5. Kindness from complete strangers is so touching.

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  6. Oooh - I'm going to listen to him on a podcast download while I'm making dinner - excellent. He looks larger than life! There's not enough kindness in this world and we need to work together to spread it far and wide! Great post.

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    1. You'll enjoy it Susan, Chris Abani is great. Enjoy dinner! (:

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  7. It's all these little things that can make a difference. Not just for the moment. But make a lasting difference in someone's life and in the world we live in.

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    1. You're right, and it's so easy to do...the little things. I wish more people could remember that.

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  8. I love those quotes up there.
    On New Year's Eve, I got some take out and got this big hug from a stranger on my way out because they knew I was going home alone. It really changed my perspective on this year. Just that one incredible and simply gesture. It was a great end to a year that wasn't so great, you know. :)

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    1. A simple act of kindness can be so powerful. It's not only the act, but also the thought behind the act, the idea that someone stopped everything to think of you when they didn't have to. I'm so glad you got that hug. Here, I'm giving you another (((((((HUG))))))) :)

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  9. Interesting philosophy. It sounds like The Golden Rule--do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Our world would change immensely if everyone in the world actually lived this principle.

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    1. It does sound like the GR, and a lot of cultures have similar philosophies, but this one for me sticks out because it's not just a set of rules but it engages our humanity directly. I don't know, it's hard for me to put my finger on it. But you're right, the world would be a better place if everyone started caring more about our humanity and those around us... wouldn't that be a sight.

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  10. I loved the talk Elise!
    You... me... a swing... a cupcake... a little singing bird... perfect! MWAH!

    I quote Boyd Varty: "In a more collective society, we realize from the inside that our own well being is deeply tied to the well being of others. Danger is shared. Pain is shared. Joy is shared. Achievement is shared. Houses are shared. Food is shared. Ubuntu asks us to open our hearts and to share,..." (check out this TED video on Hilary Melton-Butcher's blog)
    I look forward to the day when we'll have the opportunity to really sit on that swing with a cupcake... and share...
    Thank you for reaching out across cyberspace to share in the spirit of Ubuntu!
    ((((((HUGS))))))

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  11. I saw the Boyd Varty talk on Hilary's blog too and it was powerful. You quoted on of my favorite passages in his presentation too. I truly hope the future holds a swing and a cupcake for us to share, that would be amazing. Hugs right back at ya and thanks for hosting a great bloghop. :)

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  12. Hi Elise - so much good has come out of the Biafran War if we can look at videos such as the TED talk that Chris Abani gave ... and I'm so pleased you selected a different Ubuntu TED talk ..

    I was stunned by his reference to Rwanda and that marriage and rape were the same word until after the recent pillaging and genocide ...

    I recognised Chris' name ... but am so pleased I've found out more about him ... and learnt another aspect to Ubuntu ..

    And I'll add to Michelle's comment above - where Boyd Varty says he'd like to expand the definition 'to include the Cathedral of the Wild ..where we get to see the most beautiful parts of ourselves reflected back not only through other people, but we get to experience our humanity ... also through the creatures that are on this planet' - the Elvis clip showed this in a powerful sequence.

    Loved that you've given us another TED talk explaining Ubuntu ... through blogging I hope we've opened others eyes to more of the world and what it means ...

    Great post and I love the swing .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Chris had some powerful things to say, tackled difficult issues, and did it so well in this talk. And I agree about expanding the definition to include the 'cathedral of the wild,' I love that expression. So glad you enjoyed the video. :)

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  13. Great quotes that truly evoke the spirit of Ubuntu! It's so true about the overwhelming joy that kind strangers bring. Love the drawing of you and Michelle!

    Julie

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    1. Thank you. :) There is something truly special and powerful about kindness from a stranger.

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  14. Haven't time just now, will try and watch later. This Ubunto concept seems to be sweeping us bloggers and I hope we can spread it elsewhere.

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    1. So many silly things go viral over the internet, wouldn't it be great if the spirit of Ubuntu could... Hope you enjoy the video when you get the chance to watch it.

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  15. Chris Albani's quote is SO true. When you're not expecting it, kindness can melt your heart and turn on tears like a faucet. Great post, Elise. :)

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    1. I connected with his quote as well. I think that's why it's stuck with me since I saw the video. Thanks for stopping in Lexa. :)

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  16. This was interesting and the title struck me. Ubuntu is also an Operating System. :D

    This is good bit of information. I would never have thought to query the meaning. Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. I noticed that when I was reaching Ubuntu online and it was kinda frustrating, lol! :)

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  17. Those are such amazing quotes! I love this concept--definitely something good to remember, for myself, and to show to others!

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    1. I agree. Thanks for stopping in, Meradeth. :)

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  18. I LOVE those quotes. They're so true. I think we often take for granted how much the little things mean.

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    1. Sometimes all it takes is a a small act of kindness to make a terrible day seem a lot less terrible.

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  19. I've experienced kindness from complete strangers one day I was at risk to die. What I felt is beyond words, the whole experience. But yes, I learned a LOT about humanity. Little things are not that little in the eyes of the receiver. :)

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    1. People often don't realize the impact they have when they reach out to help, even in the smallest of ways. I'm glad you pulled through that experience with the help of people who care. (:

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  20. Indeed, those invisible acts of compassion. Sometimes intangible ideals that touch us in the most profound of ways. Rejoice, look around and embrace all the good on offer. If we look, we see it's right in front of us.

    Cute cartoon and yep, happy third blogging year to the adorable Michelle.

    Have a peaceful, hopeful weekend, Elise.

    Gary :)

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    1. I had a crazy weekend Gary, but it was filled with great folks who work hard to help others improve. :)

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  21. I watched this clip from Abani and was really moved, Elise. I quoted him in my post too!

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    1. Ooo, I'm off to come check it out! Thanks for stopping in, Corinne. :)

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    2. Corinne, I can't seem to connect to your blog. If you can, send me a direct link, I'd love to read your post! :)

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  22. I love your picture up there :) And those are some very moving quotes. I need to watch the vid but will have to come back to it later. Got a busy day today!

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    1. Hope you had a restful weekend and enjoyed the video. :)

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  23. LOVE your artwork! I firmly believe it's the "everyday acts of compassion" that make a difference--kindness has a way of rippling through the community in ways we may never realize. Cheers to the true spirits of Ubuntu!
    Ubuntu Spirit of the Blue
    Swallow

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    1. Thanks Sam. The spirit of Unbutu needs to become pandemic. =)

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  24. HI, Elise...

    Terrific quotes. So true... wonderful image. It speaks volumes...

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  25. Thank you Michael. That one word does speak volumes...

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  26. Elise, you are so cool in so many ways. Not only are you drop dead gorgeous, but you have the coolest heart and I love your humor and thoughts on life. What a great message here. Sometimes I wonder if people really do have it all together all the time... this is my goal (lol), to live an Ubuntu life all the time! :)

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    1. Bahhhh shucks, Morgan. ;) Ubuntu is a great message, and I can see parts of it in many different cultures and religions, the trick is getting everyone to embrace it and as you say, 'live an Ubuntu life.' HUGS!

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  27. It is the little things we do each day. Even something as simple as holding the door for someone who is loaded down with packages can turn that person's mood around.

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    1. Exactly! It's putting ourselves in other people's shoes for a while and trying to make life a little easier, no matter how small the gesture. (:

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  28. Great post, Elise.

    I work with a couple of wonderful Nigerian nurses. This made me think of them. :)

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  29. Compassion. Fellow feeling. They're more than words. But unless they are demonstrated BY actions from the heart, they are only words. Small actions, many times, but the impact of those actions are never small. It's these actions that make us human.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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  30. I love this so much for so many reasons! Ubuntu. I need to put that on the back of my eye lids. Ubuntu. I'm working on a play written by Eve Ensler this week... it opens Friday. I need to remember Ubuntu when I get frustrated with the actors (I'm stage managing.) I need to remember Ubuntu when I'm ecstatic with what I see. I need to remember... Ubuntu. Thank you and happy Blitz Day!!

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