Ubuntu is dying slowly

Dear Editor,

IN his attitude towards the proclamation of cherishing both the African person and the African community at large, a young South African poet known as Sky_POET once said: “Just as charity begins at home, Ubuntu begins with me”. On the other hand, Dr. Bernard Matolino, an academician and philosopher of the African Kraal, once said: “I accept that the community is important in the formation of a social identity. Such a social identity is important for the function of an individual person as a member of this or that social group as well as a member of the different groups in society.”

The contemporary epoch has introduced a kind of life that seeks to disvalue and discourage the spirit of Ubuntu in the African society. Arising is another ‘pandemic’ which attempts to collapse the African traditional maxim; ‘Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu’. It would be irrelevant of me to exclude the fact that this maxim has been ignored, be it directly or indirectly within the African continent itself. The domination of egotism is real. Nowadays’ social media has introduced a new maxim which unfortunately replaces Ubuntu, namely; ‘mind your business’ or ‘stay in your lane’.

I am personally cognizant of the usage of this phrase. Although it may imply that individuals should not interfere others’ businesses or affairs, but the common usage has gone into the extent of self-sufficiency, self-centeredness forgetting the ‘I-thou relationship’. This is why the notion of ‘me-myself-and-I’ is a trending concept of our time. The ‘otherness’ reality is lost.  As a result, ethnocentrism is definitely becoming famous in many communities within the African continent. Seemingly, the current increasing social issues like; abortion, abuse, depression, suicide, killing and the like result in failure of realising how sacred and precious life is. We are currently faced with the most horrible and terrible incidents that take place daily in our communities. Fear and insecurity have become our daily bread.

While we are confused by the Covid-19 that seems to have come to butcher and slaughter humanity, we, on the other hand are worried and saddened by the most shocking behaviours of rape, gender based violence, human trafficking and all other immoralities that are reported now and then by media. Where have we gone wrong in Africa? Have we forgotten that simunye (we are one)? Where have we lost it?

Let us all awake and restore the dignity of humanity and Africanity. I suggest that we start a #Simunye as from today for a period of 30 days. In our attempt to restore human dignity and values of humanness, it would be rational yet important to recall and revisit Ubuntu in order to triumph in this activity. Let us give it a name, call it ‘ubuntu therapeutic mission’: since this mutual concern heals and restores the health of African society.

Accordingly, in defence of the African dignity and identity, I would like us to remember a few things which would aid us in our work of restoring oneness in our land. The notion of Ubuntu is indeed the authentic African ethical concept which defines the life of Africans. I believe that, an African who lacks Ubuntu is like a so called ‘virtuous’ person who lacks the virtue of love. And that would be a seriously embarrassing contradiction.

To baptise and Christianise this view, I would like us to apply the Pauline perspective which is the use of the analogy of body and body members (parts) that work interdependently for the benefit of the entire body. These body parts constitute the body. Hence, we cannot speak of the body unless we speak of individual body parts that constitute it. Consequently, we as African community let us recall the purpose of life and remorse the destruction and recognise the construction of our communities. Bathopele (People first). Working together we can do more. I thank you.

Dzinisa Ngcongo, Windhoek.