The Meaning of Ubuntu

The Meaning of Ubuntu

The philosophy of Ubuntu has its origin in the Southern reaches of Africa and encourages a spirit of cooperation between peoples of all colors and creeds. It is an ‘all for one and one for all’ principle and promotes mutual respect and understanding. Two of the greatest advocates of the Ubuntu philosophy are former South African President Nelson Mandela and former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.


Nelson Mandela on Ubuntu

In the video below Mandela speaks of the meaning of Ubuntu in an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation following his retirement from the Presidency. Mandela’s release from Robben Island prison after 27 years ushered in the end of South Africa’s oppressive Apartheid rule.

Desmond Tutu on Ubuntu

“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.”