Ubuntu and Donne


Ubuntu is observed during the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival in Clarksdale. Photo by DB

Ubuntu is observed during the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival in Clarksdale. Photo by DB

Ubuntu is the age-old African concept that portrays all people linked–past, present, and future. We are all connected and we rise and fall as one people. It strives for cooperation, harmony, and understanding between cultures, nations, and individuals

The concept is similar to what is seen in the tenor of Elizabethan poet John Donne’s poem “For Whom the Bell Tolls” taken from his Meditation XVII.

Donne wrote:

No man is an island, entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.

Nobody is completely self-sufficient. Whether we realize it or not, we are dependent and interdependent on one another. Ubuntu and Donne’s admonition in the non-extreme do not eradicate individuality. They just recognize that we all need each other in order to live successful and humane lives.

The principle of synergy, whereby the combined effect of two or more forces or agents is greater than the sum of their individual parts, serves as an example of how much more effective humans and our organizational creations can be if we will but work together, acknowledge and value our commonalities and our distinctions, and strive to make life better for all God’s creation.

W. J. Rayment said in response to Donne’s meditation, “Even though we all die a bit when someone else dies, the interconnectedness of humanity means that some part of us lives on even after we die.”

Our ancestors influenced us, we influence our descendants, and in the present, we influence one another. If in fact it does take a village to raise a child, then the villagers need to model Ubuntu to the next generation. Let’s strive for Ubuntu

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  1. Sue Bell says:

    You amuse me.

  2. Ben Crawford says:

    I thought Ubuntu was the Linux software I am getting ready to install on my new laptop I am going to purchase.

  3. Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a definition in a 1999 book:[3]

    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.

    source: wikipedia

  4. Isn’t Desmond a Tutwiler Native???

  5. Themba Zulu says:

    Ubuntu lies at the heart of the African way of life and impacts on every aspect of people’s well-being, Ubuntu is actually regarded as the soul force that drives almost every facet of societal life in African societies and that create the relationship between the African community

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