27th November 2023

It is strange how sometimes separate conversations with friends and family link up!  A friend shared this cartoonist’s illustration of ubuntu with me:


Then, in a separate conversation, I was encouraged to look up Desmond Tutu’s descriptions of the concept of ubuntu: You cannot be human on your own. We are human only through relationship. We are made for this delicate network of interdependence. I need you in order for me to believe. I need for you to be you to the fullest. We are made for complementarity, to become fully human. Ubuntu says you are human because you participate in relationship. A person is a person through other persons.

It was suggested to me that a sense of our interconnectedness and common humanity is desperately needed in situations of conflict (e.g. Israel and Gaza). If principles of ubuntu are embraced as applying even to me and my enemy, surely this would help in finding the will to try to navigate through hatred and hurt towards alleviation of pain and suffering?

In her book “Slow Down, Show Up and Pray: Simple Shared Habits to Renew Wellbeing in Our Local Communities” Ruth Rice mentions a woman who had started coming to a Renew Wellbeing café (Nick Parsons’ Thought, 17 Nov 2023 has further information). Until finding the café, the woman sometimes didn’t hear her name spoken all week, outside the context of healthcare appointments. That story has stayed with me.

Maybe thinking on the concept of ubuntu will inspire us in our relationships with others, and in taking simple steps towards a world where acts of friendship can help to dispel loneliness.

Ruth Allen