I received this as a forwarded email from a friend who called it very profound. I agree.
“An anthropologist studying the habits and customs of an African tribe found himself surrounded by children most days. So he decided to play a little game with them. He managed to get candy from the nearest town and put it all in a decorated basket, at the foot of a tree.
Then he called the children and suggested they play a game. When the anthropologist said “now”, the children had to run to the tree and the first one to get there could have all the candy to him/herself.
So the children all lined up waiting for the signal. When the anthropologist said “now”, all of the children took each other by the hand ran together towards the tree. They all arrived at the same time divided up the candy, sat down and began to happily munch away.
The anthropologist went over to them and asked why they had all run together when any one of them could have had the candy all to himself/herself.
The children responded: “Ubuntu. How could any one of us be happy if all the others were sad?”
Ubuntu is a philosophy of African tribes that can be summed up as “I am what I am because of who we all are.”
Bishop Desmond Tutu gave this explanation in 2008 :
“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.”
I am one of the blessed ones. I think that I belong to a tribe of family and friends. I cannot think of any one of those members of the tribe who are not deeply rooted in the value of ubuntu. In practical terms, the sheer volume of help that I have received from the tribe is mind boggling.
On the other hand, I know why my friend sent me this forward. His tribe, one glorified in all literature of all times for their sense of brotherhood, the armed forces, has let him down in a big way thanks to the machinations of a few rotten apples. When I came to know about that particular aberration, I opined that the rotten apples will pay a price for their misdeeds. I also told him that he was lucky that he is alive as the situation could have well resulted in his being bumped off by the rotten apples and his response was typical. “Yes, I am lucky that I am alive, but the rotten apples are flourishing and may indeed have to wait for their next incarnation to pay the price for this life’s misdeeds.” How true!