08 December 2003


[Taken from ivow.net]
"Ubuntu is a Zulu word. It articulates a world view, or vision of humanity. Ubuntu regards humanity as an integral part of eco-systems that lead to a communal responsibility to sustain life. Human value is based on social, cultural and spiritual criteria. Natural resources are shared on principle of equity among and between generations.

The South African Governmental White Paper on Welfare officially recognises Ubuntu as:

"The principle of caring for each other's well-being...and a spirit of mutual support...Each individual's humanity is ideally expressed through his or her relationship with others and theirs in turn through a recognition of the individual's humanity. Ubuntu means that people are people through other people. It also acknowledges both the rights and the responsibilities of every citizen in promoting individual and societal well-being" (Government Gazette, 02/02/1996, No.16943, p.18, paragraph 18).

This a unifying vision or world view is best expressed in the Zulu maxim:

umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu

The phrase can be translated as :

"a person is a person through other persons."

Or: "I am what I am because of you."*"
[Taken from ivow.net]

Zulu: umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu
English: I am what I am because of you
Sesotho: Motho ke motho ka batho.

Zulu and Sesotho are sister languages. They both belong to the Bantu family. Make no mistake however--they are not dialects. Unless you consider French and Spanish, or English and German, dialects. Read the Zulu, then the Sesotho, then the Zulu. See why they're considered sibling languages? They feel the same and roll the same way, yet they're different.

Another striking example (because you're aware of it, otherwise there're tons of them) of this sibling language phenomenon is the phrase used in Disney's "Lion King", Hakuna Matata. It's a Swahili phrase that literally translates into I have no problems.

Swahili: Hakuna matata
English: No problem
Sesotho: Ha kena mathata.

I rest my case. Ehhh, what case was I making?

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