Meaning of the Word “Ubuntu”

Ubuntu is a word used by the Zulu tribes of South Africa and comes from their maxim ­– umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu. When translated this phrase conveys a deep meaningful statement that a person is regarded as a person because there are other persons. It expresses the African philosophy about life, which they describe as togetherness, solidarity and brotherliness. According to the philosophy of Ubuntu, an individual forms a harmonious component of society and it is here that he finds identity, strength and safety but again, society becomes invalid without the existence of the individual. Ubuntu considers humanity to be an integral element of our ecosystem and it is the responsibility of the community as a whole to sustain human life.

It recognizes the rights of each citizen for promoting societal and individual well-being and that our values are based on spiritual, cultural and social criterions. Since, Ubuntu refers to a common humanity; it also acknowledges the principle of justice and equity between and among various generations. This is a fundamental way of living in context of African culture and it recognizes the need of group activities and teamwork. It urges people of different race and hue to unify as one through mutual reciprocity and respect and reconciliation.

Ubuntu exemplifies a golden rule that people should treat others the way they would themselves like to be treated. This approach is a fundamental declaration of teamwork that the modern science of management puts so much emphasis. Thus, it is obvious that such cultural wisdom is valid in other parameters of life and particularly in the fields of management and teamwork principals. (Hudson, 2007)

Ubuntu is definitely more productive since it emphasizes on the association between a human being and the communal as a whole. It clearly articulates a unifying vision of humanity and of worldview. As it stems upon umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu meaning what I am is because of what you are, if I suffer you will suffer as well and if I am respected then you will be respected as well and vice versa.

Thus, the philosophy of Ubuntu is not only productive but also extremely fair and just. Ubuntu is one such activity that makes a person realize the importance of others, who he needs to be fulfilled. An individual is one who becomes so thorough their relationship with others. Thus, it emphasizes on the common bond among people in an era where selfishness rules. When an individual’s circumstances improve, everyone gains from it and if he is tortured then everyone is oppressed. Ubuntu has both spiritual and practical dimension in its definition. It reflects the idea that we actually form a part of a chain of individual experiences that connects us to our future and past generations. This powerful concept has the potential of making people in this world more understanding and respectful towards each other.

Ubuntu teaches us to embrace the worst in others with the realization that I might have committed the same evil had I been in the other person’s place. The basic philosophy of this thought process even indicates that there are possibility of evil just as there is a possibility of goodness in every individual within a team or an organization. The fundamental aspect of success is to identify the evil and patronage the good. As a result, this element too becomes aligned with the modern thought process of organizational management principals. (Thomas, 2007)


Hudson, Andrew & Paul Hudson; 2007; Ubuntu Unleashed; Sams

Thomas, Keir; 2007; Beginning Ubuntu Linux: From Novice to Professional; Edition: 2, revised; Apress

Find out the price of your paper