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February 15, 2021

Ubuntu

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Let's talk about an African philosophy that I learned from my friend Tunde Daniel, a Nigerian who founded of the non-profit Chess In Slums. The philosophy is "Ubuntu", which is a Zulu word that loosely translates to “being self through others”. It encompasses a few fundamental values all in one thought - Respect, human dignity, compassion, solidarity and consensus.

Respect is about seeing the value in someone else’s unique path. Human dignity is applying that same respect to humanity at large. Compassion is about being empathetic to the soul behind the person you see. Solidarity is standing with others to protect something you find mutually valuable. And consensus is a general understanding that what’s best for the group is best for the individual.

Essentially, Ubuntu captures the shared nature of life. Our personal well-being is intricately woven within the well-being of others. African communities live this Ubuntu philosophy, sharing what they have and only taking what they need, in order to care for all. 

In Western cultures, there’s a lot we can learn from this. Capitalism and the individualism that is embedded in our society rejects this notion of interconnectedness. There’s only so much to go around and you need to make sure you get yours, right? Wrong! And if we choose to be the leaders that provide more visibility to an Ubuntu alternative, we can start shaping a more cooperative society.

Now, back to my friend Tunde. As a kid that grew up in a slum in Nigeria, he depended on Ubuntu for his own survival. And now he’s in a position to pay it forward, and has founded a non-profit called Chess In Slums where he’s helping to inspire kids in poverty to take an interest in education through chess. At For Purpose, we have plans to support him, and if you want to hear more about how, please provide your email at the bottom of our website www.forpurpose.com.

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