The power of African culture
Every time the word culture skips my mind, a surge of unexplained energy just flows over my body. I think about my roots, my language, values, way of living and most importantly my people, who are the foundation of Ubuntu or Ubinadamu in African culture, meaning a sense of togetherness or humanity towards others. But with the new trends, advanced technology, and modernization changing the status quo, the question on whether Ubuntu still prevails remains unanswered. Have we lost that sense of togetherness?
Ubuntu holds that unity and affirmation have more power to change behavior than shame and punishment. In certain regions of South Africa, if you do something wrong, you are taken to the center of the village and surrounded by your tribe for two days while they speak of all the good you have done. They believe that each person is good and so unite in this ritual to encourage you to reconnect with your true nature. The more I think about this, the more I fall in love with African culture. Imagine how speaking words of affirmations at the right moment in your child’s life, spouse, friend, sibling, colleague or even a strange can help light up a whole roomful of possibilities.
In this day and age, have you ever heard of anything like this? Normally, when you do something wrong the expectation is punishment and not that sense of a community telling you all the good that you’ve done. Nelson Mandela said that in Africa we are human only through the humanity of others; such that if we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will be in equal measure to the work and achievements of others. Meaning that your actions are a reflection and a piece of the greater whole of the community, and as a result, there is a form of accountability that should be evident in the way you live your life. As they say, people are always watching, whether it is your child, friend, neighbor or just a stranger. How you treat them will be passed to the other generation eventually affecting the whole community.
Historically in African culture, the sharing, the caring, the love, the hope, the joy and that sense of community was based on the thought that every single person is incredibly valued and you cannot place value on human life. Whatever you do then not only affects you but your neighbor, and the world as a result. And that’s how we should live life in this contemporary world, whether it is in sharing resources, responsibilities, services, etc. Think about it, if we all do this, how far would we be?
I hope that you have understood this whole concept of Ubuntu as the center of our cultural heritage as Africans and hope it changes how you think about the community.
To learn more about the foundations of our culture click here.