“U” is for Ubuntu

I first learned about Ubuntu, the operating system, about 5 years ago when I was working with an advertising/PR agency that was transitioning to open source software. The name stuck with me and I wanted to know where it came from and that’s how I learned about South African philosophy.

Ubuntu is a south african term that can be roughly translated into “human-ness.” Philosophically, it means that in the known universe, everything is connected. That we, as humans, are not only connected to each other but to everything. It’s ver meta 😀

As a humanist, this idea of ubuntu was something I could easily identify with. According to Michael Onyebuchi Eze, Ph.D. in his book Intellectual History of Contemporary South Africa ubuntu can be summarized as follows: 

“A person is a person through other people”

That makes sense, right? We are a product of our circumstances, good and bad. We are what our interactions with the world around us make us. We are what we observe and learn from our family, friends, media, etc. That explains why some people grow apart while others are drawn together.


“I am because we are.”

I cannot be human by myself. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the people I have met along the way. Take one person out, one movie, one book, one event… and I am another person. How crazy is that? It’s UBUNTU.

So I want to take this opportunity to THANK YOU! YOU! who has been reading my blog, YOU! who leaves comments, YOU! who also writes, YOU! who makes ME possible.



  1. Ubuntu – a wonderful concept. I would agree that we are all interconnected. A world away we connect. Oceans apart we embrace each other mentally and emotionally. As our world gets smaller, we become more connected. I don’t know how people can think that one act of kindness or one act of violence does not impact those around them. I pray that I can continue to do the acts of kindness. That the example will help break the cycle of violence in our societies (or is that really just society?!?!) Thank you for teaching me a new word, even though it is a principle I already follow!

  2. Yours is the second Ubuntu topic I’ve read today and I can’t read enough of them. It is such a wonderful concept and it makes sense that more egalitarian societies would have a word for this sense of togetherness. I think that we have isolated ourselves in our unending quest for individualism here in the US. Dropped by for A-Z.

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