Ubuntu to What Purpose?

(Readers, please note Bruno’s comment below as a correction to my ignorance)

Ubuntu was the small group process used at the recent Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops.  Now it is to the be theme of the upcoming triennial convention of the Episcopal Church.  This previously all but unheard of method of small group engagement to discern something or other is attributed to African practices about which I know absolutely nothing.  However, ignorance has never stopped me from asking questions or forming opinions, and now and then I actually turn out to be right about something. 

If ubuntu works well for discerning the will of tribal leaders, and therefore of the tribe itself, how well does it work with inter-tribal matters?  Do the African tribes that have previously engaged in interminable warfare with one another find it a useful way to resolve differences and achieve peace?  Did it resolve anything among the warring factions of Anglican bishops?  If, as some scholars claim, America is becoming a tribalized country, will ubuntu work only within our various tribes, or can it work to build bridges between them?  If the principles underlying ubuntu are valid, how about if we dump the name and diligently work with and on the principles?  Because I’ll tell you this, if we don’t, ubuntu will join the long list of old cast off bumper sticker aphorisms that have been easily adopted into the language of leaders who have absolutely no intention of doing things any different than they have always done them. 

6 thoughts on “Ubuntu to What Purpose?”

  1. I think you may have \”Ubuntu\” and \”Indaba\” confused.Indaba are the small meetings, Ubuntu is a humanist philosophy (too big a statement really) that roughly translates to \”I exist only in your existence\” or something like that referring to our interconnectedness. That being said, I fear our fascination with the magic of words from other cultures, or concepts from other lands, is indeed based on us not wanting to do the work and the compromises to make progress. It also smacks of ignorance and otherness about fellow humans, creatures, beings. The quaintness quotient if you will.

  2. Before I read your post, I thought ubuntu was just another flavor of the Linux operating system. I figured some geek had made up the word.I also seize the opportunity to splatter my ignorance all over the Internet. D

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