“A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.” 

― Desmond Tutu

In recent past I have been thinking about this word and make meaning from this ancient Philosophy from Africa.“I am because we are”— is the possible translation.How does UBUNTU manifest itself in our day to day lives?A few weeks ago two of my Veteran Batchmates along with their wives came holidaying with us.We went uphill to Kasauli — danced, drank and sang! This was followed by a spiritual trip to Amritsar where the twilight trip to the Golden Temple was also sprinkled with mouth watering Amritsari delicasies as well as crazy e-rickshaw rides.But what was really beautiful in this sojourn was an activity which all six of us performed at regular intervals.In all our states of spirituality to dizziness, we would hold our hands, stand in a circle and speak out loudly– our feelings! Yes we all at this age past 60 were there the way we were because of the others– camaraderie we built since our young days in the Armed Forces. I found my meaning of UBUNTU. There were no petty accounts of expenditure and synical mood swings — just completeness because of others.

More recently, an experience at a local Physiotherapy Centre , made me discover a more profound meaning. In a not so famous Hospital at Panchkula-our home town, I accompanied a dear one to this mesmerising Centre. Twelve patients in a symphony with One Doctor and two assistants– the smell of the place–was healing! A slow stream of people entering in their turn, some in agony of pain and the severe winter–simultaneously attended by this trio. Dr Kuldeep Singh was incharge and was in a symphony as a conductor for the other two. No patient, even for a minute felt neglected. The crecendo of the Centre Head ‘s process was the healing touch and massage at the correct time as per requirement of the particular patient without any indication by the patient . Yes the Therapist was effective and efficient; but what made his symphony so beautiful was the presence of the patients– and he acknowledges it. The show — if I may call it for me– was a 0930 to 1330 hrs non-stop! UBUNTU-in letter and spirit was at display. All done with a spring in the step and a smile in the heart!

When I mull over these experiences I become mindful of the opportunities which others offer me. Another year has ended and yet another has dawned. What is my contribution to the lives of others? Can I make a difference in the lives of others? Can I make others feel my need for their presence? How can I show my gratitude and appreciation for others who give me the opportunities to showcase my competencies and self perceived goodness? What stops me from being sensitive to others– sensitivity to ‘ under performers’ ? In John Milton’s words-‘They also serve who stand and wait’! When I find the answers this year and work on them-perhaps I can place an honest hand on my heart and say–UBUNTU!!

Leave a Reply