What does Ubuntu really mean?


Mark Shuttleworth, the first African space tourist states in his Ubuntu version of Linux software:

Ubuntu is an ancient African word, meaning “humanity to others”. Ubuntu also means “I am what I am because of who we all are”. The Ubuntu Linux distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world.”

Ignore this last bit as it is not about software or computers that I wish to write about today, it is about people changing their community environment.

Desmond Tutu described ubuntu in the following way:

“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.”

Last October saw the first monthly edition of North London’s Finchley community newspaper. Since we started up the newspaper we had the intention to try to change Finchley from a dormitory town to more of a caring cohesive community, we noticed that, simultaneously, other groups have started up with the same goals and I can’t help but think that maybe the time is right and that the people are beginning to want to put a little back into their community and not either just take, or to live their reclusive lives without wanting to reach out to the rest of the community.

Let’s check Mark’s definition: “I am what I am because of who we all are” Wouldn’t we all feel a little more whole if we lived in a thriving cohesive community? Wouldn’t we feel better in every respect if we all had ubuntu?

As many of my readers know, I am from South Africa and don’t mind admitting I used to think Tutu a bit silly at times but this man turned into a veritable giant when he introduced the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as this is what saved South Africa from bloodshed. I think he did as much, or even more, than even Nelson Mandela.

Desmond Tutu’s version is interesting as it suggests that we grow in stature if we live in a real community of people who interact and care for each other. It may take a few years, but shouldn’t you try to create this in your community?

If any reader would like to start up their own community newspaper (this is the second one I have started in the last two decades) please feel free to contact me and I will try to help by showing you how I started The Finchley Arrow in London N3 and The Archer in London N2 (where I used to live).

It has always been my belief that we can learn from everybody in this world and this certainly upholds that belief for me as I have certainly learned from ancient Africa. Does it for you?

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