Ubuntu Story

Ubuntu Story – An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: Ubuntu. Ubuntu in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are.”


18 comments

  • I found this post because this story is going around social networks, and I was looking to find out if it is based in fact. I can’t find any evidence of that.

    It’s too bad the inherent racism of this story undermines the good message. Also anthropologists are not in the habit of conducting human experiments and that image is not related to this story. This isn’t a true account. The problem with that is people will discount the story based on those factors, and end up discounting the message too. Mythology should be honest that it is a mythology. A story can feel good and be true and have no basis in fact at the same time.

    The truth of the message is that it is possible to have a world view that is community oriented instead of selfish, and that doing so is mutually beneficial. In other words, you can be self serving by serving others. The messages we are raised with help determine the lives we live. Just because you were born into a particular society with a particular message doesn’t make those values you were raised with superior or necessarily better. We must all challenge our own beliefs if we want to build a better world.

  • EZ, I’m 100% behind you. I found this post for the same exact reason, and agree with you.

  • I totally agree with you EZ, and Manuel! I found this post for the same reason. It’s a lovely story, and I will share it just as that; a story with a GREAT message. Thanks!

  • I share it for the same reason, Sara. Is there such a thing as a created story to inspire good. This is one to me. Let’s post one from every culture!

  • Live life in your fullest because you will never know what future have for you.

  • visit kenya, they’ll tell you about ubuntu

  • EZ, I also agree with you. The message is worth marketing to the entire world. If persons in their daily lives recognized that their existence is because of others and we truly cannot make it on our own the world would become less selfless. It is the greed of this world that is causing several world problems.

  • Though I agree with you, which is the same reason i looked up the story myself hence finding this, I don’t see the inherent racism you are speculating either.

  • I agree – whence the racism?

  • Regardless of the story, I’m just glad to see people researching things for themselves and not believing everything they read, see or are told. I could go on and on on this subject but I’m sure you’ve already figured it out.

  • i’m seeing two problems: the myth of the “noble savage” and the idea that there’s this monocultural “africa” represented by this story’s “tribe”. the idea of “ubuntu” is not an african construct, it’s a human construct; you see it across cultures (ahimsa, ren, ohana, mitayuke osayin, the golden rule). glamourizing it by connecting it to an idealized vision of “africa” and “africans” is racist.

  • Hmmm…I never saw this as racist at all. My first thought was “wow, that’s amazing…westerners have a lot to learn.” I realize the generality of the regionless African tribe, but that’s as far as it went for me. The message came first.

  • I’m don’t realy think it’s racist, but there do seem to be myths going around about “An African tribe.”
    This one has been making the rounds.
    “There is an African tribe that does the most amazingly beutiful thing. When somebody does wrong, they take him into the center of the village, and everybody comes u and tells him of all the good he has done. They believe that people are inherently good, but sometimes they forget this and do wrong. They need to be reminded of their goodness.”
    Or something like that.
    Well, sorry, but anything that is atributed to “An African tribe (unnamed) is an urban legend unless proven otherwise, IMHO.

  • I also saw this story in Facebook, and was trying to find out if it was true.
    Honestly, I do not see the racism at all in this. It is about making people think twice about things, in a good way, that’s all.

    As a former Peace Corps Volunteer living in Mali, West Africa… I can totally see how African children could behave this way. The kids in my village were the exact same way. I gave them a bag of skittles and they managed to share with all of the kids who were gathered outside of my house. I’m not saying that any other kids in Westernized culture would not do the same, but for some reason, I am able to see African kids doing something like this…

    Here in the U.S.A, give a child a candy, and I’d be surprised if they even said thank you (without their parents telling them to say it)

    but in Mali… wow. I’d give candy to my children… and I would not only see the happiness in their face… they would say thank you, AND give me a blessing… a blessing. wow. Yes… we do have A LOT to learn still..

  • I’m saddened by the cynicism that immediately questions the veracity of the story and sees racism first.

  • Yes, ditto 🙂

  • I feel like the ones who saw racism first are the true racists. I never saw any racism until I read the first post here. Then I was saddened that people look for racism in everything they look at. I barely see race anymore, WE ARE ALL HUMANS people. If we love and care for each other we will have a very happy world.

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