I am African through Ubuntu
Believing I was ‘Africanist’, I registered for the WWPAC 2016 convention, and when the meeting opened, the colour of my skin attracted objection, and I was removed from the meeting.
For the past year, I accepted that I could never be an African, not with the colour of my skin, thanks to the minority rights protection, that my colour carries.
Then, I find myself in a group with a common bond, no longer the white superior who is the director, we are all sharing ideas, we are all sharing with the community, knowing that we will all benefit.
Having entered a common bond, where Ubuntu resides, today I know I am African, committed to the Ubuntu bond.
South Africans will all claim to be part of Ubuntu, therefore, we are all African, sorry to disappoint you.
We live our lives, in a world where the academic, the politician, ‘identifies’ the values embodied in our cultural heritage. Based on their identified values, our lives and our future is decided.
Is there a difference between Social Cohesion and Ubuntu?
“SOCIAL COHESION”: a group is said to be in a state of cohesion when its members, possess bonds, linking them to one another, and to the group as a whole.
Ubuntu is a Nguni term meaning “humanity”. It is often also translated as “humanity towards others”, Ubuntu is the state of sharing, that takes place within a group, who have a common bond, the sharing that takes place in this common bond, takes place within a group, where sharing is mutual, where sharing takes place in two directions.
Culturally, an African will always provide the visitor with tea and something to eat, even a place to sleep if necessary, whether you are a stranger, irrespective of your origins. This is a culture developed though the need to move distances, through difficult terrain and often on foot, allowing the host, the comfort that they will be provided the same reception, when they are travelling.
I am of the opinion that this is not necessarily Ubuntu, as it is also provided for strange whites, where very little else is shared with the whites under the Ubuntu banner, if anything, the majority of blacks, have an expectance of receiving something from the whites.
This two directional sharing, Ubuntu, mainly takes place in an informal economy, where sharing is essential, in order to survive. Driving Ubuntu is the hawker / informal traders, who operate a ‘price collusion’ system, where the profit margin is restricted, to a level, where the average hawker, can live a sustainable life.
This ‘restricted’ profit margin, is the form of sharing with the buyer of the products, allowing them the ability to share some of their meagre income, with their ‘street’ / village community.
Social Cohesion, takes place at many levels of our society, where a common bond and sharing takes place, very seldom does this sharing take place across the boundary of the ‘bond’.
Social Cohesion / Ubuntu exists, in many disguises in the world; social clubs, sports clubs, schools, churches, Rotary Clubs, Masonic Lodges, you name it, it exists.
The fact that Ubuntu is part of most of our lives, based on a defined ‘bond’, may sound crazy, so I use an example of the ‘Old School Tie’, the other economic extreme, to substantiate this comparison.
Old School Tie: the way in which people who have been to the same expensive private school, help each other to find good jobs, and the old school tie still has enormous power in such companies:
The ‘Old School Tie’ group, would never survive, if it was not based on a mutual two way sharing process.
The Old School Tie ‘Ubuntu’ system, also has great difficult in sharing outside of their bond, as it would cause the collapse of the system, enough for the group to fear.
How do we bring together, the sustainable informal economy, who do not have the ability to share financially with the formal economy, and the ‘Old School Tie’ group, who even have difficulty to share with another ‘Tie’?
As South Africans who strive for achieving Social Cohesion, it can be achieved, not through the process of donating to a Charity, and claiming that Ubuntu is alive and well.
Social Cohesion can be achieved, by accepting that we all reside in some ‘Ubuntu Club environment that bonds our group, and separates our group, mainly through a class structure, from the groups below us, and we make an effort to develop a mutual bond with the ‘informal communities’, where we ‘share’ what the informal group has, in return for input from our formal ‘Ubuntu Club’, that will not necessarily cause our ‘bond’ to collapse.
Critical to the success of Social Cohesion, is the ‘Old School Tie’ group, in developing the mutual bond, receives from the informal, all their heritage, their thoughts and skills, and returns to the informal, the cultivated values that the ‘Old School Tie’ group has accumulated, in the interests of developing a mutual bond, towards stimulating the ‘informal economy’.
Cedric de la Harpe
July 17, 2017