Ubuntu: An African Virtue at the Forefront Of Human Development

Ubuntu is a traditional African relational virtue which means ‘I exist because of you.’ It celebrates connectedness, generosity, responsibility, and optimism.

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Image by Templeton World Charity
Image by Templeton World Charity

Over the sweep of the past 50 years, economic growth and technological advancement have brought radical improvements to many dimensions of everyday life around the globe – ranging from the spectacular decline in child mortality to greater access to primary education. Against this general narrative of progress, there is widespread concern over the decline in the quality and strength of human relationships. For many, myself included, deep connections to my family and community bring a fullness to life that cannot be replaced by material goods or services.

A recent project of the Children’s Radio Foundation in South Africa seeks to approach the problem of social development through the lense of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a traditional African relational virtue which means ‘I exist because of you.’ Ubuntu celebrates connectedness, generosity, responsibility, and optimism.

This unique project engages radio reporting, storytelling, broadcasts, and two national competitions to ignite dialogues about the themes of Ubuntu among South African youth. The initiative trains youth to bring out powerful local stories, and to create an array of radio programs that highlight the diversity and interdependence within local communities. It encourages young reporters to identify themes of Ubuntu as actualized in the lives of others, and through this process, to uncover new ideas, self-understanding, and ways of working together to improve their own communities.

-Andrew Serazin 

Piece contributed by Richard Sergay

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