Monday, 12 November 2012

Desmond Tutu brings Southern-African philosophy Ubuntu to Cardiff

Luis Corvini

It took less than an hour for the presence of Nobel Peace Prize winner archbishop Desmond Tutu, 81, to become an unforgettable moment for hundreds of people who have assembled at the Temple of Peace, in Cardiff, to talk about the Southern-African philosophy Ubuntu, on the 25th of October at an event organised by the WCIA and Life for African Mothers.

Mr. Tutu, a loyal propagator of the Ubuntu philosophy, demonstrated some of the basic principles of this way of living by the time he stepped out of the car.

First by opening a big smile to kids holding Wales and South Africa’s flags for his welcome, and after that when keeping his kindness during his meeting with the event participants.

“I am, because you are. (…) How I behave impacts not only on me, but also others around me because we all belong together.” Tutu’s words, found in his foundations’ website, could fit easily in this day.

A philosophy that held a country together

According to Tutu’s foundation, Ubuntu teaches to look beyond a person’s individuality. The Southern African philosophy emphasizes how to create better ways for people to get connected, to increase interdependence with each other and become better human beings.

Ubuntu held an important role during the post-apartheid period in South Africa, by holding together the country’s nation in the period of intense social turbulence.

“It is intangible, but visible”

Former nurse and charity-organization Life for Mother African Mothers founder Angela Gorman was the one chosen to explain Ubuntu philosophy at the group-discussion in Cardiff. She started her speech by giving her own example of life.

Ms Gorman discovered Ubuntu after watching a BBC Panorama program called ‘Dead Mums Don’t Cry’. The documentary showed the situation of women who were dying in Chad, Western Africa, by not having essential drugs to help them during their pregnancy period.

“If you stood and watched a woman dying, like I have, because she didn’t have fifty pence for medicines [in contrast of] we have so much here, it has to change you”, Ms Gorman said. That was the moment when she decided to create the non-governmental organization and raise funds for Chad’s pregnant women.

For participant Ephson Ngadya, 39, director of a Zimbabwean theatre company that was touring the UK, who knows the concept of Ubuntu almost by heart, the “create good-do good” idea is not a something to simply be transformed into a project, but is a brotherhood principle to be shared with everyone.

“[Ubuntu] is a lifestyle. It has all to do with our values, our beliefs. What is important for me is to mainstream Ubuntu in everything that we do. We are here to promote it amongst our children, amongst our community.

Good examples came from different parts of Wales. 16-year old students, David Silk and Rhiannon Phillips, came from Brecon to Cardiff not only to meet Tutu, but also to talk about their initiatives started in their town.

“[Ubuntu] is about communities coming together. If tomorrow these people go out and smile to someone at the street, if they talk to someone at the checkout queue, and if it makes difference to one person, it was worth it. We’re going to whatever we can insure to that this [Tutu’s] visit has a legacy”, said Ms Gorman.

Tutu’s words can summarize what gatherings like this one, means to society. “If this world is going to become a better place, is not going to happen because someone falls down from heaven, it’s going to happen because of [common] people, who want to make this a more gentle, more caring and more sharing world.”

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