Ode to ubuntu and the human spirit

2011-03-26 07:20

We have heard the phrase ubuntu ­bandied about so many times that one could be forgiven for being cynical about what the word really means.

In some cases, this noble little word has even been used to pursue a chauvinistic line.

Rwandan refugee Kennedy Gihana’s story (on Page 11 of this edition) reassures us that ubuntu is alive and well away from those who have ­reduced it to no more than a marketing gimmick.

Gihana survived the genocide in his native country and set off on a 3 000km journey south in search of a better life.

Today Gihana holds a degree in international law from a South African university and has started his own practice here.

He survived the six-month journey because of the generosity of complete strangers who offered him food and sometimes a bed.

“I survived only because of that African thing called ubuntu,” he says.

Gihana also survived because of another factor that knows no continent of origin – the sheer ­desire of the human spirit to overcome adversity.

There are many lessons to learn from Gihana’s inspiring tale.

We could tap into the inherent good in us to make life better for others or be ­inspired to achieve our goals regardless of the ­obstacles in our way.

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