In search of the Ubuntu experience

2016-12-06 10:25

I don’t think I quite understand Ubuntu and yet I know I should be experiencing it when I visit a local government office. After all, I hear government is investing massively on this locally developed, silver-bullet, service delivery concept.

Now I do understand what good, quality service is. I can judge if a service person or the entire service system in my local government office is reliable and responsive. I can judge if the service space is aesthetically pleasing and sensibly designed. I can judge whether the service person there is trustworthy and has empathy for me and is sincere about solving my problem.

But still for the life of me, I cannot make sense of the Ubuntu experience. I do observe and experience something when I visit a local government office. Surely this can’t be Ubuntu:

For instance, silly errors on my statements, the yappity yap persons at the service desk that are too slow to deal with my enquiry, offices that are even more untidy than the streets in my progressively scruffier town, and I am not even sure where to queue. I do not find the people dependable and I even cringe at the prospects of engaging again with the service persons that show little empathy toward me and my problem – a problem by the way, which is typically caused by the ‘system,’ and the system is always right because it is the system.

I admit I am still puzzled by Ubuntu, but I can judge what good quality service is.

Please can I have just plain, good old quality service, rather?

Such an experience is not mystical and puzzling like Ubuntu.

But it will satisfy a narrow and simple-minded person like me in those rare but all too harrowing moments I am coerced into interacting with the local government office.


Under the Afrikaaner government language games were used to legitimate morally and intellectually dubious acts, the language of apartheid being one of many such games.

Now Black elites (politicians and academics) are fond of playing language games, such as state capture, white capital, decolonization and ubuntu, to rewrite and romanticise their past and to detract from morally and intellectually dubious acts they perform in the present.

And many people instead of forming their own opinions seem to lazily accept these ideas - or perhaps group-esteem and denial is generally hardwired into human nature.

Pity because - as I have tried to show - in the real world our choice of fictitious words do matter.


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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