The Ubuntu Philosophy
The philosophy of Ubuntu itself began among tribal communities as an aid for bringing lawful remedy in cases of broken or strained relationships (Wikipedia, March 2003). Ubuntu simply means a 'person is a person through people' (Zulu proverb). It brings the indigenous ideal of respect for the humanity of another to establishing order in communities. In Ubuntu, human development depends upon a shared humanity where each person is born with an ethical responsibility to support others. Ubuntu supports the Law of One.
The philosophy of Ubuntu has gained traction as a foundation for African Constitutional Law through The Ubuntu Project. Founded in 2003 through the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study, the project was funded by a National Research Foundation grant from the South African government (listed on the SEC as a private, for profit corporation), for R2.5 million per year from 2003-2010. A pilot study states, "In any society there is always conflict, and people inevitably wound each other in their engagements. In South Africa there has been a traumatic disintegration of the relations between people. The particular devastation of colonialism leaves a gaping wound in the social bond.
"For restoration or redemption to truly occur, we must acknowledge our inevitable exposure to that wound and the need for repairing the relations of community. Ubuntu, along with other ideals like dignity, freedom and equality, must be manifested in the continued political, social, economic, and legal transformation of the country."
So why would the African Government spend all that money promoting Ubuntu? According to South Africa's first government online radio station, UbuntuRadio.com, SA's admission to the UN Security Council and BRICS has positioned them "to contribute significantly on the global political scene." The radio station will be utilized to "communicate the country’s foreign policy without distortion and to promote Brand South Africa domestically and abroad." In other words, Ubuntu is no longer simply a philosophy or foundation for social law, it has become part of the commercial branding of South Africa.
But still, with one of the newest, most progressive constitutions in the world, why would SA find it necessary to brand themselves with Ubuntu? Could it be to pacify the Khoi, Zulu, Xhosa, and other SA tribes who have lost custodianship over their own land, similar to the American Indian? These tribes still practice customary common law via oral tradition. I wonder if putting the "Ubuntu" label on English Common Law will work with the SA natives any better than worked with the American Indians.
In South Africa, Ubuntu has become a watered-down, hybrid version of the values it has carried for thousands of years. It is now a "brand" to sell the idea of government. Close but no cigar. Even with Michael Tellinger, the founder of the South African Ubuntu Liberation Movement and Global Ubuntu Party, running for public office, the platform has become a clone of true Ubuntu philosophy.
The tribal communities located in America as well as South Africa are at risk of losing their connection with their social traditions. Even with all the talk of new constitutions and republics, the difference between English Common Law and true, Customary Common Law is lost on the public. Those promoting English Common Law Courts and ideals believe they are facilitating freedom; but it's freedom with limitations that they are promoting. A bleached version of slavery, in my opinion. Ubuntu USA / Ubuntu Global are exceptions.
Ubuntu USA / Ubuntu Global are synonymous with Tribal Customary Common Law and Oral Tradition. If they ever cease to be, they will cease to be Ubuntu USA / Ubuntu Global. While they both started as part of the Ubuntu Liberation Movement in South Africa with approval and co-operation from ULM founder Michael Tellinger, they now stand alone in holding the line, maintaining the values that I feel make "Ubuntu" great.
Ubuntu is recognized as being an important source of law within the context of strained or broken relationships amongst individuals or communities and as an aid for providing remedies which contribute towards more mutually acceptable remedies for the parties in such cases.
Ubuntu is a concept which:
- Is in contrast to vengeance;
- Dictates that a high value be placed on the life of a human being;
- Is inextricably linked to the values of and which places a high premium on dignity, compassion, humaneness and respect for humanity of another;
- Represents a shift from confrontation to mediation and conciliation;
- Embodies healthy attitudes and shared concern;
- Favors the re-establishment of harmony in the relationship between parties and that such harmony should restore the dignity of the plaintiff without ruining the defendant;
- Favors restorative rather than retributive justice;
- Operates in a direction favoring reconciliation rather than estrangement of disputants;
- Works towards sensitising a disputant or a defendant in "court" to the hurtful impact of his actions to the other party and towards changing such conduct rather than merely punishing the disputant;
- Promotes mutual understanding rather than punishment;
- Favors face-to-face encounters of disputants with a view to facilitating differences being resolved rather than conflict and victory for the most powerful;
- Favors civility and civilised dialogue premised on mutual tolerance.
"A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.
"One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity." - Desmond Tutu
"A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn't have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?" - Nelson Mandela