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Finding Peace in Ubuntu

I raced home with a pizza on the back seat of the car. The day had been crazy in the office, I was a few minutes behind schedule heading home, and everyone would have about 10 minutes to gulp down my lovingly prepared dinner before heading off to school for Phoenix’s concert.

In the car with my daughters and my mom, I talked to myself at the red light. “Take a moment and breathe,” I thought, as I reached to turn up the volume on the radio… just as the news was reporting the passing of Nelson Mandela.

It is incredible how there are just some people who we think will always be there. We don’t age them. We expect that they’ll defy science and live forever. I suppose it’s about the impression they leave. And in a moment of selfishness, I was saddened that the experience my 11 and 14-year old American daughters will have of Nelson Mandela will be so vastly different from my own.

At the choral concert that evening, the first choir performed Ubuntu. In South Africa, it is a word used to express humanness. I listened with hope as a young student introduced the song by sharing its meaning with the audience and acknowledging the life of Nelson Mandela. In this video clip from several years ago, Nelson Mandela explained Ubuntu.

We live in a day and age where we primarily think of peace as not being at war. But isn’t peace more than that? And do we just want to happen upon it on occasion, or do we not have a responsibility to actively seek and pursue it? Do we not owe that to ourselves, our children, and those who sacrificed so significantly to at least get us to this point?

Let us not just wish for peace. Let’s embrace the philosophy of Ubuntu and recognize humanity as a quality that we do owe each other. We create each other and belong to each other and should be able to inspire ourselves to peace in our mutual and intertwined humanness.  And as Nelson Mandela would challenge,


Ifeoma U. Aduba
Executive Director

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