“Ubuntu is a way of being in the world. It is a word that condenses the true essence of what it is to be Human. My humanity is intrinsically linked to yours and, therefore, I am human because I belong, I participate and I share being in community. You and I are made for interdependence and to complement one another.”
This South African word contains a philosophy of life that is transversal and independent of any country, culture, religion or political affiliation. Ubuntu means "I am, because you are", that is, I can only be a person through other people.
We assume our lives as being interconnected and we are complete only when in relationship with each other. So, being Ubuntu, in stark contrast to the notion of self-sufficiency, is to believe in a common and interdependent humanity. Individual well-being and happiness are intimately linked to the well-being and happiness of others.
“(…)The Ubuntu philosophy has obvious and deep African roots that have extended beyond borders. Its essence isn´t South African. Its essence isn’t Portuguese. The essence of Ubuntu is to be human. "
The Ubuntu philosophy, as Volmink tells us, deals with the essence of the human being. When questioned with what makes us more human, the answer is the appreciation of the "I" in its search for meaning through encounters with others in a relation of constructive interdependence. The Ubuntu philosophy proposes that we each learn to find ourselves and the others, communicating, relating, preserving and enhancing the individuality of one another.
The Ubuntu Leaders Academy has its roots in the Ubuntu philosophy of life which permeates the project’s methodology, present in the tools and instruments used, in the attitude and way of being of the trainers/facilitators. It aims to empower young people and educators towards an ethics of care, the construction of bridges and servant leadership.
This concept is very close to Ubuntu.
We live in a world of speed and ephemeral digital immersion. Life is being increasingly mediated by sophisticated machines and software replacing irreversibly, what was previously done by and with people. The lack of human face and presence has ignited the need to seek meaning and purpose in the life of each person.
In Essential Care: an ethics of Human, Leonard Boff tells us that "In care lies the fundamental ethos of man”. This means that in care we identify the principles, values and attitudes that make life worth living and actions, a challenge to accept.
In the essence of "I Am because You Are" is the care, the attention, the protection, the relationship, intrinsic to the essence of the Human being. Caring for myself, caring for others and taking care of the planet leads to meaning and purpose, so often enlightened or hidden by a society that has become, in so many ways, dehumanizing.
Ubuntu restores this sense of humanity by placing the focus on the person and on his/her relationships, helping to connect with the person´s deeper and most humane essence. Therefore, it is not difficult to understand why Ethics of Care is one of the basic foundations in this Ubuntu path.
In an increasingly fragmented and often radicalized world where fear is so often the engine of decisions with tragic consequences, it is imperative to create a culture of bridges and to empower a growing number of personal, territorial, generational, cultural, civilizational bridge builders, for the creation of a cohesive, solidary, dignified and more humane world.
The construction of bridges is closely linked to the deepest philosophy Ubuntu stands for. The ability to recognize interdependence is one of the key features for any bridge builder. The certainty of the need of the other, to connect margins not always close and to be transformed by this connection, is the essential attribute of the pontiff, that is, the one who builds bridges.
It is thus clear that being a bridge builder is one of the essential characteristics of a servant leader. This is, very often, a difficult task and the Ubuntu Leaders Academy pays particular attention to this theme.
"Everyone can be great ... because everyone can serve. No college degree is required to serve. There need be no agreement between noun and verb, to serve. Only a heart full of grace is needed. A soul generated by love."
Inspired by Martin Luther King, the Ubuntu Leaders Academy is built on the conviction that everyone can be a leader, because everyone can serve.
Servant Leadership, focused on the common good, seeks to generate consensus and mobilize the collective will, in search of solutions to concrete problems. It is not a leadership centered on a single individual, on hierarchical verticality or on the logic of power; instead, it focuses on the capacity of a person, in relational, interdependent and collaborative mode, to enhance the capacities of others for the common good. Self-knowledge, self-confidence, resilience, empathy, and service are essential to those who wish to be servant leaders.
“The servant leader serves first. It all starts with a natural feeling of wanting to serve. So a conscious choice leads the person to want to lead. This person is totally different from the one whose choice is only to be a leader."
The servant leader is motivated by a deep-seated desire to make a difference in the lives of others and the world around him. It is from this premise that we work the leadership, assuming that it is a path that implies a set of competences that have to be developed throughout life. With the conviction that leadership traits are learned the Ubuntu Leaders Academy invests in empowering people to discover who they are, what skills they have, who they want to serve, and how they want to serve.