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Ubuntu: I am who I am because of those around


I am taking you straight into the heart of South Africa where Drum Cafe was born nearly 2 decades ago. From the very core of this country emanates the heartbeat you’re feeling now, as your read this. We’ve convened here this summer to talk about the future of Drum Cafe, now a global force that has changed the way communities connect with each other, beat by beat. It’s been a transformative time for all of us and as usual, I’m eager to trace the experience back to you.

We’ve all sat in rooms for presentations. There’s usually a few strong take-away’s. I’ve had so many from this conference, but the one that strikes me so deeply now is a concept that I have understood since I was a child. And given my proclivity to sharing nuggets of wisdom, here comes a gem.

Umunto Ngumuntu ngabantu

“I am through others.”

This is the concept of ubuntu – how each person is made whole by their interactions with the people around them. It’s an ancient believe that runs deep in all the tribes of Africa, as it binds together the collective life-force of each tribal member.  I hadn’t spoken about ubuntu for a while, and when we got into a lively discussion about it at the Drum Cafe conference, I felt electrified in a whole new way. Ubuntu is Drum Cafe.

Ubuntu asserts that only through sharing a common humanity can a person become fully human. We tap into that humanity every time we heal the separation between each other – imposed by hierarchy, business units, competition, geography, and fear of differences. If we begin to see ourselves through our connections with others – through others – we start to re-prioritize our thinking and our doing. We feel the gravitas behind each and every interaction we have, realizing that there is so much to gain from that moment of being.

It’s clearer than ever to me that each program Drum Cafe engages people in, is a chance to birth ubuntu into that culture as a permanent operating system behind all the others.  It takes interconnectedness to a whole new level and penetrates even the firewalls of the deepest corporate chambers.. This old and proven concept can hold the weight of us and give us flight — all at the same time.

 

In Joy and Rhythm –

Natalie Spiro

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