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  • Writer's pictureErika Clegg

Grow, and grow others: how Ubuntu shapes culture

A great culture gives people the support to grow, and the desire to support the growth of those around them. This concept goes far back in the culture of Africa and is known as Ubuntu.

Nelson Mandela explained it as: “Ubuntu does not mean people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to improve?"

As a political philosophy, the term underpins equality at all levels – financial, emotional and practical. The individual’s ability to progress and achieve their personal potential is not seen as divisive, but as for the good of the whole community.

It originates from the Zulu phrase “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” meaning “a person is a person through other people”. In essence it means that we’re all part of an interconnected community, so we all belong and personal growth is for the good of everyone in that community, as theirs is to us.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu describes a person with ubuntu as “open and available to others, affirming of others … has a proper self-assurance.”

It's one of the points of integrity against which we check our decisions here, and a great philosophy for any organisation embarking on the journey to instil authentic, effective culture.


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