The Sunday News
A PERSON is a person through other persons. None of us comes into the world fully formed.
We would not know how to think, or walk, or speak, or behave as human beings unless we learned it from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human. These words were attributed to South Africa’s Anglican cleric and theologian Desmond Mpilo Tutu from one of writings in 2004, when he was discussing the importance of the Ubuntu philosophy.
The word ubuntu is derived from a Nguni (isiZulu/isiNdebele) aphorism: “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu”, which can be translated as “a person is a person because of or through others”, according to Moloketi.
Ubuntu can be described as the capacity in an African culture to express compassion, reciprocity, dignity, humanity and mutuality in the interests of building and maintaining communities with justice and mutual caring.
Academics say the application of the Ubuntu philosophy optimises the indigenous setting of an African organisation. The Ubuntu philosophy believes in group solidarity, which is central to the survival of African communities.
As the nation relives and celebrates the life of Father Zimbabwe, the late former Vice-President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo, it is befitting to look at the veteran nationalist as one who embraced and taught the world the spirit of Ubuntu/Hunhu. The late nationalist died on July 1, 1999 and was buried at the National Heroes Acre.
Last week, Bulawayo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Cde Judith Ncube said the nation must always uphold the values bestowed to the country by the late Dr Nkomo. She was speaking at a memorial service held in the city and organised by the Joshua Nkomo National Foundation.
“The memorial service done today stands as an important annual commemoration which seeks to acknowledge the life journey of our icon Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo. Throughout his life he committed himself to building a society that promotes all cultures in their diversity and he knew no tribe but the children of the soil (abantwana bomhlabathi) hence the need to continuously cultivate those key values of peace, unity, love and tolerance,” she said.
Cde Ncube said it is important for the country to always make the late Father Zimbabwe a reference point.
“Let us continue learning from the late Vice-President Nkomo and cement peace, unity, love, tolerance which he (Dr Joshua Nkomo) said are the founding principles of a country. We honour him for his ability to bring people and ideas together, across disciplines, sectors and generations.”
Dr Nkomo is also famed for playing a key role in ensuring that there is unity in the country. Together with the late former President Cde Robert Mugabe, they signed the Unity Accord between the two liberation movements, Zapu and Zanu in 1987, which marked an end to post-independence political disturbances. Unity was always central to Dr Nkomo’s discourse. Soon after independence on 29 September 1980, he was quoted as saying;
“The rulers will go, the parties will go and so will men present and to come, but the independent Zimbabwe will never go . . . our children will inherit this country and it is our duty to build it in unity and have our children thankful to us for building the country instead of destroying it.”
Long live the spirit of Father Zimbabwe. Gone but not forgotten.