Living and working in Africa I'm deeply influenced by the philosophy and practices of ubuntu - "I am because we are". This way of being in the world was both deeply troubling and
reassuring while I lived through the civil disruption and violence of
South Africa in the 1980s.
During my studies, I'd found the individualistic and intrapsychic views I encountered in psychology difficult to resonate with. When I was exposed to family systems therapy a light began to glimmer, and when I came across solution-focused brief's interactional perspective, I felt at home.
I'm interested to know how this interactional way of thinking, doing and being shows up elsehwere. Below a few bits drawn from wikipedia about "ubuntu"
Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a definition in a 1999 book:
A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu further explained Ubuntu in 2008:
One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity.
We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.
Stanlake J. W. T. Samkange (1980) highlights the three maxims of Hunhuism or Ubuntuism which shape this philosophy : The first maxim asserts that 'To be human is to affirm one's humanity by recognizing the humanity of others and, on that basis, establish respectful human relations with them.' And 'the second maxim means that if and when one is faced with a decisive choice between wealth and the preservation of the life of another human being, then one should opt for the preservation of life'. The third 'maxim' as a 'principle deeply embedded in traditional African political philosophy' says 'that the king owed his status, including all the powers associated with it, to the will of the people under him'.