By ANTIGHA ESSIEN
Recently, I sat down and took a good look at the chorus of the song, ‘I need you to survive’’ by Hezekiah Walker… I pray for you, you pray for me, I love you, I need you to survive; I won’t hurt you, with words from my mouth, I love you, I need you to survive; It is His will that every need be supplied, you are important to me, I need you to survive. I linked the words of this song to a South African word on which Nelson Mandela hinged his whole life. That word is UBUNTU!
It is not easy to find words in English Language that will fully explain the word, ’ubuntu’ but, I think a fair attempt to explain ‘ubuntu’ in English Language is to say ‘ubuntu’ means “I am, because you are” or “you are, because I am.” Your destiny is intricately linked to mine and mine to yours. Ubuntu is motivated by love. Only through imbibing ubuntu would someone in his Porsche car see malnourished children with torn school uniforms and tattered sandals (many do not even have sandals) and say, “Come and eat and take some medication.” Or it may be, “Come and take some shirts, trousers and shoes”, because that child’s destiny is tied to the rich man’s.
If that child in frustration, picks up a gun as a final resort, we all are not safe. It is ubuntu that makes governments in certain climes to make social/welfare policies to accommodate the unemployed and underprivileged. It is ‘ubuntu’ that makes a man to say, “For necessity is laid upon me; woe is me if I preach not the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16b), because he knows the greatest tragedy is for a man to be plunged into a Christless eternity. A man that owes his workers five months salary and buys brand new cars every week, throws lavish parties every day and flies first class abroad every forty eight hours does not understand ubuntu.
A man that consciously rams a car full of explosives into a public gathering or a church building that is full of worshippers does not understand ubuntu. Those that arm youths with riffles to kill and maim, just to achieve their inordinate political ambitions, do not understand ubuntu.
Love thy enemies, do good to them which hate you. (Luke 6:27)
But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44)
But thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matt 22:27b; Matt 12:31b; Gal. 5:14b; Matt 19:19b; Lev 19:34b). All these scriptures have one common characteristic-ubuntu! One of the most classical depictions of ubuntu in the Bible can be seen in Acts 4:32, 34 and 35, “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul. Neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his. Neither was there any of them that lacked, for many that were possessors of lands or houses, sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold and laid them at the apostles’ feet and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”
This was the secret of the strength of the early church. Today, Christians cheat their brethren, speak evil of their brethren, slander and backbite one another. If we want to make heaven and leave our marks on the tablets of time, if we want to lay hold of God’s best in this year and beyond, if we want to wield the strength of the early church, we must imbibe the principles of ubuntu!