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UBUNTU! the Spirit of Humanity


This resource book and workshop manual uses Ubuntu, an ancient African code of ethics, as a framework to explore universal values for living together in harmony and for building bridges across cultures and nations.

Themes include personal and social values, interconnectedness (with others and with the environment), leadership qualities, conflict prevention and resolution, and implementing the principles of Ubuntu in today’s world.

Colourful, clear and user-friendly, it contains a variety of reflective, interactive and creative activities, many of which are based on Global Cooperation for a Better World workshops and the Living Values Education approach. Activities can be adapted and developed according to different contexts.

Quotations are given from well-known personalities of different backgrounds who stress the need for Ubuntu in areas such as forgiveness and reconciliation, community cohesion, and education for the future. References to role models who demonstrate Ubuntu values in action, provide inspiration for reflection.

Developed with the collaboration of trainers from different parts of the world, the workshops have been piloted in Italy (Casa Sangam), London (Global Cooperation House), Kuwait (with staff of an international school), Goa (with a community group – who translated Ubuntu as Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, Sanskrit for ‘belonging to a global family’), Oman (with a variety of professionals, university students and schoolchildren), and at a weekend spiritual retreat in LIsbon.
The book is available in English, French and Arabic and is being translated into Spanish.

The aim of this facilitators’ guide is to enable the reader / workshop participants to experience the beauty of Ubuntu, find parallels in their own cultures and to re-ignite the spirit of humanity in their lives – to feel the joy of sharing, to develop the courage to forgive others, to increase our levels of compassion, and to recognise that we are all part of one big human family.

Reverend Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate and former Archbishop of Cape Town, describes Ubuntu as follows:
“Ubuntu ... It speaks to the very essence of being human. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, ‘Yu, u nobuntu’: he or she has Ubuntu. This means that they are generous, hospitable, friendly, caring and compassionate. They share what they have and are able to go the extra mile for the sake of others. I am human because I belong, I participate, I share. 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 with knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole. We believe that a person is a person through other persons, that my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours. When I dehumanize you, I inexorably dehumanize myself.”

About the author
Helen Sayers is director of Oasis Human Resource Development, Oman, and facilitates seminars and workshops in life-skills. She is currently coordinating the revision of a professional development scheme for engineers and designers at Petroleum Development Oman.

A teacher by profession, Helen taught science, music and tennis in the UK, Kenya and Swaziland. Her special interest lies in values-based education, and in exploring the universal values at the heart of all cultures and traditions. She is a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Association for Living Values Education International (ALIVE) and founded the Swiss Association for Living Values. She coordinates its programmes in West and Central Africa, organising workshops for teachers of early childhood to secondary/high school level, and for street children. She has also trained educators in Europe, in India, Kuwait and Oman.

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