In [Desmond Tutu's] definition, it means that there is a common bond between people - and when one person's circumstances improve, everyone gains and if one person is tortured or oppressed, everyone is diminished.
Mr Tutu's identification with ubuntu has given rise to the idea of "ubuntu theology" - where ethical responsibility comes with a shared identity. If someone is hungry, the ubuntu response is that we're all collectively responsible.
There is a spiritual as well as practical dimension to this - with ubuntu reflecting the idea that we're part of a long chain of human experience, connecting us to previous and future generations.
Ubuntu has also entered the language of development and fair trade - with campaigners using the word in aid projects for Africa in ways that suggest this will be an African solution for African problems.
Ironically, says Rob Cunningham, Christian Aid's programme manager for South Africa, just as the word is taking off in Western society the values it embodies are in decline in the land of its origin.
if it was possible, than a communist utopia would also be possible, or any other utopia i suppose
And those feelings of belonging can fuel warfare as much as anything else, no?
Interesting choice of words, Stray. Ivory tower. Seems like it's ebony tower thinking.
I guess that even when you're tied to your community, you will have some sort or level of nationalism. Maybe it's regionalism, maybe it's tribalism, maybe it's something else less defined than national boundaries. And those feelings of belonging can fuel warfare as much as anything else, no?
Breaking a cycle
Tuhabonye knows about those miracles. He was the lone survivor that day in 1993 after the mob attacked his high school. He wielded the charred bone from a classmate's body to break a window and flee from a fire the mob had set when they trapped him and others in his school.
Tuhabonye says he was walking the streets of Burundi later when the man who commanded the mob saw him. The leader ran and collapsed at Tuhabonye's feet, begging for his life.
"Please forgive me," the mob leader said. "I didn't know what I was doing. The government made me do it."
The words made Tuhabonye's heart race. He pointed the gun in the man's face and vowed to kill him. But he didn't pull the trigger.
"I told him, 'Get out of here. Run!' " he recalled.
Tuhabonye says he didn't fire because it would have created an "unending cycle."
"I chose forgiveness," he said. "I wanted a better world."