Ubuntu at the 2010 World Cup Soccer

Soccer’s perennial World Cup underachievers from the Netherlands broke many Brazilian hearts today by beating their mighty team 2-1. Could the Dutch now be on their way to finally win that elusive title?

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Brazil’s Fabiano (L) fights for the ball against the Netherlands’ van Bommel. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

We’ve been watching the World Cup soccer games for several weeks now, but besides the Vuvuzelas, the name Mandela, or that it’s one of the best places for a Big Five Safari  (i.e. Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo, and Rhino) what do you know about South Africans?

When Shari Cohen, an International development worker in the public health sector,  returned from South Africa last month she wrote a marvellous Huff-Po article, “South Africa Rolls out the Ubuntu in Abundance“.

A few excerpts:

I have been blown away at the hospitality South Africa has shown the rest of the world. At a meeting with the Board members of a rural NGO, they explained the traditional African philosophy of “Ubuntuthat essentially says, “No man is an island.”

I have been truly humbled on this trip. And while I have my gripes regarding development here, I cannot say one negative thing about how South Africa has handled its duties as host and hostess to the world. If I could say one thing to sum up being here during this once-in-a-lifetime experience, it would be that I’ve learned the value of Ubuntu, and that when found and offered in abundance, the world is indeed a better place to live in.

— It’s funny, many people in America still ask me, “are the people in Africa very primitive?” Yes, I know, amazing someone could ask that but they do. And when they do, I usually explain that living in a mud hut does not make one primitive, however, allowing kids to sell drugs to other kids and engage in drive-by killings — isn’t that primitive behavior? I think it is.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s explanation of Ubuntu“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.”

[Read the article.]

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu


My friend David Shapiro (dshapiro@sasfin.com) who lives in Johannesburg, wrote in his weekly column for the Times on June 29, 2010:

“I am not sure I want the World Cup to end. I’m enjoying entertaining a house full of family and guests, basking in the attention South Africa is attracting from hosting the competition and, above all, savouring the exhilaration, celebrations and commiserations of each game.

Sandton City, one of the country’s premier shopping destinations, is buzzing with excitement, far busier than I have ever seen, although the traffic is not necessarily being converted into profit.  Without question the restaurants and bars within the vicinity of the popular hotels are the major beneficiaries of the World Cup.

Moses, a manager of Levisons, an up-market men’s clothing store said that the English and Germans weren’t buyers, thinking prices of international branded clothing were much costlier than in their home country, but “the Mexicans, Argentineans and Brazilians love our merchandise and can’t get enough.”

Mike who owns a Vodacom outlet is being run off his feet. His shop was overflowing with customers topping up their airtime, and buying accessories.

Some businesses have fallen well short of expectations. Thobang, who cleans windscreens on the Grayston Bridge every weekend, hoped to build an empire from selling merchandise at the Innesfree Fanpark, but the unusually cold weather and Bafana’s early exit had kept the masses away, shattering his dreams of becoming a bourgeois gentleman.”


About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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2 Responses to Ubuntu at the 2010 World Cup Soccer

  1. E fullstop says:

    Thanks for teaching us about the concept of “Ubuntu.” It’s interesting that nearly-universal concepts like this one often don’t have a Western world equivalent, eh? Or is there a one-word English translation that I just can’t think of?

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