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In the athletic realm, we can sometimes get caught up in competitiveness and the intensity of a game. Ubuntu is a great way to think about sportsmanship and how to embrace others. Thank you for helping us spread Ubuntu! I am because we are!


What does Ubuntu mean?

I Am, We Are (IAWA) was inspired by the philosophy of ubuntu (oo-boon-too, n.), a South African phrase meaning "humanity" or "I am because we are." The term is derived from the phrase umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, which translates as, "a person is a person through other people." 


Ubuntu was first recorded in written documents in the mid-1800s among Nguni-speaking peoples, but it is believed to be much older. Overtime, it has come to have various interpretations and meanings. 

Today, many associate Ubuntu with interconnection. "My humanity is closely bound up with yours," as Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated in a modern rendition. It serves as a reminder that no one is an island and that everything you do, good or bad, has an influence on your family, friends, and society. It also urges us to reconsider our actions and the impact they may have on others. 


Former South African President Nelson Mandela embodied ubuntu. His works exemplified the power of ubuntu.  Former U.S. President Barack Obama while speaking at Mandela’s funeral said, “There is a word in South Africa – Ubuntu – that describes his [Mandela’s] greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.”

Although Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela are exemplary models of ubuntu, living out the principle of ubuntu is available to every single one of us. Every moment of our day provides an opportunity for us to channel the spirit of ubuntu. We challenge you to look for those moments where you can tap into your own humanity to connect with someone else’s.  Feel free to comment and share how you live out ubuntu and where you notice ubuntu in your everyday life.   

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