The Story of Ubuntu

"If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." ~ African proverb

During my meditation today, my guide shared the concept of Ubuntu and a story.


She explained how an anthropologist had been studying the habits and customs of an African tribe, and when he finished his work, he proposed a game for the children to play.

He’d bought lots of candy and sweets with him to the village, and he put everything in a basket with a beautiful ribbon attached. He placed it under a solitary tree, and then he called the kids together. He drew a line on the ground and explained that they should wait behind the line for his signal. And that when he said “Go!” they should rush over to the basket, and the first to arrive there would win everything in the basket.

When he said “Go!” they all unexpectedly held each other’s hands and ran off towards the tree as a group. Once there, they simply shared the candy with each other and happily ate it.

The anthropologist was very surprised. He asked them why they had all gone together, especially if the first one to arrive at the tree could have won everything in the basket – all the sweets.

A young girl simply replied: “How can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?”

The anthropologist was dumbfounded! For months and months he’d been studying the tribe, yet it was only now that he really understood their true essence...

Applying Ubuntu

How might your team look different if you applied the concept of Ubuntu?  Instead of competing as individuals, we hold out a hand for one another to bring everyone along to the finish line.  

If you want to go quickly, go alone.  Many of us are perpetually in a rush, getting from one place to the next, at work, with our kids, with our friends--so tightly scheduled.  "Sorry, can't get together until 6 weeks from now--can't wait to see you and hope you are well!"  

I'm your typical type A personality--I am moving at a brisk place often to get as much done as possible in all aspects of my life.   Just one more thing to squeeze in before the next. Reflecting on my 'busyness', how often am I missing out on the opportunities to hold out a hand and help someone else?  Am I sacrificing quality and depth, with greater outcomes for speed? 

Slow down to speed up

If you want to go far, go together.  What would happen if you brought the concept of Ubuntu to your life?  What about Ubuntu in your workplace?  How might things look different?  Would you perhaps move at a slower place but achieve more in the end.

Do you have examples to share?  Does your workplace embrace the spirit of team/community? Please share in the comments section.