Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ubuntu - The Meaning And Power of Groups

This is a story from Laurie Kahn’s introduction to our conference about the meaning and power of groups. 

In 1998, when I visited trauma clinics in South Africa, I met Craig, a psychologist in South Africa. Craig was assigned to meet with a group of women who had lost their homes.

Many of the women had also lost their sons in the struggle to end apartheid. Craig hoped he could be a vehicle for healing for these women. He hoped he could help them with their grief. 

“How can I help?”  Craig asked.   

“We want tools for a garden,” the women responded. 

“But, I am a psychologist.” 

“That’s nice," the women said, “we need tools for a garden.”

I don't know anything about gardening, Craig thought.  But, Craig found a way to round up some tools for the women of this township to till a garden.

In the heat of the day, the women gathered together to create a garden. With sweat on their brows, they dug in the earth, they told their stories, they cried together, they sang danced and planted food for their families. 

They had no interest in talking to one person; they had no interest in being away from the land or to be inside behind a closed door. What they needed to heal was each other and a shovel in their hands.

The central spiritual belief of South Africans I learned is embodied in the word ‘Ubuntu.’  Ubuntu is the essence of being human. It speaks about interconnectedness. “You can't be human all by yourself,” Bishop TUTU was fond of saying.

-Laurie Kahn, MA, MFA, LCPC

Image Credits: Image One, Image Two

1 comment:

  1. Ubuntu literally translates as "I am because you are."