ubuntu, noun

Forms:
Also buntu, uBuntu, and with initial capital.
Origin:
Xhosa, ZuluShow more Xhosa and Zulu, ‘humanity’, ‘goodness’; formed on the noun stem -ntu, used to form words related to humans.
a. Human-heartedness, compassion; the qualities embodying the values and virtues of essential humanity, or of Africanness; botho sense a. Also attributive.
1926 G. Callaway Fellowship of Veld 25To the Native the qualities which go to make up ubuntu, the qualities which make an umntu (person), are largely social.
1953 G.H. Calpin S. Afr. Way of Life 56To the Bantu the Europeans, probably because of their materialistic outlook, lack the essential quality of human beings, which is best conveyed by the Zulu word ‘Ubuntu.’
1978 Rhodeo (Rhodes Univ.) 15 Sept. 7Steven Bantu Biko, founder member of SASO and the black consciousness movement..The man of ‘ubuntu’ — humanness and togetherness.
1982 M. Mzamane Children of Soweto 153Bra P. possessed that rare quality Africans call ubuntu or botho, which is the sum total of human values as Africans understand them.
1983 Fair Lady 5 Oct. 12In some black areas it’s the second, third or fourth year of drought. What keeps the people going is buntu, an almost untranslatable word meaning caring, compassion, love.
1986 J. Leatt in Leadership Vol.5 No.4, 38Even black ‘reformist’ groups such as Inkatha advocate ‘welfare capitalism’ — ‘Capitalism with siza and ubuntu,’ two Zulu words which can be translated as ‘capitalism with a human face’.
1991 D. Tutu in Sunday Times 26 May 2It seems to me that we in the black community have lost our sense of ubuntu — our humanness, caring, hospitality, our sense of connectedness, our sense that my humanity is bound up in your humanity.
1993 Act 200 in Govt Gaz. Vol.343 No.15466, 180There is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimisation.
1994 J. Thomson in Weekend Post 1 Jan. 7Add ‘shalom’ and ‘truth’ to ubuntu — and with these three words..perhaps..the unborn’s right to life will no longer be disputed.
1994 K. Mkhize in Natal Witness 28 Dec. 8Trust is the main axle in the wheel of Ubuntu.
b. comb.
ubuntu-botho [Xhosa and Zulu ubuntu + Sotho botho, both words having the same sense], ‘human-heartedness’; the name given to a non-examination subject in KwaZulu schools. Also attributive.
1987 King G. Zwelithini in S. Afr. Panorama May 24We Black people of South Africa regard Ubuntu, or Botho in Sotho, as our highest ideal. Ubuntu/Botho is almost synonomous [sic] with humanism.
1987 Frontline May 27Whatever anyone thinks of Inkatha, you have to respect their efforts to include Sotho terms in their symbols...The ideology course in KwaZulu schools is called Ubuntu-Botho — again both languages.
1989 L. Kaunda in Natal Witness 30 Mar. (Echo) 1Teachers at KwaZulu-run schools in Sweetwaters and other parts of Edenvale are apprehensive that they have to teach the KwaZulu-prescribed ubuntu-botho syllabus. Dubbed the ‘Inkatha’ subject by scholars, this non-examinable course has generated a lot of controversy ever since it was established.
1990 F. Khumalo in Weekly Mail 4 May 11At local schools children are being taught Zulu and Ubuntu/Botho — Zulu nationalism as seen through the eyes of Inkatha.
1990 M. Kentridge Unofficial War 104Inkatha keeps a tight hold on education...Ubuntu Botho, a subject devoted to the values and philosophies of the organisation, forms an integral part of the syllabus.
1991 D. Mattera in Pace Feb. 32I write to encourage compassion, empathy and humanism (ubuntu/botho)...I believe I am a humanist poet.
Human-heartedness, compassion; the qualities embodying the values and virtues of essential humanity, or of Africanness; bothoa. Also attributive.
Derivatives:
Hence (nonce) ubuntuize transitive verb, to infuse (something) with the qualities of ubuntu; ubuntuism noun, the philosophy of ubuntu.
1988 L.J. Sebidi in Sunday Times 27 Nov.Put differently, ubuntu is some kind of humanism — African humanism. Shall we call it ubuntuism for lack of a more appropriate word?
1994 K. Mkhize in Natal Witness 28 Dec. 8Is it possible to decommercialise Christmas and Ubuntuise it for mankind?

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19261994

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