“Ubuntu” a reflection from Anji Wijewardane!

Enjoy this reflection from Anji as you head into your weekend.  I am struck by how relevant and important the message is for our King’s community at this moment.   Respond as you are so moved in the comments.

Our podcast interview for this week was supposed to be with King’s grad Olejuru Anozie.  We had a great conversation earlier this week, but the Zoom recording didn’t convert…I am still working on it, because I think her stories from her time at King’s, as well as what she has been up to in the last year, will be encouraging for many of us.


Wow, the unpredictability of life! Doesn’t it really make us humble by showing us our true place as humans in God’s creation? Nevertheless, every time can be a time of gratitude. Every time can be a time of hope. Every time can be a time of reflection.

I would like to share my favorite word with you today. Initially, my favorite word was “Hakuna Matata”, it means ‘no worries, for the rest of your life’… (kudos to you if were humming it in your head as you were reading it). But clearly, it is not true. We are human, and we worry about all sorts of things throughout our entire lives. While worrying may not be a big part of our ‘generally abundant’ lives, this situation has led us to worry in many ways. Through these three weeks of the pandemic, now we get a glimpse in a way, of how some people in different parts of the world have been living their entire lives! But let’s be honest, self-isolation and running short of some toilet paper, isn’t that bad.

Anyway, back to the point; my favorite word now is “Ubuntu”, which is often translated as ‘I am because we are’. For those of you who are not familiar with the word, here is a story that connects to it.

The story goes that an Anthropologist proposed a game to African tribal children. He placed a basket of sweets near a tree, and then had them stand a few hundred feet away. Whoever reached the basket first would get all the sweets.

When he said ready steady go…Do you know what these small children did?

They all held each other’s hands and ran towards the tree together, divided the sweets and enjoyed them equally.

When the Anthropologist asked them why you did so?

They said “Ubuntu”. Which to them, meant ’How can one be happy when all the others are sad?’

The Osani Circle Game – Ethnotek Bags

I couldn’t help but realize the relevance of this word in this time of pandemic. We may not physically hold hands with each other in our community to run towards our goals, but beautiful are the ways we isolate ourselves because we care for that old person in the neighborhood, or the newly born baby next door or the hardworking essential workers who work day-in and day-out during this difficult period.

In silence, in subtleness, in simplicity, we are forced to stay out of that rat race we run everyday. Instead, here we are forced to walk in the shoes of another. Here we are, forced into downtime from hypocritic individualism to what we are truly called to be: to be for the other, to feel for the other, to walk with the other, just like Jesus did. Hence, I am grateful for this situation in a way, because it reminds me that, for us to overcome this global pandemic, it can only be done collectively.

Because if you suffer, so will I. If I am healthy and happy, it will be because of us. Ubuntu…

Picture and story from : https://medium.com/@neocody/the-origins-of-ubuntu-os-2307c996077c

2 thoughts on ““Ubuntu” a reflection from Anji Wijewardane!

  1. Thanks Anji, ubuntu is indeed a beautiful word that is so rich in its meaning that it is hard to capture in the English language. It reminds me of the Jewish word Shalom, another that is hard to convey. Thank you for the much needed reminder that what we are facing here in the West in terms of scarcity is only a tiny fraction of what much of the world faces all the time. This is a salutary reminder to us all to practice gratitude without minimizing any of the very real impacts many are feeling.
    I hope you are experiencing the reality of ubuntu in your own life right now Anji!


  2. I walked my dog today, stopping to speak with neighbors that until this slowdown I almost never see, getting to know new neighbors. As we stepped outside and slowed down, we shared gifts of connection, encouragement, and support. Gifts that would be far less likely to be shared when we rush about in our usual individual ways. Anji, I’m so grateful for this reflection on ubuntu–you reminded me to see the gifts in those neighborhood interactions.


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