John Mbiti: I am because WE are and, since we are, therefore I am – meaning

The quote “I am because WE are and, since we are, therefore I am” is an expression of the African philosophy known as Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a term that originates from the Bantu languages of Southern Africa and is often translated as “humanity towards others” or “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.”

The quote emphasizes the interconnectedness of individuals within a community or society. It suggests that a person’s identity, existence, and well-being are inextricably linked to the well-being of others and the collective group. In this sense, the quote highlights the importance of social relationships, empathy, and cooperation in shaping who we are as individuals.

By asserting that “I am because WE are,” the quote challenges the notion of individualism, which places the individual at the center of all considerations. Instead, it promotes the idea that our identity and worth are derived from our relationships with others and our contributions to the larger community. This way of thinking encourages compassion, understanding, and a sense of responsibility towards the well-being of others, fostering social harmony and mutual respect.

In summary, the quote “I am because WE are and, since we are, therefore I am” conveys the essence of the Ubuntu philosophy, which emphasizes the interconnectedness of human beings and the importance of community and social relationships in defining our identity and existence.

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