Working on the collective

Mike Boon at the Workspace harbour on Saturday.

Ubuntu, a Nguni word commonly used in South Africa, is not as easily translated.
There are many definitions for the word and this makes one think of the Xhosa idiom,”isisXhosa asitolikwa”(Xhosa cannot be translated) because although they all generally speak to the same theme, that of humanity, it is evident that the definition just isn’t as succinct, for such a short word.

In the hopes of making things a bit clearer and shedding some much needed light on the subject, the Hout Bay Partnership in collaboration with Nucleus Integrated Financial Development Services hosted Mike Boon at the Workspace in the harbour on Saturday June 10.

Mr Boon is well versed on the subject of Ubuntu and a man with many years of experience in connecting people and entire communities through the philosophy. He has had the privilege of hosting religious leaders and statesmen from all around the world and helped facilitate talks that have shaped the futures of communities, states and countries, including South Africa.

NGOs, residents, business owners, community leaders, youth and anyone interested in attending were invited to the event, and even though the evening was a wet, cold and rainy one, the community of Hout Bay was well represented and the evening had a welcoming friendly feel to it.

Mr Boon’s talk introduced the audience to concepts such as approaching relationships or conflict from the perspective of the other party.

Being able to understand what their interpretation of the situation is and communicating from that viewpoint instead of one’s own, can change the entire direction of a conflict and result in real resolutions being made, that really last.

He spoke about creating a sense of community with those around us through detaching ourselves from generational conditioning and creating connections, regardless of demographics.

He suggested speaking of “us” rather than “I”, of paying attention to body language and what we “do” rather than what we “say” and spoke of creating connections through the simple act of learning to speak a new South African language by learning a few new words a year.

He also made examples of us in South Africa being able to describe the traditional attire of a Scotsman from head to toe when asked, yet when shown images of different tribes or cultures in South Africa we could not describe or distinguish between them. We were shown how little we actually know about one another, not to make us feel bad about ourselves, but for us to become aware of what we were paying more attention to and what we were taking for granted.

Portia Msamo is the communications officer of the Hout Bay Partnership.