By Zara Houshmand
Ubuntu is alive in Africa’s performing arts, not only in the vision presented by Donald Molosi, but in the synergy that fires between artist and audience and the communal wisdom of long traditions of music and story. Reverend Rupert Hambira of the Botswana Council of Churches spoke of the communal nature of the African philosophy of ubuntu in the same vein as its arts: “In the western world, philosophies, theories, reason, thoughts are ascribed to individuals. In Africa and in Botswana they are owned by community. … A song, a poem, a prayer, that wisdom is never limited to an individual because if you can sing a song and the rest of the community cannot jive to it, then it’s not a song.”
Vusi Mahlasela, known as “The Voice” of South Africa, speaks of ubuntu as Africa’s gift to the world, a gift that expresses itself in “everyday kindness, helpfulness, humbleness, empathy, sympathy, togetherness, unity, tolerance, forgiveness, reconciliation…” He embodied that generosity of spirit himself offering a solo concert in the time originally planned for a public address from the Dalai Lama. The performance was a highlight of the Dialogue, an electric and inspiring communal celebration of hope, healing, and ideals in action.