Reigniting the spirit of ubuntu

NomondeBy Nomonde Mnukwa

One of the greatest lessons we can take from the COVID-19 pandemic is that life is precious and that we were never designed to live in a state of complete isolation or individualism.

During the pandemic, many people battled with depression because of prolonged periods of isolation. It showed us the significance of togetherness and how interactions make our lives more meaningful and help us overcome life’s challenges.  

Our return to normality has once again allowed us to rekindle the spirit of humanity and togetherness that epitomises the character of our nation. Throughout our history, we have shown that we are stronger together and can overcome the most arduous challenges.  

Our country is built on the cumulative actions and deep relationships of its people. It is also our collective culture and rich diversity, which makes South Africa an exceptionally great nation. This collectivism is known as the spirit of Ubuntu, which encompasses the quality of being human and showing humanity. 

The word Ubuntu has its roots in the IsiZulu phrase “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”, which means that a person is a person through other persons or I am because we are, suggesting the interdependency of humankind. 

It suggests that we can each achieve our full potential by promoting the well-being of others and reminds us that we need each other to live holistic lives and build a better nation. 

Moreover, the spirit of Ubuntu reflects our warm and rich South African heritage premised on values such as compassion, consideration, empathy, kindness, equality, human dignity and oneness. 

As we move our nation forward, we are called to reignite in the spirit of Ubuntu to work towards the common good and collective interests for the betterment of everyone. Let us support one another and encourage togetherness as we contribute to building our nation. 

Redefining our legacy as South Africans requires us to adopt a culture of Ubuntu and we can begin by simply lending a listening ear and providing advice, guidance or a shoulder to lean on for those who require emotional support.


Ubuntu calls for us to lend a helping hand in our communities and this can be done by donating to those less fortunate, helping elderly citizens, volunteering in charity, initiating food drives or cultivating food gardens to enable food security for impoverished communities. 

We can volunteer in neighbourhood watch groups and support our local community police forums to help fight crime in our communities. Actions such as refusing to buy stolen and or fake goods and reporting such activities to the nearest police station advances our fight against crime. 

One of the most gruesome crimes that needs our collective effort is Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF). We can play our part by reporting violence and abuse perpetrated against women and children to the nearest police station and help survivors overcome their horrific experience through support, and counselling. 

Let us also support and guide our children by being available to them and directing them towards the right path.  One of the ways we can do this is by discouraging the consumption of intoxicating substances, which are detrimental to their health. 

All South Africans, particularly our youth are urged to say “NO!” to drugs and illegal substances. We must intensify the fight against drug and substance abuse as it directly or indirectly affects everyone in our communities.

In the spirit of Ubuntu, let us lend a helping hand to our youth by making every effort in our area of influence to offer young people their first work opportunity. The more young people we draw into work, the more we build our nation and drive back the scourge of unemployment.

Government, on its part, will bring together citizens in a common front against our most pressing challenges through community outreach programmes, awareness campaigns and Izimbizo. 

We can all make South Africa a great nation by taking the spirit of Ubuntu forward and embracing a culture of collectivism. In doing so we can build a nation that flourishes and works for everyone.


Nomonde Mnukwa is Acting Director General of GCIS