“A person is a person through other people’ strikes an affirmation of ones humanity through recognition of an other in his or her uniqueness and difference. It is a demand for a creative intersubjective formation in which the other͛ becomes a mirror (but only a mirror) for my subjectivity. This idealism suggests to us that humanity is not embedded in my person solely as an individual; my humanity is co-substantively bestowed upon the other and me. Humanity is a quality we owe to each other. We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you are, and since you are, definitely I am. The I am is not a rigid subject, but a dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation and distance”.
This is what Michael Onyebuchi Eze wrote, discussing the meaning of Ubuntu. The word, composed of – standing for human being and ubu- prefix for abstract nouns, comes from Zulu and Xhola languages and its literal rough translation is I am because we are. It had its moment of maximum diffusion during the post-apartheid in South Africa mainly thanks to Nelson Mandela, as an ideology aimed at guaranteeing cooperation and harmony among the variety of ethnic groups, because people with Ubuntu are supposed to be able to interact peacefully with others, knowing their place in the universe and respecting the values of their society. This is possible because the societal identity replaces the individual one and each person is defined only in terms of their relationship with others in the group and of its various roles inside it. Thus, the inner concept of humanity towards others, embodying the virtues of unity, helpfulness and sharing among the member of a community, is at the basis of an ethic or humanist philosophy centered on the idea of reciprocity. As a consequence, in addition to the appreciation and respect of traditional customs and rules, in the belief that today actions are a reflection of the past and will have a far-reaching consequence in the future, its practical applications are shown in the everyday life in a shared and gift economy, a socialist redistribution of wealth, a spontaneous generosity and hospitality towards everyone, a high social degree of interdependence and cooperation.