June 14, 2022

Written with assistance from Mary Erickson and Dr. Chiamaka J. Enemuoh

Ubuntu Logo

The word “Ubuntu” originates from a South African Bantu language expressing a traditional African philosophy of humanity to others:

I Am What I Am Because of Who We All Are.

Ubuntu acknowledges the inextricable bond between individuals, and through this connection to each other – we belong. We become whole.

“A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole.”

Mary Erickson was among the founding group that started the United for Africa Club at The College of St. Scholastica. Mary describes how you can live by Ubuntu and create positive change towards inclusion in our communities.

Northern Minnesota and surrounding areas can feel very isolating for non-locals. As our region aims to grow population to increase workforce, add greater diversity, expand tax bases, and stimulate growth in commerce, any isolation or exclusion these new residents may feel impacts the people and community significantly. When our individuals feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, the community suffers. Exclusion can drive community members to move away, creating an absence in the talent, diversity, and experiences that individual attributes.

The spirit of Ubuntu reminds us that it takes the community to create or build who we are as individuals.

Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts. Embracing Ubuntu and each individual will lead to a healthy and thriving community and economy.

Learn more about Ubuntu:

At the Memorial Service for Former South African President Nelson Mandela on December 10, 2013, then President Barack Obama referred to Mandela’s strong connection with Ubuntu in the following statement: “There is a word in South Africa – Ubuntu – that describes his greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.” We invite you to view the speech below.

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Commitment to Change is a collaborative effort between Lake Superior College and the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce to build a more inclusive and diverse community through education, resources, opportunities, and partnerships. This robust Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resource guide has been curated from experts across the Twin Ports to share with your organizations in honor of Juneteenth.


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