Ubuntu and the Crisis in Somalia

The philosophical statement of René Descartes, namely, “Cogito ergo sum” or “Je pense, donc je suis” or “I think, therefore I am” is in stark contrast to the African humanist philosophy of Ubuntu. Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu deftly explains the subtle difference stating “Ubuntu is not, ‘I think therefore I am.’ ‘It says rather: I am a human because I belong. I participate. I share. In essence, I am because you are.’” Ubuntu, therefore, in essence is diametrically opposed to individualism and embraces the fact that human beings cannot exist in isolation, but are somehow rather interconnected to each other.

During the recent past, humanitarian disasters like the Indonesian tsunami, Haiti earthquake, Pakistan flood, and Hurricane Katrina have raised worldwide global attention to the devastating effects of Mother Nature’s wrath which have claimed the lives of millions of our fellow human beings. Besides the natural disasters that have wreaked havoc in many parts of the world, we are confronted with an imminent global economic turmoil following the downtrend of US market, making it more difficult for governments around the world to find the necessary surplus resources to be in a position to avert human crisis in disaster stricken areas.

Highlighting the consequence of drought and famine in Somalia, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, is reported to have said that nearly half of Somalia’s population, i.e., 3.7 million people, was in crisis and that a total of $1.6 billion was needed in order to alleviate their plight. However, the volatile political situation in Somalia is also an impediment to emergency relief aid. It was only last year, when the drought was looming that Western aid organizations were forced out of the country and many such organizations are reluctant to come back since many of their aid workers were killed in the recent past. It is precisely why the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR,...