Books and Me: Ubuntu!

Book Title: Ubuntu!

Author:  Stephen Lundin &  Bob Nelson

Books are one of the only item on my shopping list apart from food. I buy them from a variety of stores and for a variety of reasons. There are stores where the store keepers have become acquaintances – with whom I share a smile and lighter conversations. One of these stores, I primarily have begun to visit for the person who mans the book section.  He, rather than the store’s collection or ambience makes my experience of picking books there quite interesting and enjoyable.

On one of the recent visits, based on my regular purchases and requests he handed me a copy of this book saying that it is fast moving and with positive reviews. I am not a big fan of fables and fictional write-ups. I read them mostly as a result of strong recommendation or reference.  Normally, I would not have picked this book up. Somehow the sincerity with which the young energetic cheerful person made the recommendation made me smile.  Another compelling reason was the reference to ‘African Tradition’.  In recent times I have had the opportunity to interact and work closely with number of interesting people from the West African nations. Working with them had reinforced my belief that people across the world have broadly the same purpose. Ofcourse, I did learn a little bit more about the challenges and opportunities that these countries were facing in the present.  Hence to know a little bit more on Africa was an enticing proposition. These two reasons presented a fairly strong case for the purchase.  And on the way home I was telling myself that the book being neither too expensive nor too big, can be a part of my collection, even if I don’t like it.  On that night I picked this book up but could not read past the first few pages. But a few days later I completed the book in one sitting!

The book describes a very important and fundamental concept called ‘UBUNTU’, which literally means ‘we are all in this together’. This term or phrase is supposedly of African origin, which was used by two Nobel prize winners; Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.  Through a beautiful setting in the organizational context, the story has been weaved by the authors to bring out the essence of this phrase.

Apart from some interesting things about Africa, and some African phrases such as “Sawa – Bona” which means ‘I see you’ and “Sikhona” which means ‘I am here’, there are also interesting trivia about animals and situations in Africa.  The beauty is that what we are trying to learn as a concept or practice is something that most Africans unconsciously live by.  This reinforces my belief that our life on earth is to be viewed as an opportunity to serve the larger good.  The book brings out beautifully this spirit in an organizational setting – leaving you touched and thinking.

I do not wish to tell much about this little book and its story and spoil the surprise and joy which it will provide through your reading experience.  But this is an ideal book that you would want to read when you are travelling on short hauls.

Happy Reading!


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