Prompts on Truth and Reconciliation and Ubuntu. Critical Thinking.

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Middlebury College
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Critical thinking
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1. Summarize the "Truth and Reconciliation" video in a paragraph, in your words. Also, insert at least two quotes (very short quotes) into your summary to illustrate major concepts or memorable parts of the video, and don't forget to cite the particular location of the quotes (using the time-counter, e.g., "1:20"). If your answer to this prompt is still too brief, then add some additional thoughts of your own, following your summary - but make sure you are not just repeating details you will provide in other prompts.

The "Truth and Reconciliation" by Desmond Tutu talks about the way South Africans needed to heal from the violence that had occurred in the past. Desmond Tutu is appealing to South Africans to compromise to situations and one another and avoid conflicts as much as possible. The speaker is carefully calling to fellow citizens to avoid revenge and focus on growing together as a peaceful nation. With this in mind, South Africans will overcome the depressing period successfully. One example that Desmond uses to demonstrate the importance of peace is by showing how revenge worked for the people in Rwanda. According to the Mcb95x (2009), Desmond states "You clobber me; I am waiting for my chance to clobber you back" (0.53). It is a sure way of causing violence and to a further extent, genocide as it occurred in Rwanda. Therefore, South Africans should avoid revenge to remain a peaceful nation. Another example that Desmond gives to the audience is that of forgetting the past. Desmond states that "For goodness sake, let's forget the past" (3.03). Living together in peace requires people to erase the past. Leaving the past behind will help them to heal and focus on what matter for the future.

2. Now switch to the other video: (1) Summarize it in a few sentences, and then (2) Describe one of your favorite parts of the Ubuntu video in your words (and in detail). Why does that section of the video resonate with you? (Try to pick a scene or example that is different from those of your classmates; or, if you must describe a similar scene, discuss it with additional, original insights that have not yet been shared on this board.)

The Ubuntu video is one that demonstrates the things that Boyd Varty had learned from Nelson Mandela after he was released from the prison (Varty, 2013). One of the favorite parts of the Ubuntu video is when Boyd was talking about how Mandela taught him of being humble. Boyd gives the example of how he learned "the most about this value personality" from a man called Solly Mhlongo. Coming from a humble background where he looked for his father's cattle, Solly grew to become one of the richest people Boyd had ever met. This section of the video resonates with me as I always value the importance of remaining humble as a person despite your position in the society. It also shows that valuing others is an important aspect of respecting their rights.

3. Imagine something from your experience (or a movie, story, etc.) that, according to the philosophy of Ubuntu, could function as a gift in the sense of "paying it forward" or "doing good things for others" before they do things for you. NOTE: If someone else has already written about a DRIVE-THRU experience, you will need to write about something else here. (Thanks!) Provide citations or examples from the videos on Ubuntu to reinforce your answer.

The philosophy of "Ubuntu" states that "I am because of you or people are not people without other people." One of my experiences fit in the philosophy of "Ubuntu" can function as a gift about "doing good thinks for others, before they do things for you," is when I paid a trip for the entire family. It was one of the surprises that I made to my family, and they were happy about it. From Boyd Varty's video, he gives the example of "Ubuntu" by how the audience gave him the chance to speak to them. Boyd says that "Ubuntu is at play right now. You are holding a place for me to express the deepest truth of who I am." (1.53). Boyd means that the audience is doing something to him first before he did to them. He also used the example of Solly Mhlongo who would leave his car some "20 or 50 meters down the road just in case you need help with something." What Solly did to people was "Ubuntu, " and the people are not doing anything in return.

4. How could one argue that "Truth and Reconciliation" are similar to Ubuntu? Also, in what ways are they distinct? (Compare and contrast the two, in a paragraph.) In an additional section, discuss examples from your life to back up your opinion, or reference material in books you have read, movies you have seen, or the stories that friends and family have shared with you. (There is a lot of leeway in "backing up" your opinion for this question, so be sure you don't skimp on the details. Please provide us all with an amusing anecdote or two. It is not meant to be a "challenging" assignment, but it may take some time to brainstorm or allow those memories to come into your mind.)

A person can argue that "Truth and Reconciliation" are similar to "Ubuntu" because of their purpose of seeking unity and love among South Africans. The two have a common subject of promoting peace and being selflessness to others. The rebuilding of relationships is a common item pursued by the two approaches where the principles of forgiveness and reconciliation are essential. However, they are different because "Truth and Reconciliation" goes further to require individuals not to revenge as retaliating removes the major essence of loving one another. It raises the issues of the past that need to be forgotten. For example, "Ubuntu" and "Truth and Reconciliation" were important strategies for dealing with the racism, discrimination, and abuses that the country faced during Apartheid. They all worked to unite South Africans where race and class in the society were to be put aside. The difference here is that "Truth and Reconciliation" had a Christian basis while "Ubuntu" emerged from the African way of life (Wielenga, 2011). Nelson & Lundin (2010) call Ubuntu the African tradition of teamwork and collaboration. Another example in life that I have experienced "Ubuntu" is volunteering to start community projects that help people to love one another by educating them on the importance of peace within the society.

5. What might Kouzes and Posner say about Ubuntu? Discuss connections with at least two of their Five Behaviors. Find (and quote) some passages in the book that link to or compare with this concept. (Provide in-text citations to reinforce your answer.)

Kouzes and Posner would say that Ubuntu enhances a cohesive team since it advocates for unity and peace. Kouzes & Posner (2007) proposed five behaviors of a coherent and the two actions that connect to Ubuntu is model the way behavior and enabling the other to act. Model the way behavior requires teaching people the right way to follow. Ubuntu calls for modeling of a person's behavior to achieve great teamwork in the promotion of peace in the community. When Mandela was living in Boyd's house, he taught him a behavior that would make him a peace ambassador. He gave him an example of Solly with whom he can emulate. Mandela helped Boyd model his behavior by how he promoted peace in South Africa after his release. What Kouzes & Posner advocate for here is to give people the reason to follow a particular behavior without forcing them. They state "Leaders forge unity" without forcing it (Kouzes & Posner, 2007)

In enabling other act, Kouzes & Posner (2007) require leaders to allow people have confidence in their ability. They state "Leaders significantly increase people's belief in their capacity to make a difference." It connects to the intention of Ubuntu whose purpose is to enable others to act. It is evident with Nelson Mandela on the TV as seen by Boyd during his childhood. He and his family could watch Mandela moving from one point to another educating people of the need to reconcile and leave the past behind. Mandela gave people a personal example and making them believe that it is possible to forgive others who wronged us and live together in peace.



Kouzes, J., & Posner, B. (2007).The Leadership Challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations. 4th Edition, Jossey-Bass.

Mcb95x. (2009). Desmond Tutu Truth and Reconciliation. Desmond Tutu. Retrieved from

Nelson, B., & Lundin, S. (2010). Ubuntu!: An Inspiring Story About an African Tradition of Teamwork and Collaboration. Crown Business.

Varty, B. (2013). What I learned from Nelson Mandela. TED Ideas Worth Spreading. Retrieved from

Wielenga, C. (2011). Comparing Approaches to Reconciliation in South Africa and Rwanda. Conflict Trends. Retrieved from


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