From Nguni language in South Africa, it means “humaneness” or the “quality of being human.” A proverb common across Africa expresses the Ubuntu idea:
a person is a person through other people.

Nelson Mandela on Ubuntu

“A traveler would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or water, once he stops the people give him food, entertain him, that is one aspect of Ubuntu.”

Desmond Tutu on Ubuntu

“The profound truth is you cannot be human on your own, you are human through relationship.”

Desmond Tutu on Ubuntu

“Ubuntu is the essence of being human, of being a person. A person is a person through other persons. You can’t be human in isolation, you need others.”

Ubuntu teacher

An Ubuntu teacher is an educator who values community and recognizes the symbiotic relationship between a community’s different members. They recognize the inherent humanity in all of us, and understand that dignity, respect, acceptance, and trust are not conditional sentiments to be given and taken at will, but inherent rights to which everyone is entitled. 

An Ubuntu teacher is not separate from the community he or she serves, but is an intricate part of this community and values each member within it, including his or her self, for all their uniqueness. They recognize that a community doesn’t require everyone to be the same, and that diversity should be celebrated alongside shared ideals and a common vision for the future. 

An Ubuntu teacher recognizes that they cannot go it alone in solidarity and isolation, but must reach out and embrace the community. Interdependence is a tenet of Ubuntu philosophy.