Practical analysis for investment professionals
05 May 2017

Weekend Reads: Ubuntu, a Sub-2:00 Marathon, and Quiet Reflection

Posted In: Weekend Reads

“I am, because of you.”

This, very simply, is ubuntu.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously described ubuntu as meaning “my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.” It is ubuntu that guides the mission and strategy of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation.

“It speaks of the very essence of being human,” says Tutu.

“When we want to give high praise to someone we say, Yu, u nobuntu; hey, so-and-so has Ubuntu. Then you are generous, you are hospitable, and you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours. We belong in a bundle of life. We say a person is a person through other persons. It is not I think therefore I am. It says rather: I am human because I belong, I participate, and I share. A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are.”

I start with ubuntu because of a remarkable podcast I heard recently. It’s fair to say it left a deep impression on me.

Patrick O’Shaughnessy, CFA, author of the Investor’s Field Guide blog and host of the podcast Invest Like the Best, recently interviewed author and conservationist, Boyd Varty about an incident with a deadly black mamba, learning to move in the wilderness, what he learned from Nelson Mandela, and much more.

Varty grew up on Londolozi Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

This is how he explained the African value of ubuntu to O’Shaughnessy:

“I get to experience the deepest parts of myself, in relation. I can’t know the deepest acts of love and compassion by myself, it’s something about being together that provokes that. We make each other human. Another way they say it in Sotho is: ‘People are not people without other people’. It’s very much about this relation, it’s about being connected.”

Varty is a gifted storyteller and, as O’Shaughnessy tells it, the show’s “most unique” guest to date. The episode caught my attention after I kept seeing references on Twitter about how good it was. But don’t take my word for it, here’s what Jason Zweig had to say:

If there is one thing from this week’s edition that you should not miss, it is this podcast. Yes, it takes 80 mins, but it is worth every minute. I grew up in South Africa and was instantly transported back to my homeland as Varty described his various exploits in the bush.

Here are some other good reads in case you missed them and you have time for one or two more:

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Photoevent

About the Author(s)
Lauren Foster

Lauren Foster is managing editor of Enterprising Investor and co-lead of CFA Institute’s Women in Investment Management initiative. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for Barron’s and the Financial Times. Prior to her freelance work, Foster spent nearly a decade on staff at the FT as a reporter and editor based in the New York bureau. Foster holds a BA in political science from the University of Cape Town, and an MS in journalism from Columbia University.

1 thought on “Weekend Reads: Ubuntu, a Sub-2:00 Marathon, and Quiet Reflection”

  1. Clement Gavi says:

    ‘In “The World’s Most Beautiful Mathematical Equation,” Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College, writes, “We all know that art, music, and nature are beautiful. They command the senses and incite emotion. Their impact is swift and visceral. How can a mathematical idea inspire the same feelings?” (The New York Times)’

    ‘How can a mathematical idea inspire the same feeling?’

    Look at the wonder of mathematics through the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmEtouLI7VY.

    In his book ‘The Assayer’ Galileo Galilei affirms:

    “Philosophy is written in this immense book which is continually open before the eyes (this book which is the Universe), but one can not understand it if, first, one does not practice to know its Language and the characters in which it is written. It is written in a mathematical language, and the characters of it are the triangles, the circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is impossible humanly to grasp the slightest word; Without these means, one runs the risk of getting lost in an obscure labyrinth. “

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