Below is an article published September 23, 2016in a local Congolese language on an onlineCongoleseforum, by a young educatedMaman Shujaa group, some of them Congolese diaspora, who call themselvesCONGOLESE WOMEN IN ACTION:
The word “Ubuntu”, by definition, is a quality that includes the essential human virtues; compassion and humanity. It originated from South Africa and often is translated as “humanity towards others”. Our community has always been outstanding when it comes down to demonstrating Ubuntu, so that many of us feel compelled to act kindly even when we do not really want to. Our ancestors, as they migrated to the DRC have been able to survive almost on their own with the principle of Ubuntu. They left us a legacy that is quite unique and that enables us to keep a community-centered lifestyle even when circumstances have left some us in foreign lands. Despite it all, it is still fascinating to know that if today, I were to decide to go to Holland or Belgium or any other country, I would find a home in a Munyamulenge house. It gives us such pride!
Ubuntu is all about giving/doing without expecting anything in return, and when it comes to our community, we have the principle mastered. There is only one part of Ubuntu we have neglected. When it comes to women, we often need “reasons” to give without expecting anything in return. We need reasons to send girls to school, reasons to hold off on early marriages, reasons to treat them right. We are still unable to really see the humanity in our sisters, mothers and women in general. We do not acknowledge women as the same caliber of human beings, who deserve to be loved, respected, nurtured, protected, educated and simply valued. It’s easy to encourage parents to send their boys to foreign countries for studies, yet hard to speak up when a young girl wants to attend elementary school. It’s easier to understand that a young man wants to wait and finish his undergraduate degree first, before getting married at 30 years, yet so hard to think that a young girl doesn’t deserve to be forced into a marriage at 15 years of age. At what point did our community decide that women were less “human”, or at least less equal than men, given that it is the same human nature inherent in each one of us that compels us toward individual growth and development.
We were all created by God and in His image, and none of us had any authority to demand to be born a certain way. It was never your right to be born male or female, or to have the parents you have now, or your skin color; those things unique to each one’s identity. It is not inherently “manly” to despise women, or the poor, or the disabled, or any other so-called minority on this earth. Rather, it is your duty to do your part in making the world a better place for all, not some.
Let us stop applying “Ubuntu” to situations that makes us comfortable. Let us not pick and choose who to love and who to hate, or who deserves to be educated and who doesn’t. Let’s not treat needs as privileges. There is a need for girls to be sent to school. There is a need for men to stop raping young girls in the name of culture (rape is not cultural; it’s tolerated by a group of people in high positions). There is a need for equal rights between men and women.