Desmond Tutu is often a point of inspiration here at Ubuntu and his story is often repeated here as both a booster as well as a reminder of our purpose here at Ubuntu. For those of you who don't know this amazing man let me give you a brief History.
By the 1980s, Tutu was an icon for many black South Africans, a status rivaled only by Mandela. In August 1983, he became a patron of the new anti-apartheid United Democratic Front (UDF). Tutu angered much of South Africa's press and white minority, especially apartheid supporters. Pro-government media like The Citizen and the South African Broadcasting Corporation criticized him, often focusing on how his middle-class lifestyle contrasted with the poverty of the blacks he claimed to represent. He received hate mail and death threats from white far-right groups like the Wit Wolwe. Although he remained close with prominent white liberals like Helen Suzman, his angry anti-government rhetoric also alienated many white liberals who believed that apartheid could be gradually reformed away.
Apartheid was a form of government similar to the Jim Crow laws in America that made it legal to segregate and in fact even encouraged it. This was a system that was first introduced in 1948 and ended in 1994. That is not so long ago anyone over the age of 27 vividly remembers requiring passbooks to enter white areas, police brutality, and no representation. So finally after significant international pressure Apartheid finally came to an end and this is where People like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu really set an example that we here try to emulate. South Africa found itself in a unique situation because unlike other nations that practiced such barbaric forms of governance the country was 85 percent black and as you can imagine hostilities due to centuries of oppression were at a boiling point. Desmond instead of giving into his bitterness and hatred however justified they were, came up with a revolutionary idea of truth and reconciliation. He created and headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose sole goal was to “promote reconciliation and forgiveness among perpetrators and victims of apartheid. The Commission was charged with three specific tasks: to discover the causes and nature of human rights violations in South Africa between 1960 and 1994; to identify victims with a view to paying reparations; and to allow amnesty to those who fully disclosed their involvement in politically motivated human rights violations.”
This was met with vicious backlash from the Black and colored(this is how mixed race people are referred to in South Africa) who while they agreed with the reparations did not agree with Amnesty for those who committed politically motivated human rights violations. Desmond Tutu however saw that if this period of Transition if revenge was the driving factor behind a new government then in fact this new regime was going to fail. So he said that in this world of division unity is the only solution. Desmond Tutu stated ““There can be no future unless there is peace. There can be no peace unless there is reconciliation.” “True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the pain, the hurt, the truth”. “An unexamined and unacknowledged past finds all kinds of skeletons emerging from all sorts of cupboards to bedevil the present.” This is the attitude that we try to embody here at Ubuntu because of the History of Disability in Kenya and the stigma that surrounds Disability. Especially in a community that's very small like ours here in Maai Mahiu and another Community we serve called Thigio. There is both traditional and religious Stigma that comes with having a child with disability and it is often seen as a curse from God or as an indication that you have wronged either the ancestors or have sinned against God.
This however could not be further from the truth and our kids are nothing short of a blessing from God. We like to say here at Ubuntu that our kids are not Disabled rather differently or Specially abled. This is because “in fact disability is not a brave struggle or courage in the face of adversity, Disability is an Art and an ingenious way to live, -Neil Marcus. This means much like our hero Desmond Tutu ours is a mission to allow our children and the families of these children to live with dignity and live life to the fullest. That means being allowed to participate in society and society accepting their contributions. It's a matter of realizing that we are one people and hence we should strive to be more and more connected and that right there is the spirit of Ubuntu and what we try to envision and live everyday. As the African Proverb says, if you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together.
So remember in a world where every corner you look at we see people trying to divide us on the basis of politics, religion, and other factors. We must remember that we only go far when we go together. By your donations and well wishes to strangers that you have never met or sometimes even seen there is a child who is taking their first steps, there is a mother who had lost hope who now wakes up with Joy in her heart everyday. You have helped those who were once ostracized by society are now celebrated and their children welcomed and loved. This is the vision of the future that we set out to accomplish here when we set out in the month of may.
This is not going to be an easy journey nor is it going to be a quick one, But there is no quit in us. Till the day we can set out to accomplish what two men in a restaurant (Jeremiah and Zane) only dreamed of, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you, our donors for how far we have come and the many miles we will go on together. As summer begins and the children are home and the relatives start to visit from all over the country, remember to appreciate the loved ones around us and Like Desmond Tutu instead of being the wedge that tears people apart, be the spirit that brings people together.
Thank you for all that you have done for us at Ubuntu and Enjoy your Summer!!!!!