Dumi Magadlela
Dumi Magadlela

The Ubuntelligence test

In case you missed it, Ubuntelligence is generally defined as the “ability and courage to seek out and connect to other, seemingly different, fellow human beings. It is about establishing meaningful connections with others, within given timelines, without due regard for individual or personal gain. It focuses on collective value in the short, medium and long-term basis. It combines Ubuntu attributes and commonsense intelligence of putting others before our selfish interests. Ubuntelligence is inherently based on selflessness and service”.

I have put together a set of 10 questions as part of a preliminary self-test for Ubuntu Intelligence preparedness. Clearly all the smart M&G Thought Leaders will ace it like the very few matriculants did their exams recently. But it’s not that kind of test. Looking at the list below I’ve been saying to myself: Can you allow yourself to explore openly your perceptions and assumptions about your own world and worldview, without undue exposure? My answer has been a loud: Why not?! As you go through the list, note your own answers or write them down for yourself if you have the time and space. No pressure. In brackets after each question you will find selected early responses from a mini-survey carried out among a cross-section of diverse individuals. They are indicative of sentiments out there, but not to be taken literally or as conclusive. Here goes:

1. Deep within me, do I feel that I have the capacity and courage to step out of my comfort zones mentally and emotionally to connect with strangers? Do I know that I have comfort zones? (Sure, I do, and I have the courage to shift and I do it all the time. It is easy and it’s fun. My couch is my comfort zone, beer mug and remote control in hand! Do I need to change anything really? What comfort zones? This is utter rubbish! I love myself as I am. Who made you the Ubuntu judge? How old are you again?)

2. Is it really possible to change my old patterns and habits of relating to others? (No. Yes. Whatever. I do it all the time. If I did not change my patterns and habits, I’d be dead.)

3. Am I aware of others’ comfort zones too? We all have them. (Nope. Who cares?)

4. Am I too terrified of changing my ways and patterns? (Try me. Am no chicken, not terrified. Just not interested. Done that, got the bruises. Sounds like my ex-wife.)

5. What will happen if/when I allow a new norm to emerge in how I relate to myself and to others? (Chance to grow. I’ll avoid the laager mentality. Must protect my culture.)

6. What is the risk of my making myself more vulnerable by stepping out to engage strangers and connect with them … safely? (Culture erosion. Language depletion. Getting swamped. I think the world has become too brown already. Deeper connections. Peace at last.)

7. Am I able to see my triggers for what they are, such as, for example, what goes on in my mind when I see the words Malema, DA, communist, transformation, BEE or ubuntu? What do I do when I am triggered: do I immediately shut down mentally and move on to the next blog or explore it? (Hmmm? People can take themselves way too seriously sometimes. Cannot see the triggers, but can see the impact.)

8. Do I have it in me to encourage young people to look at the world through their own eyes and not lend them my already tainted lenses? (Hmmm, do-able. Tough one. My “eyes” are hand-me-downs, they must be passed on, it is called tradition silly!)

9. Do I have the courage to re-invent myself in a positive manner that lets the sun shine in — into the dark recesses of my psyche and my mindsets that are mainly doom and gloom? (Yep, willing to try. Too old for this. What does it help? Doing it right now, refreshing.)

10. Finally, to use a computer software example, is my operating system (worldview and perceptions) upgradeable to become a better version of me, with a real chance to see things differently, afresh, or better than I currently do? Or is it frozen in time? (It is alive with possibility!)

These are just sample test questions, for kicks. The full test will include observed interactions with others and should take several days to verify authenticity of engagement and ability to make real connections with others.

So what’s the fuss with this connectedness thing? It would be great for the ideals of nation-building. I hear blah blah blah. No harm trying to learn a new language while at it. How many of us have learned a new language since school? It’s a great life-skill. I’m sure Rod speaks good Mandarin in Shanghai by now. It is a good personal asset, especially seeing that almost everything today comes from China.

Yes, visit the township and have a drink or two, but know where to go and when. It’s a major mindset shift this Ubuntelligence thing … If you’re brave enough, people are actually friendlier than we often think they are. It is our own fear that keeps us pinned down; it is all a matter of approach.

And, by the way, authentic Ubuntelligence connecting does not include people going to Australia for a week and then coming back home and calling everyone “mate” in a funny Aussie accent. That’s fake, mate. It doesn’t count.

I think that Ubuntelligence should be developed and used to screen all potential public representatives, especially politicians. No Ubuntelligence, forget about public office, period. It could even be a powerful weapon against rampant corruption. If you are too self-serving, go find another job elsewhere, another planet maybe.

During the fast-approaching Fifa World Cup, if you’re not friendly to foreign visitors (especially from the rest of Africa) then you’re not a real African yourself. Warmth, friendliness, a welcoming attitude and being humane and approachable, is what this is about, and it is an inside job. It starts from within, with deep introspection. Who am I? What really defines me?

If I cannot see the other for who they are and accept them as such then what am I doing here?