Among the tribes of Natal, South Africa, the most common salute is Sawubona.Literally, it means "I see you, you are important to me and I value you a lot". This is one way to put the other forward. To accept it as it is, with its qualities, its nuances and even its defects. In response to this greeting, people usually say "shikoba",I exist for you.
Natal was one of the four original provinces of South Africa. There was the Bantustan of Kwazulu or Zulu land.Most of the things we know about this region and its people go back to the famous war with Britain that took place at the end of the 19th century. However, storybooks hide, relegate or often omit this legacy of African peoples. A cultural, human and philosophical heritage extremely interesting and rooted in these regions.
Sawubona: All my attention is focused on you. I see you. This allows me to discover your needs, to catch a glimpse of your fears, to deepen your mistakes and to accept them. I accept you as you are and you are part of me.Share
As curious as it may seem,the term sawubona acquired a transcendence in the 90s. All thanks to a book of engineering and intelligent organizations.In "The fifth discipline in practice ",Peter Sengue, a professor at Stanford University, spoke about the Zulus. He emphasized their wonderful way of interacting and managing problems with each other. It was no coincidence that these peoples became one of the most powerful civilizations on the African continent.
Sawubona symbolized the importance of directing one's own attention to another person.It meant understanding his reality without prejudices, free of bitterness. Be aware of the needs of others to highlight the individual within the group. Integrate it as a valuable piece in the community …
Sawubona: I see you in all your reality
In our Western culture, the most common salvation is probably "hello, how are you?"We express the majority of these three words automatically and without waiting for an answer. This is a gateway to a conversation. It's a brief, well-defined salute that allows you to be seen, but to finish quickly. We rarely look in each other's eyes when we do that. Because life jostles us, pushes us and projects us more towards our own needs. It does not enjoin us to scrutinize other looks to guess real needs.
The Zulu people promote the need to see each other in a conscious and calm manner.He was looking for that moment that allowed him to maintain quiet eye contact. A contact full of feelings and listening. That let the soul of the other hug, even if it was full of dark corners. Or even if it harbored injuries and acts that required some kind of community reparation.
Sawubona is the word that conveys our trust to others. To make him understand that our attention is focused on him. To send him our genuine desire to understand him. To see his needs, his desires, his fears, his sadness, his beauties and his qualities. Because…Who would not like to be seen this way?Few things are as rewarding as valuing the other. To offer him space, a presence,an importance in our heart, group, home, community or organization.
Some see a certain resemblance between the term sawubona and the namaste of the Hindu language.More than greetings, they are bows. Even a way to illuminate the other person by communicating with his soul, exchanging wishes and reciprocities. There is immense beauty in these gestures so foreign to our world. As a healing and cathartic presence that can inspire us in our daily lives.
Let's see this in more detail.
"Shikoba", I feel relieved to know that I exist for you
When a person from the Zulu community committed an improper act, an error or an offense, his presence was required in the center of the village.His neighbors, friends, and family formed a circle. The person in question had to be in the middle. After that, the people addressed to her with the salvation sawubona, with the famous reverence. Then they reminded him of his good deeds, his qualities, his past successes and all his virtues.
For the people of Natal and the Zulu community, as for Rousseau, no man is born bad. Sometimes crises and imbalances just move us away from this center of natural goodness.The purpose of these meetings was to remind the person of the way back to the nobility.People had to show him the importance of his presence for the rest of the community.The goal was to put it forward so that it takes the path of good, harmony and joy.
So,Whenever a member of the community spoke to her with the word sawubona, the person had to answer "shikoba".This expression produced relief and happiness. The one who at first could have felt alienated from the group because of his actions now had the opportunity to reinstate him.It conceded a space, a proximity, an importance.It was time to start all over again.
The Zulus maintain the idea that human beings exist only if others see them and accept them.It's the community that makes the person.Therefore, nothing can be more satisfying than being forgiven after an error. To abandon this space of solitude that one occupies after an error to return to one's community. To enter into communion with the group by feeling loved and accepted.
Let's learn from this African tribe. Let us learn to "see", to pay attention to others as stated by salvation sawubona:I see you, I accept you as you are.Let's be able to perceive needs. To forgive mistakes. To promote cohesion between people.