Ubuntu – I Am Because We Are

Having grown up in South Africa, and then spending more than 20 years in different countries in Europe, Marcel and I appreciate the cultural differences that we’ve experienced between people who choose to work-to-live and those who live-to-work.

A generalisation, but it seems that those “living-to-work” focus more on competing with an “elbows-out, me-first” approach. Unsurprising from a Western perspective, as from a very early age, we’re encouraged to compete, to always be number 1, and to tower above the rest. Even if it means trampling people on the way up with the adage, ‘It’s business, not personal.’

Freelancers and entrepreneurs who work-to-live appreciate the value of community, and understand that collaboration is more sustainable. Building trust and relationships with a long term goal of abundance for all. This community spirit is beautifully captured in the African expression, “If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together.

What is Ubuntu?

The African word roughly translates to “my humanity is bound up in yours. I am only because we are”.

A fun tale explaining the philosophy of Ubuntu
The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu talks about the essence of being human

The essence of being human. A solitary human being is a contradiction in terms. I can’t be a human being on my lonesome. I wouldn’t know how to speak as human being, I wouldn’t know how to think as a human being. I wouldn’t know how to walk as a human being. I have to learn from other human beings how to be human. And so, Ubuntu says, “My humanity is bound up in yours. I am only because you are.” We then see that a person is a person to other persons. And that we need this communal harmony if we are going to survive at all. Anger, revenge and bitterness are corrosive of this harmony. You know it. You experience it when you are really angry with someone, it does something to your tum-tum. And it does something to your blood pressure. So forgiving is not actually being altruistic. You’re not being nice to the other guy. When you forgive, you’re actually being nice to yourself. Forgiving, apart from everything else, is good for your health.

Desmond Tutu

Inspiration for NetNomads Community

As Self-Employed Entrepreneurs, we built our flooring business in the Netherlands, as most people do – by ourselves. Learning non-core skills that seemed to take forever, becoming a “jack-of-all-trades”. Although excellent all-round knowledge, it’s not necessarily the best use of our time.

Over the years, we’ve worked with various small businesses who also struggle with trying to do it all. Then a vision came to us to create a platform for people to be able to support each other in a fair and fun way. Where we can help each other grow in all aspects of life. Together. As a community.