Ubuntu Week on Campus

Monday, October 1, 2012

  • Beth Ann Fischer performing some spoken word poetry (courtesy photo)

    Beth Ann Fischer performing some spoken word poetry (courtesy photo)

  • Rene Meshake sharing his experiences with music and art (courtesy photo)

    Rene Meshake sharing his experiences with music and art (courtesy photo)

Written by Abigel Lemak

Last week students were invited to celebrate Ubuntu through a series of events held in the University Centre, from talks surrounding the arts, to spirituality and community innitiatives. Campus Ubuntu meets once a week every Friday in the Raithby house to discuss how diversity and oneness can be achieved on campus and in the community.

“Thats what ubuntu’s all about, its about connectedness,” said Marty Molengraaf, Campus Ubuntu Coordinator. “It’s about collaborating with as many groups on campus who are also celebrating that connectedness.”

The word ubuntu stems from the aboriginal people of South Africa, meaning compassion, interdependence and communal well-being. 

Last Wednesday on Arts and Culture Day, Campus Ubuntu invited local artist and Aboriginal Elder Rene Meshake to talk about the relationship between art and ubuntu.

“The flute has it’s own language and it’s very universal,” said Meshake. “I could play in Russia and they would understand me.”

The universalness of music and visual art seemed central to Meshake’s talk as he explained his relationship to his flute, his art and how it helps him connect with the people around him. This notion of connectedness kept reappearing as Molengraaf took to the stage, thanking Meshake and all those who attended the event.

“Ubuntu, really encourages us to recognize our connection to each other, our relation to each other and our shared humanity,” said Molengraaf.

Following Meshake were some spoken word performances by Truth Is and Beth Ann Fischer, bringing the importance of diversity, acceptance and shared humanity back to Ubuntu Week. Their spoken word pieces echoed in the UC, prompting students to pause and listen as they passed by.

“I will walk into any room and I will perform my poetry because if there is someone who kind of gets it, it will connect everyone on the idea that we’re all human,” said Truth Is. 

Ubuntu week filled the UC with a series of events meant to provoke and inspire students to work towards making Guelph a compassionate community that celebrates differences and learns from different cultures and religions. With more students enrolling each year, the University of Guelph increasingly serves as a centre for diversity. Celebration weeks like Ubuntu seem important in communicating the value of connectedness and promoting not simply a tolerant, but a thriving diverse university environment.

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