Umuntfu, ngumuntfu, ngebantfu

Take a deep breath. Maybe close your eyes. Exhale. How are you currently responding to the state of our world?

Are you retreating inward or are you expanding outward

My brother in law made a statement in our family text chain this week, which stuck with me.

“Our individualism is biting us in our collective rear”

And yes, he said rear.

The collectivism that I have felt when spending time in South Africa, Eswatini, Zambia, and Zimbabwe is starkly different from the individualism I often feel in my day to day life in the United States. Right now, with all the photos of empty toilet paper aisles floating around, it’s hard not to see how individualistic in which some pockets of the U.S are responding (Let me shout out Baltimore City right now though because, ya’ll, we are coming together!).

Don’t get me wrong, I am very individualistic in many ways. I can be very self-reliant, I have difficulty asking for help, I am extremely competitive and achievement-oriented, I am independent. However, I am continuously looking outward as well.

With COVID-19, our individualistic or collectivist spirits are being revealed.

Pull out a piece of paper and pen and make a list with two columns.

1.) Over the past 48 hours, what have I done for myself?

2.) Over the past 48 hours, what have I done for others?

On which direction is the scale tipping? Are you focused entirely on me or are you focused on we, as well?

As a mental health therapist AND someone who experiences generalized anxiety PLEASE ensure your first column is filled. Take care of YOU. Wisdom and ensuring your immediate needs and surroundings are secure is critical; you put your mask on before assisting others, correct? However, once your mask is on, it is time to help others and it’s time to help others, as Pastor Stephen Chandler said, without your last name.

We must extend our grace, our privilege, our generosity beyond our circles to those without our own last name.

What are you doing to help others and spread a wave of generosity today, tomorrow, next month, and every single day?

It can be something that does not require you to leave your home or your pajamas.

I leave you with this photo of the children in the Fakudze family. To me, this photo represents the beauty, joy, satisfaction (you can’t say homie looking up at us with the beetroot all over his mouth isn’t satisfied), safety, support, and love of collectivism.

How are you sharing your metaphoric (or literal) pot of food? (After hand sanitizing and social distancing of course)

“Umuntfu, ngumuntfu, ngebantfu.” The direct translation is “a person is a person through people”

We are not individuals living disconnected from each other and the rest of the world and if you didn’t know that at heart level before, COVID-19 surely has shown you this. We are connected and that is a beautiful thing. We are connected and if we abuse that or ignore that fact, people die and will continue to die. Learn from and love each other. Now, go extend sanitized, at least 6 ft away grace to someone without your last name.



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Shar Hollingsworth

I am a healer and I am healing. I am a teacher and I am a learner. Curious about everything around me.