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This definition seems to be taken from Wikipedia, which says:

A rough translation in English could be "humanity towards others," or "I am because we are," or "A person 'becomes human' through other persons," or also, "A person is a person because of other persons." Another translation could be: "The belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity."

The dictionary at, however, simply says it means "humanity". This seems a bit more likely to me, considering that it's simply the root -ntu "person" with an abstract noun prefix.

Can anyone show that it does actually have this ideological meaning in Zulu and Xhosa? --Ptcamn 05:34, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

The simple meaning is humanity, but ubuntu has a much richer meaning than the English word. It means humanity (all of mankind), humanity in the sense of human nature, humanity in the sense of the quality of being human and humane, humanity in the sense of education (especially a classical, philosophical education), humanity in the sense of civility and socialization, and humanity in the sense of humaneness, decency and human dignity. So, the "rough" translations really are not too far afield. —Stephen 13:19, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
The word is well understood in S.A. to mean humanity to others. Probably a more precse definition would be humanism. It is My ward is Xhosa and I will find out the root meanings from him, but as far as I know, 'u' is the singular prefix and 'aba' / 'ama' is the plural. Hence umuntu person abantu people. Ubuntu would therefore denote oneness of people. Andrew massyn 05:52, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

He confirmed the basic premise, but he is 16 and more interested in girls, so I checked out the internet.

There are several interesting philosophical articles confirming this approach. See for e.g. :[1] and "Ubuntu is actually two words in one. It consists of the prefix ubu and the stem ntu. Ubu evokes the idea of being in general. It is enfolded being before it manifests itself in the concrete form or mode of exstence of a particular entity. In this sense ubu is always oriented towards ntu. At the ontological level there is no strict separation between ubu and ntu. 3 Ubu and ntu are mutually founding in the sense that they are two aspects of being as a oneness and an indivisible whole-ness [2]

I will add these cites to the article page.

Rfvpassed. Andrew massyn 05:47, 16 September 2006 (UTC)