Jacaranda in Lusaka

“Brighton, how many people, friends and family, would you say you support in some way through your job?”

“Oh…maybe a dozen at minimum. Just today before I picked you up there were six requests. People needed money for food, hospital stay unexpected. If someone needs to stay at hospital for 3 days and it’s 50 Kwacha a day ($3,85), how can you not?”

And right there was the answer. 

“How can you not?”

Each employed person with a solid wage in Zambia (unemployment is 85%) supports on average 20 family and friends. That is not a typo. At our hotels so far, that’s 450 employees or 9000 ripples in the pond. 

“Why don’t you save money?”, I asked Brighton. 

“Because they need food or medicine. How could I not?”

In Ndebele there is a saying, “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.” It is part of the concept of Ubuntu. It means ‘a person Is because of other people.’ Simply, the purpose of something or someone is not for ourselves but to serve others and change the world around us. Ubuntu is an idea present in African spirituality that says “I am because we are”, we are all connected, we cannot be ourselves without community, health and faith always lived out among others, and an individual’s well being is caught up in the well being of others.

Don’t waste good, because someone is without. Be kind to others, because they hurt. Give because others need. I used to think Zambians were generous to a fault. But in fact they live as if everyone is family. 

I am because we are. It is being reminded to do whatever one can do for those less fortunate. Teaching so that the ripples in the pond cast from the single tiny pebble and continue onward and outward. 

“How can you not?”

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