Bone Tools

by Sistah Shoop


Sistah Shoop closed the book, dropped it on the floor, turned off her light and rolled over in her bed, burying her face in a pillow so the others in her home would not be disturbed.  She wept.

In her heart of hearts she understood how some men evolved from the use of bone tools and why others had not.  Yet there were no words she could find to communicate just why that was.  She had looked into the eyes of her friends many times wondering just how she was to communicate it.  It was there, the understanding, she could see it, but just how does one go about explaining it?

Shoop cried not out of sadness, but from joy.  The joy of thinking she had the words; she merely had to find them.  Perhaps they could not be her own and she could live with that.  Shoop felt her job was just being able to communicate.

It was all in a single word.  Ubuntu.  Its simple translation: /A person is a person through other people/.  But would they understand? Shoop wondered.  If not today, then another will come along.

Bishop Desmond Tutu explains that Ubuntu means "that you are bound up with others in the bundle of life, for a person is only a person through other persons."  That which defines our humanity is other people.  When one person suffers, the whole of humanity suffers.  Other people define our own worth.  If we do not value those other people and their lives, then the value of our own humanity and our own lives is diminished.  Ubuntu is about being truly human.  It refers to gentleness, to compassion, to hospitality, to openness to others, to vulnerability, to being available to others....  And so we search for this ultimate attribute and reject ethnicity and other such qualities as irrelevancies.  A person
is a person because he recognizes others as persons.

Sistah Shoop embraced evolution from bone tools to the technology and innovations that were a part of her life today.  She smiled at her keyboard.  And she would embrace the other evolutions of man, as well; the ones that would come about in our human hearts.  She understood there were some people who were here that would never mind the archaic tools they used, it was all irrelevant as long as they could embrace their neighbor.

Steven Biko wrote: The cornerstone of society is man himself - not just his welfare, not his material wellbeing, but just man himself with all his ramifications.  We reject the power-based society of the Westerner that seems to be ever concerned with perfecting their technological know-how while losing out on their spiritual dimension.  We believe that in the long run the special contribution to the world by Africa will be in this field of human relationship.  The great powers of the world may have done wonders in giving the world an industrial and military look, but the great gift still has to come from Africa - giving the world a more human face.

Sistah Shoop wondered just how long it would take to evolve a human-centered idea of community.  The greater evolution is not the bone tool to the spoon to the bull dozer, but more about the growth of the human spirit, of man himself.  Ubuntu, she thought as she smiled and drifted off to sleep, knowing it was the African way of life.

Shoop 2005/03

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