At CM, the belief that the power of the individual comes from the well-being of the collective is reinforced through scripture or parables. Now, another viewpoint has emerged: "Ubuntu."
For Mr. Tabi Arrey, teaching theology is a discipline that is part bible, part real-life experience. His journey from his native Cameroon to the U.S. has led him far from home, but throughout his higher education and into his professional career, Mr. Arrey understands that to care for someone is to know that person and to know that person is to know oneself.
"'Ubuntu' is a Bantu word from Sub-Saharan Africa," says Mr. Arrey. “It is a philosophical approach to life that means ‘I am because we are. Because we are therefore I am.’”
For Mr. Arrey, thinking about others before yourself can weigh heavily on a person. Nevertheless, the commitment to be there to help when someone in the group is in need is the most priceless gift anyone can provide.
“That’s why I tell the boys, ‘Put down your phones, and build relationships. Spend time on people who will be with you your entire life.’ It is what I hold dear to my heart – because ‘I am because we are. Because we are therefore I am,’” he says reciting this truism.
"Growing up in Cameroon, no one taught this. You lived it," he recalls. "I must have been 25 when my sister got married, and all of our family, uncles, and aunts came from the UK. and U.S. They all contributed. Paid for the food, the photographer… everything. Everyone helped and I understood that it is this collective cooperation that makes a family bond, and the lives of everyone in it better than if they only operated for themself.
When the boys come back from Thanksgiving or Christmas, I ask them, ‘How was your celebration? Who were you with?’ It’s a way to get to know someone…to connect. Because at the end of the day, who do you have when your mom or dad aren’t there in the middle of the night and you need to talk? Who do you have? Who do you call?
One of my high school friends back home has been very sick. My classmates and I who live abroad found out in the morning on a particular day. We got together and by the evening we had collected $3,000 for him to see a doctor. Now in my country that is a lot of money. He will receive great treatment. This is the power of Ubuntu. This is what I want my students to live out and have become a part of who they are.”