Amplifying Goodwill: Why You Should Participate In The #UbuntuLoveChallenge

Based on the African philosophy of ubuntu, which means "I am because we are," the #UbuntuLoveChallenge is an effort at bringing together people to combat the hardships we face right now, and thus address these problems in a collective manner, so as to realize a better future for us all.
Amplifying Goodwill: Why You Should Participate In The #UbuntuLoveChallenge
Image credit: UbuntuLoveChallenge.org

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Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East
5 min read

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It was in November of last year, at the third edition of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) organized by the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), when, while making my way around the event, I accidentally ran into H.E. Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, a trailblazing member of the Sharjah ruling family, who, among her many roles, is currently the Vice President of the International Publishers Association.

Now, I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with Al Qasimi a few times over the years- one of those instances is what led to her be featured on the cover of Entrepreneur Middle East in 2017 for her role in establishing Sheraa, but there have, of course, been other occasions where our paths crossed and it didn’t lead to anything as substantial. However, on this particular afternoon at SEF 2019, Al Qasimi surprised me by saying that she needed to apologize for something that happened the last time we met.

I was quite taken aback when Al Qasimi said this, because I couldn’t remember anything at all untoward that happened the last time we had met, which, I recalled, was at SEF’s first instalment in 2017. But then Al Qasimi recapped the whole episode for me. I had apparently seen her at the event then, and had asked her for an interview for Entrepreneur, but since she was occupied with something else at the time, she declined my request, but told me that she’d come back to chat with me later. However, as it so happened, Al Qasimi wasn’t able to do that in the end, and from my point of view, this was completely understandable- I was certain that she had probably just forgotten about my request, and/or gotten busy with other matters given the gathering we were at, and so I wasn’t really bothered about it, and I had let it go at that.

But here was Al Qasimi, two years after the above incident, apologizing to me for this apparent slight (which, I reiterate, was definitely not how I perceived it), and I couldn’t help but be struck by the consideration and goodwill she was showing me by doing so. As I said in a tweet at the time, this was “a small but remarkably thoughtful act of kindness” from Al Qasimi toward me, and I recall thinking that the world would be so much better if more of us would follow her lead when it comes to our interactions with the people around us. For instance, just imagine the effects such small but significant acts of magnanimity by each of us could have on our society and ecosystem as a whole.

I’m bringing all of this up now, because this particular occurrence (and the thoughts it left me with) was the first thing that came to my mind when I found that Al Qasimi has, together with Africa 2.0 Foundation founder Mamadou Kwidjim Touré, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, launched a global initiative called the #UbuntuLoveChallenge. Based on the African philosophy of ubuntu, which means “I am because we are,” the #UbuntuLoveChallenge is an effort at bringing together people to combat the hardships we face right now, and thus address these problems in a collective manner, so as to realize a better future for us all.

While we may be participating in it as individuals, the #UbuntuLoveChallenge aims to amplify each of our endeavors and thus broaden its reach, be it as inspiration for someone else to do the same, or simply initiate an impactful undertaking of their own. For me, the best part about the #UbuntuLoveChallenge is how it is quite open in terms of the kind of things one can attempt to do under its banner: it can be something as far-reaching as kickstarting a fund to support entrepreneurs amid the COVID-19 crisis (as done by Sheraa’s Najla Al Midfa), to something as simple as checking in on someone you haven’t heard from in a while (as done by Bahrain Development Bank’s Areije Al Shakar)- sure, their scales may be different, but there’s value to be gleaned from both of these endeavors, and boosting them can only result in good.

At the end of it all, each of our acts of compassion in these times can lead to tremendous goodwill being shared around- I remember only too well how Al Qasimi made me feel with her act of kindness last year, and I sure would love for everyone to feel the same way now through an extensive effort like the #UbuntuLoveChallenge. I’d like to invite you all to share with me how you plan to participate in the #UbuntuLoveChallenge- use the hashtag, and tag me @thisisaby on Instagram and Twitter. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with- let’s put ubuntu into action!

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