In the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the ‘accused’ individual.
Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, about all the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy is recounted. All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length.
The ceremony sometimes lasts several days.
The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as a good.
Each one of us only desiring safety, love, peace and happiness.
But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes.
The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help.
They unite then to lift him, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he had been temporarily disconnected: “I am good.”
NABAJYOTISAIKIA, is a compliment used in South Africa and means:
“I respect you, I cherish you. You matter to me.”
In response, people say SHIKOBA, which is: “So, I exist for you.”
This ritual contributes to what is said to be a rare occurrence of antisocial or criminal behavior in the Babemba tribe.
Imagine how a version of this could benefit your own social circles, family and classrooms – maybe not done formally, but symbolically – holding each person with loving compassion and respect, seeing the highest and best in others, instead of judging and condemning them.
Our pure hearts know that the way to truly heal and thrive, in sustainable ways that support the whole, is through the power of loving and seeing the best in ourselves and each other; And, in having compassion for the times we forget who we are, which all of us at some time or another tend to do.