Being not doing


In the Kichagga language of the Chagga people of Kilimanjaro the word used in greeting is “kaapho”. Literally it means, “be there”, and in question form it would mean, “are you there?”. This can be compared to the (South African) Zulu greeting, “Sawubona”, meaning, “I see you”, to which the response is, “Ngikhona”, meaning, “I am here”.

Kaapho and Sawubona, and ngikhona – and, indeed many similar expressions among different tribes of the world – carry profound deep meaning. Acknowledging a person, “be there”, or “I see you” signifies the totality of the person – personality, individuality, dignity, well-being, specialness, and so on. It is recognition in its fullest, devoid of negativity, reductionism, or lacking.

Think of it in contrast to the western expression, “how are you doing?” and even the more formal, “how are you?”. For, if we were to take the time to hear the responses that would come from the inquiry “how” we would certainly be overwhelmed! Typically, it is complaints about not feeling well, exhaustion from work, financial inadequacies, health issues and teenager challenges and so on.

What we learn from unpolluted humanity is that life is about being; it is experiential rather than performance. That is where all goodness proceed from.

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