In Africa, the Nguia Ti Bé Foundation supports projects which are in harmony with the continent’s own philosophy, culture and nature. Priority will be given to projects that aim to protect Africa’s intangible heritage, indigenous knowledge and/or contribute to the development of African philosophy.
African culture has been exposed to globalisation, neo-colonialism, predatory capitalism, poverty, wars and pandemics. This has led to social, cultural and ecological dislocation as well as to a loss of indigenous knowledge and values. The foundation aims to collaborate with African philosophers, sages and traditional leaders.
In the Netherlands, the foundation promotes knowledge and understanding of African philosophy by organising lectures and workshops.
African thinking has often been associated with the word Ubuntu. It refers to an age-old and still flourishing philosophy of life. It is known by different names and manifestations throughout Africa, but the basic concept and characteristics are the same everywhere: the essence of man is his connectedness. He is connected to his family, his environment, nature, the past, the ancestors and those who are yet unborn. Man is in the middle of it and has the task to guard and restore harmony. In Ubuntu, moral development and ethical action are important. Humaneness, compassion and reconciliation are central themes. Ubuntu is the opposite of the one-sided Western individualism, rationalism and materialism.
The concept of Ubuntu is part of African philosophy. Because African thinking has many manifestations and countless local variants, there is no such thing as “THE” African philosophy. African philosophy goes far beyond the language of reason alone. It is also visible in emotion, the language of the heart, music, dance, art, stories, myths, proverbs, rituals and symbols. African thought is profound, has many spiritual and mystical levels and is continuously developing. It refers to intangible cultural heritage, does justice to Africa, empowers Africa, holds up a mirror to the West and contributes to solving current global issues (in areas such as medicine, ecology, climate change and peace building).
The Nguia Ti Bé Foundation aims to highlight the broad variety of African philosophy beyond just Ubuntu.
Examples of projects
Benin is the cradle of the Vodun culture. Respect, trust and care for each other are important values. In Vodun many aspects of life are intertwined: religion, spirituality, ethics, science, medicine, nature conservation, art and philosophy. Vodun is focussed on the goodness in people and opposed to black magic (Voodoo). In colonial times, the Vodun culture was stereotyped and heavely suppressed. Racism dominated the Western perception. In recent years there has been more recognition and appreciation.
Traditional hospitals are rooted in the Vodun culture and highly valued by the local population. The medical knowledge is centuries old and is passed down from father to son, mother to daughter. The Nguia Ti Bé Foundation supports the traditional hospital in Ayou. The hospital has good results, is maintaining good quality of care and the treatment of patients is personal and respectful. Anaesthesia and pain relief is carried out by the use of herbs and rituals. Rehabilitation, traditional physiotherapy and massages are important components. Patients pay according to their own abilities.
The Nguia Ti Bé Foundation is supporting the creation of a medicinal botanical garden and has donated locally made mattresses.
Central African Republic
Central African Republic having a weak government but a peaceful population, collapsed completely as a consequence of ongoing violence. It has often been described as a religious conflict, but in reality it is a continuing international battle for raw materials and a dramatic example of massive predatory capitalism. Nearly 1 million people were forced to flee. However, in the midst of all the aggression there were impressive examples of solidarity and compassion: Muslims helping Christian victims, Christians protecting Muslim refugees and local people helping ex-child soldiers. These are hopeful signs that the old African philosophy still exists: Zo Kwe Zo, a human is a human, being human comes first.
Nguia Ti Bé foundation was introduced to a unique local organization of 50 impoverished grandmothers and widows who took care of 100 orphans. Together the women were associated in a tontine, a traditional flexible and disciplined collective saving system, which enabled them to set up a cooperative chicken farm. Because of the war the women and children were forced to flee. The farm was ransacked and destroyed. Nguia Ti Bé supported the reconstruction of the chicken farm.
In addition, the foundation has supported the following local initiatives:
– A community based adoption programme: support for families in Mobaye and Ndomete who have adopted AIDS orphans and refugee children, orphans who have been roaming around in groups (500 in total).
– An income generating textile-dye project for adolescent orphans, heads of the family and those taking care of their younger siblings (Bangassou).
– A vocational education programme (traditional construction, -livestock, -agriculture) and toolboxes for vulnerable adolescents in Bangui and N’dowara.
– A school project of traditional African storytelling in Bangassou.
– The construction of a local clinic (in cooperation with CORDAID) and a community vegetable garden in Bangassou.
Deforestation, privatization, industrialisation, water extraction for agriculture and horticulture, fencing off of land by foreign landowners and the commercialisation of hunting have all led to large-scale destruction of nature and water shortages, especially in the Maasai Mara area. The originally prosperous Maasai pastoralists, living in balance with nature, are increasingly threatened in their nomadic existence. They have become trapped in an ever-shrinking habitat.
Public education is another threat to the Maasai culture. Indigenous knowledge has not been included in government curricula. This is why the elders of Maji Moto have decided to establish their own school, the Enketing Lepa school, where traditional knowledge forms the core of the curriculum. Nguia Ti Bé funded a part of its construction.
Uganda has taken in more than 1 million refugees who have the same rights as the Ugandans. They are allowed to settle anywhere. The Ugandan government provides them with a piece of land to cultivate. “You’re there, so you belong”. Compared to the refugees, whose status is protected, the situation of indigenous peoples is less favourable. The way of life of the Batwa pygmies in the southwest and the Karamajong in the north is seriously threatened. Their natural habitat has been lost or is constantly shrinking.
In the Karamajo region, lack of water due to climate change has been one of the main reasons for the ever-increasing violence between ethnic groups, especially near water sources. Nguia Ti Bé Foundation supported a waterproject in the troubled area.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission originated from Ubuntu principles and has been admired all over the world. However its efforts towards reconciliation have not been entirely successful. Structural inequality and segregation are still present in various aspects of society, such as land ownership, housing, healthcare and education. An example is Ethembeni in Hillcrest, a state boarding school for handicapped children, including visually impaired albino children. It is the only state school of its kind throughout Kwa Zulu Natal. The students are mainly black. Handicapped white children go to the better equipped and more expensive private schools. Ethembeni has a very dedicated staff but lacked the most essential aids. Nguia Ti Bé supported this school.
Do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to give you information about our projects, activities, lectures and workshops. We would like to hear your ideas in the field of African philosophy, indigenous knowledge and projects in Africa.
Nguia Ti Bé Foundation
Dr. J Röntgenlaan 50
3723 LC BILTHOVEN
T: 31 (0) 30 228 13 32
F: 31 (0) 84 226 86 33
IBAN : NL41 TRIO 021 21 78 652
BIC/ SWIFT :TRIONL2U.
RSIN/ KVK: 30194904.
The Nguia Ti Bé foundation was established in 2004. The foundation is a Public Benefit Organization (PBO). Board members receive no remuneration.
Text and images © M.v.d.Boer.