Hakuna Matata

The origin of the phrase is Swahili. Hakuna means "there is/are not" or "no," and matata is a plural form of "trouble" or "entanglement." It can also be defined as "everything is okay or no worries."  You may be familiar with the song Hakuna Matata from the Disney movie “The Lion King”.  The phrase is much richer than the carefree, vagabond life a Disney warthog and meerkat suggest.

Hakuna matata is a tenant of the philosophy of Ubuntu.  Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term meaning "humanity". It is often translated as "I am because we are," and also "humanity towards others", but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity".  From Zimbabwe, the concept was taken over in South Africa in the 1990s as a guiding ideal for the transition from apartheid to majority rule. The term appears in the Epilogue of the Interim Constitution of South Africa (1993), "there is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimization".

Archbishop Desmond Tutu explained Ubuntu in 2008:

“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.

We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity”.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.  14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. - 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 (RSV)

So what does the Ubuntu tenant of Hakuna Matata have to do with us?

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, [b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

No worries!

Mark Autterson

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