To Err is Human


In the Babemba (or Bemba) tribe of South Africa, when someone does something wrong, they take the person to the centre of the village. The tribe surrounds the individual there in a large circle for two days, while each member of the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, all of the good things that he or she has done in their lifetime.

All his positive attributes, strengths, gentleness and kindnesses are recalled at length, but none fabricates or exaggerates his accomplishments. In the end, the tribal circle is broken and a celebration takes place, welcoming him back symbolically in the tribe.

The original source of this story is a book, Contact: The First Four Minutes by Leonard Zunin.

The tribe believes that each person enters this world as good, yet sometimes people make mistakes in the pursuit of love, peace, happiness etc, which are actually cries for help. They unite in this ritual to reconnect the person with his/her true nature, to remind him who he really is.

The belief is that unity and affirmations have more power to change behaviour than shame and punishment. Naming and shaming a person always create a bad blood and animosity, which may have a disastrous effect on his or her personality and psyche, leading even to depression and suicidal behaviour.

Affirmations or positive statements, by others or even by self, always help us to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts, and reprogramme our thinking patterns, that encourage us to act with new gusto and energy.

In work situations, failures or errors are essential parts of work. In fact, a failure should be treated as the first step to success, and as the cost of training. This sort of positivity helps workers believe that they are important members of the team, which will work as catalyst for higher productivity and profitability.

The best way of not committing any error is not to work at all. But is it an option, really?


–Kaushal Kishore

26 Comments

  1. Wow KK this is so kewl! I wish I was raised in the Babemba tribe. This is an awesome tradition🙂. I tell my employees at work to own and look for the opportunity for improvement and growth in every mistake error blunder and screw up. I see they work more freely and creatively to solve problems as well as produce better work with this freedom. I’ve lived my whole live in fear and bondage. I’m done with that and won’t ever promote control of another thru fear embarrassment guilt harsh punishment or shame. Thanks as always for the good news/report 🗞️😊 I love good 📰 news🙏 God bless you 🙌

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The strategy adopted by you gives an opportunity to your workers to resort to innovation without any fear of getting reprimanded. An open culture is always congenial for better work. Thanks for going through this post and sharing your own beautiful experience. Stay blessed 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Stunning community spirit in restoring a fallen kinsman.

    I wish the whole world would implement that practice to remove focus on all the wrongs a person had done. Instead highlight their positive to cleanse them. We would see less friction and rancor among humans.

    May God help humanity. Amen 🙏🏾
    Thank you for sharing, my extremely gifted friend. 👌🏿👌🏿🌹

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You are right, good things and practices should be emulated across the globe to make this world a better and peaceful place to live in. Thanks for your kind words 🙏 I also admire the positivity in all the posts of yours. God bless you!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For folks like you, I’m profoundly grateful for Word Press word.

        You support and inspire. They mean so much. Thank ever so much. 🙏🏾🙏🏾

        Many blessings are yours. Amen 💐🌹

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind and encouraging words that mean a lot to me. I also learn a lot of things from you. It’s mutual. Thank you.

      Like

  3. I am familiar with your story of the community practices of the South African Bemba tribe and have considered what a powerful lesson this is. I previously taught in a HS that promoted positive affirmations and, if practiced regularly, doing so truly raises motivation, connection, and improved behavior. Thank you for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this… I read about something like this happening in the Mumbai slums, in the novel Shantaram. I don’t know if it mirrored real life there or not, but it was written very realistically and made so much sense… to confront, peacefully, to intervene where there is wrong, to support, to nurture positive change… absolutely. This is the ideal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that novel was quite voluminous and centred around Mumbai underworld. But frankly speaking, I had been in Mumbai for almost 15 years, I didn’t come across a practice like South African tribe. May be I’ve missed out. But thank you for taking time to read the post and to share your beautiful thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was indeed… too voluminous, in my humble opinion. Would have been best separated into two books, instead of two parts in one book. Very cool to hear your real-experienced opinion. I always wonder what the feeling is around that novel, in India. You’re very welcome, and thanks for your kind reply :)) xo

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are right. It takes around two days if one decides to read it at a stretch. But it’s interesting and turns of events are very realistic. Thanks for your interest and response.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is really fascinating, but sadly, it has been mentioned very less, except in some management topics, that too as a passing reference. Contrary to this, Ubuntu has been discussed and given more prominence.

      Liked by 1 person

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