Last month I watched I Am Because We Are (IMDB · Wikipedia · official website · YouTube), a documentary produced by Madonna about the issues in the African country of Malawi, and I believe many people will be interested in the ways the film connects to the GNOME Project.
The most obvious connection is the Ubuntu philosophy, which emphasizes how important it is to be part of the community. It is cited in the documentary as one of the strengths of people in Malawi. Orphans are cared by other people in the village, and travelers don’t need to carry much food because they will be fed wherever they stop. I believe we all agree that the Ubuntu philosophy is very similar to the free software philosophy. By collaborating with other people, rather than competing with them, we all grow stronger. Suddenly the Linux distribution name became much more touching.
Nobel prize winning Archbishop Desmond Tutu appears on the documentary explaining the Ubuntu philosophy, and a few days latter I saw another documentary with him, about Nelson Mandela and the end of the apartheid in South Africa. When the apartheid ended, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created to bring amnesty and/or condemnation to crimes against human rights, it was frequently necessary to have simultaneous translation to make people from the same country understand each other. It of course reminded me of the importance of the work of Zuza Software Foundation, making free software accessible to people in a country that speaks 11 different official languages.
Back to the documentary about Malawi, it has a very interesting structure. During most of the film, we are presented to the many problems at the country, like poverty, lack of access to health care, AIDS, orphanhood and violence. Then we are presented to the Ubuntu philosophy, with plenty of demonstration of how it is a strength of people in Malawi (and other African countries), and finally we know about Raising Malawi, a charity which helps orphans and other people study and recover their self-efficacy. That is very much how non-profit organizations usually convince other people to donate money or get involved. I believe that it shouldn’t be exactly a new idea for the GNOME Marketing Team, but anyway I couldn’t resist sharing the overall concept to my fellow Planet GNOME readers and bloggers.
I’ll try not to get too much personal here, but I’ll tell you I was really touched by the documentary, and it really made me want to to make a difference. (And my day job already is bringing quality health care to socially disavantaged people!) If you have one and a half hour to watch a video on YouTube, I really recommend seeing I Am Because We Are.