This Zulu greeting has been on our tongues and in our hearts for much of the past ten years. It literally means “I see you.” More than words of politeness, sawubona carries the importance of recognizing the worth and dignity of each person. It says, “I see the whole of you—your experiences, your passions, your pain, your strengths and weaknesses, and your future. You are valuable to me.”
Sawubona is also infused with the belief that when others “see” me, then I exist. The common response is “Shiboka”, which means “I exist for you”. These are more than greetings. They’re ways to vitalize the other person by giving full attention and presence, communicating how much value they carry within them.
There are men and women around the world whose lives embody the meaning of sawubona. The past ten years, they have been our teachers. These innovators stand in the midst of chaos, holding up the mirror of worth and dignity for all, convinced they can make a profound, lasting impact in people’s lives. And they do.
It is important for our well-being – yours and mine – to see them. Not only to observe their work, but to celebrate and engage with them in the life they have chosen.
Each of us is here at Loom because not only have we seen, but we have been seen. Our lives have been blown open by the truth that our well-being is tied up with that of the most vulnerable around the world. We have learned that this is what a full life looks like, a life well spent—not protecting ourselves from pain and sacrifice, but joining others to be with them in theirs.
Sawubona. We see you.
May we have the gift to see more clearly together in the years to come.