Ancient Wisdom: The Forgiveness Ritual of the Babemba Tribe

In his book "The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace," Jack Kornfield, an internationally renowned Buddhist teacher, describes a very interesting and unique ritual of forgiveness of the African Babemba trib.


"In the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman, and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual.


Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, each recalling the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy, is recounted.  All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and acts of kindness are recited carefully and at length. This tribal ceremony often lasts for several days.

 Tribul Babemba

Picture Credit: Tribe Babemba (

In the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe," Jack Kornfield writes in his book.


This story teaches us a lot about the wisdom of simple people. In our increasingly fast-paced and sophisticated world, we have forgotten to forgive and we have forgotten that without forgiveness it is difficult for someone to achieve the peace of mind that we all long for.


Many times, someone's bad deed erases in our minds all the good things he or she has done. Disappointed with someone's behavior at some point, we tend to forget that a person can not be reduced only to a mistake or injustice he or she committed. We have to see the person in the light of all the deeds that define him, many of these being good deeds.

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