Celebrating World Social Work Day: 16 March 2021

Posted on March 19, 2021

On 16 March 2021, social work academics and students joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Social Work Day (WSWD) with the theme ‘Ubuntu: Strengthening social solidarity and global connectivity’. March is celebrated worldwide as Social Work Month. The origin of celebrating social work dates back to 1983 when representatives of the International Federation for Social Workers (IFSW) proposed bringing social workers as partners into the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York. It was the start of an annual celebration of a United Nations Social Work Day. In an additional initiative in 2007, the IFSW launched a World Social Work Day, which is celebrated by social work practitioners, educators and students across many regions and countries every year on the third Tuesday in March.


WSWD is celebrated around a particular theme for a period of two years. The theme is linked to the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development, which is a joint agenda for the International Association for Schools of Social Work (IASSW), the International Council for Social Welfare (ICSW) and the IFSW. The Global Agenda for the first decade, 2010 to 2020, was concluded in July 2020 and the Global Agenda for the next ten years was launched in November 2020, committing social work and its partners, globally, nationally and regionally, to actively work with people, communities and social movements to advance the ten-year agenda with the overarching theme of ‘Co-building inclusive social transformation’. The ten-year framework and respective themes of the Global Agenda are the result of a two-year consultation process with the constituencies of the three international bodies and their regional and country-specific associations.


The theme for 2021 and 2022, ‘Ubuntu: Strengthening social solidarity and global connectedness’ was celebrated worldwide on 16 March 2021. Ubuntu, as a principle for enhancing social solidarity and recognising global connectedness, is central to shared and sustainable futures that highlight shared responsibility among all peoples and the environment. It lays the foundation for the promotion of an inclusive process of developing new social agreements between governments and the populations they serve. The new social agreement is aimed at facilitating universal rights, opportunities, freedom and sustainable well-being for all people nationally, regionally and globally.


Ubuntu is a word, concept and philosophy that resonates with the social work and social development perspectives of the interconnectedness of all peoples and their environments. Ubuntu also highlights indigenous knowledge and wisdom, and by accepting it as a global framework for social work, the Africa region invited all nations and populations to use an equivalent word or concept that speaks to their cultures in promoting the theme ‘Ubuntu: I am because we are’.


The Department of Social Work and Criminology celebrated WSWD online. Students shared their views and poems on Ubuntu on video clip inserts. Guest speaker Jaco Strydom, head of Echo Youth, spoke on the theme ‘From brokenness to community’ in relation to youth. Youth who become disconnected from society find a home at Echo homes, places where they experience the meaning of ‘everyone needs someone who is crazy about him/her’. No matter who you are or what you have done, people need unconditional love. When youth’s lives become broken over a long time, they need time to heal. No matter what they do, they want to be loved unconditionally and to come home after school or work to a community where they feel connected.


In her presentation, Mpumi Maesela, the country director of Sizanani Camp Life Skills, emphasised how they reach out to children with their souls; they know how to relate, to feel, and to carry their stories. She highlighted that Ubuntu is now more relevant than ever before and that they live Ubuntu every day by working with vulnerable children to heal their broken lives.


Listening to the voices of the youth and children is central in recognising their humanity and dignity. Guided by ethical principles, social work practitioners and educators play an essential role in connecting people, communities and systems, in co-designing and co-building sustainable communities, and in promoting inclusive social transformation. For the next two years, ‘Ubuntu: Strengthening social solidarity and global connectedness’ will serve as the theme of international and regional conferences, research and social work teaching programmes across many countries and regions.






You have walked a journey far greater than us

A journey filled with tears and scars hard to burry in our  hearts

Through those dark days you kept illuminating your light far beyond the womb of the darkness

Through segregated hearts and souls you stood still 

Through seasonal changes you adapted nicely

You became a pillar of strength to some of us during conflicts and fights 

Exchange of  words like bullets

 you became a bullet proof 

ONLY to seek peace  and understanding..

  AND it's a been a while since someone wrote a poem about you


"UBUNTU"is the essence of being

That create ties within human bonds,

Unbreakable far beyond human imagination.


Written by Patrick Baloyi




Written by Tinyiko Nkuna


The human race birthed Ubuntu from hearts filled with love and compassion

Ubuntu was nurtured by diverse people holding each other hand in hand

Reaching a point of empowerment, uplifting each other from the ground up


Ubuntu is the glue that binds us together, breaking every division

It is what brings forth unity among the human race

Ubuntu is the remedy to hopelessness, brokenness, emptiness and helplessness

As it is a kind of medicine bringing hope, wholeness and assistance to those in need


Ubuntu is that friend to bring warmth to a cold and dark place where loneliness lingers

It is what keeps people going by putting a smile on their faces and warmth in their


Ubuntu matures when people understand and practice it daily as a way of life

It is a part of humanity, like the breath we need to breathe

It is a source of life for any relationship and interaction formed


Ubuntu is a seed for brotherhood and sisterhood in the human race

It is the heart that pumps love, compassion and peace into the relationship among

diverse people. It germinates and grows in the soil of hearts that have been previously hardened by

pain and distress

Until the revelation of a kind of love and union of Ubuntu that softens the heart


Ubuntu is the step to social justice and equality

It brings about acceptance of difference, the need for equity and fair chances for all

Ubuntu is a source of empowerment among the weak and underprivileged,

Who are not self-reliant and is an enhancement of the essence of humanity

For those born of privilege

Ubuntu is for one and all and we need to nurture it.




6 different colours on the rainbow but all of them appear to be grey,

The clouds Mesh up in the absence of the sun, Drought swallows up the water we so

desperately need when we quench for thirst, disease affects what remains.

The Rainbow Nation is nothing more than a Rainbow Nation.

Alas these early birthpains, one could not begin to fathom out the ongoing events that


Inhuman, INhuman, INHUMAN!

Greed, Lust, Envy, Hate.

The same hatred that is a product of shame.

The threats to inflict harm, the smirk of a viper at the very sound of murder, the power

struggles in politics leading to corrupt behaviour, the never ending persecution of the

churches, the pigmentation of one's skin along with false stereotypes - that, Blacks are

criminals, Indians are uncivilized terrorists, Asians eyes are on the low so they look the

same, White people despite their privilege are uneducated et cetera, the unending

bloodshed of babies, cannibalism towards our own kind and our sisters that have to

"endure" the suffering and having their rights revoked after the rape!

Where have we gone wrong?

Apparently, it just so happens that during periods of uncertainty hope, love and peace

are what make us strong, the reason we are existent and it's our form of attack. 

As mankind, if we work as a solid unit then we can revive the term umuntu ngumuntu


The Logic of Colonialism in Africa from the West will not stand; this philosophy of the

1900s will not end in vain.

With positivity all around us we can free ourselves from the shackles of a broken and

cursed world.

We are better together, 

I am because you are – Ubuntu


Written by Batsirai Chigaazira




I can only dream as far as I have seen

Following the path paved by those who have walked It before me.

I find strength in your perseverance

Harvesting the fruit from what you had to experience.

Being an unconsented witness to the ruins that command your attention

Your eyes embraced the sadness and you remained meek,

never wavered in the presence of the storm no matter how bleak.


I hope you see the underlying truth

Though they try to keep it hidden,

the inevitable has already been written.

That these bonds have not been gently placed

But strongly cemented.

Though things seem easily broken,

I hope you see the truth that anything interfused with the spell of love

Can never be easily unhinged even by the forces above.

Intertwined like the earth and sky

An amalgamation with redemptive impact that only we can unwind.


Compassion is birthed

At the strain on our hearts at the sight of war

And the sound of our blood being subject to a pain unworn,

Breeding a fire that will not be quenched until

The prophesy to become the epitome of peace is fulfilled.

Its an unquestionable vision

And as I wait and work the mission,

I pray your hearts will not grow cold

As we watch and wait for these dreams to unfold.


- Author Prof Antoinette Lombard

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