You know Ubuntu as an operating system. Mandela knew it as his life’s mission.

Yet the system’s name didn’t spring from nowhere. It’s inspired by a notion that’s even less tangible than a bunch of ones and zeroes; it describes, Obama said, the extent of Mandela’s compassion.

There is a word in South Africa — Ubuntu, a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: His recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us. … He not only embodied Ubuntu, he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.