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Title: Ubuntu heroorweeg
Author(s): LOUW, Dirk
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Filosofie
Volume: 77    Issue: 1   Date: 2015   
Pages: 7-26
DOI: 10.2143/TVF.77.1.3078130

Abstract :
The African ubuntu ethic upholds the identification with, and compassion for, others. As such, many have hailed it as the antidote for Africa’s (and the world’s) social ailments. However, the author argues that ubuntu harbours a number of controversies, which suggests that it needs critical and creative re-evaluation. These controversies centre around: (i) the existence of ubuntu, (ii) so-called 'bi-polar thinking' (i.e. thinking that pits Africa against the West), (iii) the aim of consensus and the concomitant danger of hegemony, (iv) the inclusivity of the ubuntu community, (v) ubuntu’s religious roots, and (vi) ubuntu’s potential to accommodate plurality and individuality. The author concludes that for those who are willing to rearticulate ubuntu critically and imaginatively, this ancient wisdom has a great deal to offer to the many challenges facing contemporary African society. The ideal of an African Renaissance does not call for the romanticization of an indigenous past, but for countering a restrictive culturalism with an emancipatory understanding of African communalism.

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