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Ubuntu: New model of global justice?

S E Ngoenha


Ultra-liberalism and globalization are carried by large international economic organizations.
Since the second half of the twentieth century, they have been the vectors of an
increasing injustice and have widened inequalities between rich countries and the poor
countries, the North and the South. These three meta-narratives – ultra-liberalism, globalization
and (in)justice – mobilize a growing number of intellectuals. The main question is:
can liberalism achieve a planetary justice, and, if the answer is no, which alternative model
can one think of?
Through the concept of Ubuntu (restorative justice), South Africa and African philosophy
contribute, by their specific contribution in terms of practices and theory, to the debate of
political philosophy to which justice is central. In theorizing the concept of Ubuntu, African
philosophy could bring the first important contribution of the African continent in the
philosophical – or multi-field – debate, which largely exceeds the African dimension.
By recalling the history and the bonds between the Afro-Americans and South African
Renaissance, this text develops the concept of Ubuntu and suggests how this concept
makes it possible to weave – or reweave – the relations at the planetary level rather than
to deepen wounds. By exceeding the concept of punitive justice, we can imagine globalization
not as an economic apartheid but as a world made of the recognition of one
humanity equal in dignity.

Keywords: Ubuntu, global justice, restorative justice, liberalism, political philosophy,
African philosophy model

Indilinga Vol. 5 (2) 2006: pp. 125-134