Revisiting The Traditional African Cultural Framework Of Ubuntuism: A Theoretical Perspective

  • LJ Nyaumwe
  • Q Mkabela
Keywords: Ubuntuism, moral philosophy, individualism.


This paper is an attempt to re-examine a culturally located social schema of ubuntuism. Ubuntuism is a moral philosophy of traditional African societies. To put the paper into perspective, first, a conceptual analysis of ubuntu is presented. This analysis provides understanding of the concept in ways that facilitate readers to develop an appreciation of the moral philosophy that bound together traditional African communities. The purpose for re-examining the concept of ubuntuism is presented so as to stimulate awareness of how and why traditional African communities maintained high moral standards rather than advocating a return to the past African living style. Romanticism of ubuntuism in the general practice of cultural values is presented next, drawing examples from successful areas where cooperative activities were conducted. Later, the bad effects of the influence of westernization are presented showing that the values initially perceived as modernization later turned to be a weapon that promoted the perpetuation of individualism, greedy, and erosion of some traditional African cultural values leading to moral decadence in some citizens. Blending of modernization and ubuntuism is later presented with the hope that the blending may reduce the social evils such as crime, corruption, and treatment of the HIV/Aids scourge that are prevalent in some African countries with a united front. Resuscitating ubuntuism in the young generation is presented towards the end of the paper through promotion of cooperation among students learning subjects using local contexts. The conclusion of the paper focuses on some challenges that future discourse on ubuntuism could focus on and the implications of the paper to African educators on the continent.

Keywords: Ubuntuism, moral philosophy, individualism.

Indilinga Vol. 6 (2) 2007 pp. 152-163

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eISSN: 1683-0296