Ubuntu and the Reconstitution of Community

9780253042101: Hardback
Release Date: 16th May 2019

9780253042118: Paperback
Release Date: 16th May 2019

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 240

Series World Philosophies

Indiana University Press

Ubuntu and the Reconstitution of Community

Edited by
James Ogude
Hardback / £86.00
Paperback / £39.00

Ubuntu is premised on the ethical belief that an individual's humanity is fostered in a network of human relationships: I am because you are; we are because you are. The essays in this lively volume elevate the debate about ubuntu beyond the buzzword it has become, especially within South African religious and political contexts. The seasoned scholars and younger voices gathered here grapple with a range of challenges that ubuntu puts forward. They break down its history and analyze its intellectual surroundings in African philosophical traditions, European modernism, religious contexts, and human rights discourses. The discussion embraces questions about what it means to be human and to be a part of a community, giving attention to moments of loss and fragmentation in postcolonial modernity, to come to a more meaningful definition of belonging in a globalizing world. Taken together, these essays offer a rich understanding of ubuntu in all of its complexity and reflect on a value system rooted in the everyday practices of ordinary people in their daily encounters with churches, schools, and other social institutions.


Introduction / James Ogude

1. The African Bantu Concept of Ubuntu in the Christian Theology and Praxis of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and its Implications for Global Justice and Human Rights / Aloo Osotsi Mojola

2. Crafting Ideal Conditions: "Ubuntu" and the Challenges of Modern Society / D. A. Masolo

3. The Art of Personhood: Kinship and Its Social Challenges / Bhekizizwe Peterson

4. The Philosophy of Ubuntu and the Notion of Vital Force / Niels Weidtmann

5. Rethinking Ubuntu / Dirk J. Louw

6. Ubuntu and Oruka's Humanitarian View of Punishment / Oriare Nyarwath

7. Ubuntu and Buen Vivir: A Comparative Approach / Anke Graness

8. Ubuntu and Christianity / Augustine Shutte

9. Ubuntu, Reconciliation in Rwanda and Returning to Personhood through Collective Narrative / Anna-Marie de Beer

10. Utu/Ubuntu and Community Restoration: Narratives of Survivors in Kenya's 2007 Post-election Violence / James Ogude and Unifier Dyer


Anna-Marie de Beer is a lecturer in French and Francophone studies at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

Unifier Dyer is a Research Assistant with the Centre for the Advancement for Scholarship at the University of Pretoria and is an MA/PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Anke Graness is Elise Richter Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Vienna (Austria), and project leader of a FWF-funded research project on the History of Philosophy in Africa at the University of Vienna. She is the author of Das menschliche Minimum. Globale Gerechtigkeit aus afrikanischer Sicht: Henry Odera Oruka. She is editor (with K. Kresse) of Sagacious Reasoning: H. Odera Oruka in memoriam and editor (with F. Gmainer-Pranzl) of Perspektiven interkulturellen Philosophierens. Beiträge zur Geschichte und Methodik von Polylogen.

Dirk J. Louw teaches African Philosophy, Applied Ethics and Philosophical Counselling in the Department of Philosophy of Stellenbosch University (South Africa). He is also a clinical psychologist and former editor of the South African Journal of Philosophy.

D. A. Masolo is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Louisville. Masolo is author of Self and Community in a Changing World (a finalist for the Melville Herskovts Award for the Best Scholarly book published on/about Africa in the English language in the year) and African Philosophy in Search of Identity. He is editor (with Ivan Karp) of African Philosophy as Cultural Inquiry.

Aloo Osotsi Mojola is a professor of philosophy and translation studies at St Paul's University, Limuru, Kenya and an honorary professor as well as research associate, Faculty of Theology, Pretoria University, South Africa. He is author of God Speaks In Our Own Languages: Bible Translation in East Africa 1844–1998.

Oriare Nyarwath is a Senior Lecturer of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya. He is author of Traditional Logic: An Introduction.

James Ogude is a Senior Research Fellow and the Director at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship, University of Pretoria. Until his recent appointment he was a Professor of African Literature and Cultures in the School of Literature, Language and Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, serving as the Head of African Literature and also Assistant Dean – Research, in the Faculty of Humanities. He is author of Ngugi's Novels and African History: Narrating the Nation and he has co-edited a total of four books and one anthology of African stories, including most recently Rethinking Eastern African Literary and Intellectual Landscapes.

Bhekizizwe Peterson is a professor of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and a director of Natives At Large Film and Television Production Company. His publications include Missionaries and African Intellectuals: African Theatre and the Unmaking of Colonial Marginality, Zulu Love Letter: A Screenplay and (with Janet Remmington and Brian Willan) Sol Plaatje's Native Life in South Africa: Past and Present. He is the writer and/or producer of internationally acclaimed films including Fools, Zulu Love Letter, and Zwelidumile (all directed by Ramadan Suleman) and Born into Struggle, The Battle for Johannesburg, and Miners Shot Down (all directed by Rehad Desai).

Augustine Shutte was an Honorary Research Associate in the Philosophy Department of the University of Cape Town. He was author of Ubuntu: An Ethics for a New South Africa. Dr. Shutte passed on in 2016.

Niels Weidtmann is Director of the interdisciplinary institute Forum Scientiarum at the University of Tübingen. His research interests are in intercultural philosophy, phenomenology, hermeneutics, anthropology, and the philosophy of science. He is author of Interkulturelle Philosophie. Aufgaben – Dimensionen – Wege, editor of several book series and has published a wide range of articles. Weidtmann is a board member of the International Society of Intercultural Philosophy and editor of the online journal polylog.org.

James Ogude is Senior Research Fellow and Director at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship, University of Pretoria. He is author of Ngugi's Novels and African History: Narrating the Nation.


These essays offer more focused treatments of ubuntu with reference to relatively specific topics and issues. A first-rate and vibrant discussion.


Barry Hallen, author of The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: Discourse about Values in Yoruba Culture