Journal of Religious Ethics 23 (2):293-322 (1995)

Contemporary discourse on human rights in Africa constitutes an important and controversial aspect of the general discourse on African society and culture. I begin by examining the idea of human rights as a moral category and discuss its pertinence to African cultural and political life. I then analyze and discuss the two dominant positions in the current debate, namely, the communitarian and the individualist theses. I argue that both positions are inadequate because they dissociate dimensions of life that need to be interpreted in their interplay. Drawing upon samples of traditional African religious and ethical traditions, I propose a personalist theory of human rights that affirms the intrinsic individuality and sociality of the human status.
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