The importance of the African ethics of ubuntu and traditional African healing systems for Black South African women's health in the context of HIV and AIDS


This study takes the concept of ubuntu, which means humanness and applies it to healthcare issues in general, and women's health, in particular. Ubuntu is based on the reality of interdependence and relatedness. It is a philosophy or way of life that finds its roots and meaning in humanity. The values espoused in ubuntu emphasize caring, sharing, reciprocity, co-operation, compassion and empathy in recognition that for human beings to develop, flourish and reach their full potential, they need to conduct their relationships in a manner that promotes the well-being of others. The values championed in ubuntu are what inform and shape African cultural, social, political and ethical thought and action. The basic premise that motivates this research is that the African principle of umuntu ngamuntu ngabantu, a person is a person because of others, or John Mbiti's famous phrase, "I am because we are, and we are because I am" tends to promote caring, health and well-being for humankind. This is because it is in ubuntu that deeper, more metaphysical, explanations for encouraging care for fellow human beings are offered. The dissertation is an ethical enquiry into the importance of the African ethic of ubuntu and traditional African healing systems for black South African women's health in the context of HIV and AIDS. The research questions are: what values contained in the traditional African ethical concept of ubuntu offer the rest of the world a way of promoting an ethic of care? What role do Africa's traditional healing systems play in addressing issues of health in a way that pays attention to delivering holistic healthcare? The objective is to show how the African ethic of ubuntu and Africa's traditional healing wisdom can be applied to healthcare in general, but more specifically, to the health and healthcare needs of women. v.



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