The end of ubuntu

South African Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):197-205 (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Since the advent of democracy in South Africa, there has been a concerted effort at reviving the notion of ubuntu. Variously conceived, it is seen as the authentic African ethical concept, a way of life, an authentic mode of being African, an individual ideal, the appropriate public spirit, a definition of life itself and the preferred manner of conducting public and private business. Thus, among other public displays of the spirit of ubuntu, the government of the day has deliberately chosen its service delivery mantra and its public slogan as Batho Pele to animate, or perhaps pay obeisance to, ubuntu. In this paper we seek to advance arguments that question such a public, widespread, and concerted ‘ubuntu-isation’ of the intellectual, business, public and private lives. Our project follows two main lines of reasoning. We seek to show that the aggressive promotion of ubuntu in post-apartheid South Africa is an elitist project so conceived by the new black elite. It is conceived both as a restorative move that is aimed at securing the dignity of the black masses as well as an attempt at forging a so-called black identity. This line of reasoning will rely on similar historical cases on the continent that sought to aggressively promote an African mode of being, which coincided with both the end of colonialism and the rise of black elitism. We note that such attempts always ended in very public social and political failure. We seek to question the desirability of ubuntu as a mark/guide of the spirit of the nation. Here our critique shall be concentrated on the disjunct that exists between the metaphysical conditions necessary for the attainment of ubuntu and the stark ontological and ethical crisis facing the new elite and ‘our people’



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 78,059

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Just the Beginning for Ubuntu: Reply to Matolino and Kwindingwi.Thaddeus Metz - 2014 - South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (1):65-72.
The Historical Development of the Written Discourses on Ubuntu 1.Cbn Gade - 2011 - South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):303-329.
The Bewaji, Van Binsbergen and Ramose debate on 'Ubuntu'.J. A. I. Bewaji & M. B. Ramose - 2003 - South African Journal of Philosophy 22 (4):378-414.
Ubuntu and Business Ethics: Problems, Perspectives and Prospects.Andrew West - 2014 - Journal of Business Ethics 121 (1):47-61.
In Defence of Ubuntu.Moeketsi Letseka - 2011 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 31 (1):47-60.
The Notion of Ubuntu and Communalism in African Educational Discourse.Elza Venter - 2004 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 23 (2/3):149-160.
The philosophy of ubuntu and ubuntu as a philosophy.Mogobe B. Ramose - 2002 - In P. H. Coetzee & A. P. J. Roux (eds.), Philosophy from Africa: a text with readings. Oxford University Press. pp. 230--237.
Nietzsche and Ubuntu.Rebecca Bamford - 2007 - South African Journal of Philosophy 26 (1):85-97.


Added to PP

50 (#241,922)

6 months
6 (#146,678)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Bernard Matolino
University of KwaZulu-Natal

Citations of this work

Just the Beginning for Ubuntu: Reply to Matolino and Kwindingwi.Thaddeus Metz - 2014 - South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (1):65-72.
Core aspects of ubuntu: A systematic review.C. Ewuoso & S. Hall - 2019 - South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 12 (2):93.
A response to Metz's reply on the end of ubuntu.Bernard Matolino - 2015 - South African Journal of Philosophy 34 (2):214-225.
Reconciliation.Linda Radzik & Colleen Murphy - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

View all 26 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

The historical development of the written discourses on Ubuntu.Christian Bn Gade - 2011 - South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):303-329.

Add more references