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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds Community in relation to Ubuntu. What is quite significant about the notion of community within an African philosophy of education is the idea of Ubuntu. This concept of Ubuntu is prominent on the basis that it implies when a person acts humanely towards others, she cares for others. And this means that that person exercises her responsibility towards other human beings, her fellow human beings. Likewise, when a person engages with others, she belongs with them in the spirit of human cooperation and peaceful coexistence. So Ubuntu implies caring for one another and having a responsibility towards one another in a spirit or atmosphere of human cooperation and peaceful coexistence.

Skip to 1 minute and 17 seconds Now, considering that Ubuntu emphasizes both a person’s responsibility and sense of belonging without of course relinquishing or giving up all her rights, she enacts her citizenship. So what does Ubuntu involve? In short, it involves living out or enacting one, one’s individual rights, but not necessarily at the expense of one’s responsibility to others. And this idea of Ubuntu not denying people’s individuality is misconceived because Ubuntu implies that you use your individual rights to act in defense of community. And that implies to enact your responsibility towards others. And then, of course, a responsibility towards community implies a kind of loyalty– not necessarily uncritical patriotism to the community.

Skip to 2 minutes and 31 seconds In other words, if one sees something wrong with the community, it becomes one’s individual right to point out to the community where the community or that community has erred. So Ubuntu does not mean that one uncritically shows a loyalty to the community. One’s loyalty or patriotism to community is in fact highly critical because, in this sense, one does not abandon one’s exercise of individual rights in the responsibility towards that community.

Ubuntu community

The connection between Ubuntu and community is aimed at specifying a particular kind of community. Whereas Ubuntu relates to human interdependence and humaneness, the community envisaged would be one guided by the notions of collaboration and respect for people. Hence, in this video it is argued that an Ubuntu community involves the following practices:

  • Exercising one’s individual rights without relinquishing one’s responsibility to others;

  • Enacting one’s responsibility towards the community; and

  • Showing one’s loyalty (patriotism) autonomously to the community.

Consider the following questions …

What does it means to act with Ubuntu?

Can an African community exist without Ubuntu?

If one acts patriotically towards one’s community does it mean that one does not critique one’s community?

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching for Change: An African Philosophical Approach

Stellenbosch University