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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsAfrican philosophy of education-- that is African thinking and doing-- is related a, to moral justice, and b, to compassionate justice. In this presentation, we extend the idea of justice, which is very uniquely African, and should I add, South African, is because the idea of justice has taken the form of restoration. So we talk about the idea introduced by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, where he enunciated the notion of restorative justice. And to explain what this concept means, it would be absolutely fair to his comment. I quote, "A broken person needed to be helped to be healed."

Skip to 1 minute and 3 secondsNow, if one looks at that quotation, you can understand that restorative justice can only be inculcated if you give new meaning to the life of someone else. And that means that you can only heal a society and restore justice if you address the inequities and if you address the wrongdoings that have been done to that particular person or community. So for African philosophy of education, to reach fruition, if I may put it that way, is to ensure that not only moral justice and compassionate justice be attained, but also restorative justice. Because if one restores what has been wronged, then you are beginning to heal.

Skip to 1 minute and 59 secondsSo in essence, the idea of restorative justice is also linked to the cultivation of love, feeling of affection towards one another, compassion and civility.

Restorative justice

In this video, Tutu’s appeal for restorative justice is evident from his claim that ‘A broken person needed to be helped to be healed’.

Of course, his idea of restorative justice does not deny retribution, as punishment must be meted out according to the crime and the law has to follow its course. His defence of restorative justice is grounded in an enactment of responsibility towards others through love, compassion and civility.

In sum, African philosophy of education invokes three forms of justice: moral, compassionate and restorative. Collectively, these three forms of justice can be couched under the name Ubuntu justice, because Ubuntu involves the cultivation of moral, compassionate and restorative responsibility.

Now that you have developed a particular understanding of justice, consider the following questions …

Does restorative justice offer some way to rectify wrongs in a community? If so, why?

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching for Change: An African Philosophical Approach

Stellenbosch University