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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsThis particular case study is to show how one can use the notion of ubuntu, which is very prominent in the idea of an African philosophy of education. In fact, it is the guiding principle of an African philosophy of education, and I want to show how this notion of ubuntu can help us to address the problem of terrorism. So what does the ubuntu mean? Ubuntu means that through human coexistence and interdependence, which includes the recognition of the other and otherness, we can foster what is understood as co-belonging in a deliberative spirit whereby people engage with one another to resolve the most challenging cases that we are confronted with on the African continent.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 secondsAnd I specifically refer to the Boko Haram issue in northern Nigeria, which is, in fact, an act of terror, because terror is geared towards instilling in people fear. And when people are fearful, they cannot act autonomously, they cannot act independently or think independently, because they are obliged to do certain things which others expect of them to do against their will. So what the Boko Haram example points out and how is that through inculcating the idea of human fear in people, their autonomy is undermined. Their sense of authority to exercise their will is being sidelined.

Skip to 2 minutes and 10 secondsAnd how can ubuntu help to combat the notion of human terror or violence is to say that we make a case for human coexistence on the basis of peace and understanding, because it is only through peace and understanding that you can resolve issues and there is no need for violence. So we will have to confront terror with speech. And speech that is deliberative implies that you would listen to what the other has to say, even if you disagree with the other, even if you might find the other's views condescending or repugnant. By merely listening to people, you would give them an opportunity to engage.

Skip to 3 minutes and 8 secondsSo through this kind of deliberative inquiry or deliberative engagement, people would be able to listen attentively to what the other has to say, and in this way, you connect with the otherness of the other. And only through that kind of deliberative engagement and expressing your sense of belonging in the same territory, for instance, or belonging to the same cultural tribe, for instance, or belonging to a particular human identity, you can resolve the issue of violence against humanity. So the Boko Haram terrorism can be resolved if one uses the notion of ubuntu, implying that use the tenets of ubuntu to show as to how fear and a disregard for human agency can be condemned or violated.

Case Study: Combating terrorism through Ubuntu

As has been outlined in the video, an Ubuntu community aims at recognising people on the grounds of their differences and similarities. At the core of such a community are practices such as mutual engagement, co-existence, and respect for one another. These qualities are then taken into account to counteract any form of violence. Specifically, the video enumerates the following procedures as to how Ubuntu can combat terrorism:

  • Ubuntu encourages humans to co-exist and be dependent on one another.

  • Humans in ubuntu recognise the other and his or her otherness.

  • In ubuntu humans foster co-belonging and deliberative engagement to resolve even the most challenging cases of terrorism on the continent.

Consider the following question in light of the afore-mentioned meanings associated with the idea of an Ubuntu community:

How can Ubuntu contribute towards combating terrorism?

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching for Change: An African Philosophical Approach

Stellenbosch University