Ubuntu between tradition and modernity: on A report on Ubuntu by Leonard Praeg

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    In Part 1, I overview Praeg’s points of departure, namely critical humanism, the openness of the norms of justice, the importance of potential, his conception of modernity, a violent ontology, and the state as locus of politics. The remainder of Part 1 concerns the main arguments of his five chapters. These are the shifting meaning of Ubuntu in precolonial, colonial and postcolonial Africa; Nyerere’s ujamaa experiment in Tanzania as a case study of the dangers inherent in ignoring the colonial disruption Ubuntu; the myth of the complete break with the past allegedly represented by post-apartheid South Africa, and how the latter is haunted by Ubuntu, and Praeg’s concluding link between text worker or construction worker and Ubuntu. In part 2, I critically discuss Praeg’s account of modernity and his dualistic distinction between South African Africans and Afrikaners that need to be set aside to decolonise South Africa.