Volume 6, Issue 1, 2017
Towards an African Critical Philosophy of Race: Ubuntu as a Philo-Praxis of Liberation
Although 1994 is popularly represented as a year of major transition from an oppressive society to a democratic one in South African history, it did not mark the end of White Supremacy but instead its evolution from one constitutional form into another. This is because the so-called “right of conquest” remains affirmed in South Africa by the much celebrated constitution Act 108 of 1996. Since the early 90s, Ubuntu has been employed by the elite parties involved in the “negotiations” for the transition to the “new” South Africa, to justify the new society. This perverse employment of Ubuntu has been largely supported with the aid of sophistic academic posturing by the largely white academic establishment in South Africa and its network of international allies. Using African philosophical hermeneutics as a method, we will ground another interpretation of Ubuntu which stems from two interrelated roots. The first root is a firm understanding of and engagement with the Bantu languages and cultures which are its primordial philosophical basis (and thus crucial) on the one hand. The second is the study of the history of Ubuntu as lived and living philosophy responding to the challenge of the conquest of the indigenous people in the unjust wars of colonisation. Towards this end we will draw from the experience of Ubuntu-inspired movements in the history of the wars of resistance and the struggle for liberation ongoing since 1652.