What is a human being? What is to be human? Here are the two questions that have been shaping world civilizations since the dawn of time. From the answers of these questions arise the relationship that we maintain with society and the world. Education is the basis of all this. After reading this article, the conviction that African philosophy Ubuntu is an incomparable civilizational base will no longer leave you!
Ubuntu, humanist philosophy
Ubuntu in most languages in sub -Saharan Africa translates the very essence of existence as a human. It is the ability to be and thus, as a Umuntu (the singular of Abantu = humans), of being human. Generally, it is translated by: “I am because others exist.” It is therefore the ability to recognize in the other the same nature as his own. “You are a human being like me. Together, we are humanity. “
The refusal of humanity, the basis of the oppression system
However, it is precisely the refusal to recognize in others the same humanity as its own, that is exactly at the origin of all forms of discrimination and inequalities. When someone is discriminated against, he iss denied fundamental rights like those defined by the oldest universal declaration of the right to humanity which is African. Westerners had to deny the humanity of the dark peoples of the world to reduce them into slavery and/or exterminate them. There were debates on the question of humanity of the Amerindians (in Valladolid in 1550/1551 for example) and blacks of Africa during the period of raids and treaty treaties, by those who claimed Represent “lights” and progress. We also remember the genocide in Rwanda and the process of dehumanization of Tutsi through the ethnic dictatorship.
Example closer to everyday life: the case of the disabled. It is generally agreed that a human has two legs, two arms, two ears, two eyes, a nose of two nostrils, a mouth of two lips … etc if someone came not to match these criteria, we would consider it as “disabled” or “abnormal”. Likewise for intellectual capacities. Thus, certain societies and certain people may not consider them as fully human and therefore allow themselves to deprive them of their basic rights (health, education, physical and moral integrity … etc).
The community, a factor of Ubuntu
By declaring, “I am because we are”, Ubuntu’s philosophy recognizes not only diversity but above all the complementarity of humanity. It is a solid basis for building a society of equity, solidarity, fraternity and promotion of collective excellence.
In Africa, we are used to saying that you need a whole village to educate a child. The individual does not only belong to his parents, but to the community. This allows you to deindividuate your identity. The child literally exists because it belongs to a wider group. The decisions are made collective, the responsibilities are collective and the destiny common. This allows individuality to flourish in the community, and the community to invest in individuals. It’s a virtuous circle.
If we educate our children in this paradigm, as were generations of our ancestors, we could find our essence of human, and leave the paradigm that denies our humanity.