Paul Nnodim and Austin Okigbo | Ubuntu

8th February, 2024 in Author’s corner

“Individuals from various backgrounds and cultures can adopt and integrate this philosophy into their daily lives.”

Ubuntu, as a philosophy or ethical practice which has arguably come to represent African humanism and communalism, has not been sufficiently assimilated into contemporary philosophical scholarship. The anthology edited by Paul Nnodim and Austin Okigbo weaves interdisciplinary perspectives into the discourse on African relational ethics in dialogue with Western normative ideals.

Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about. 
Ubuntu, an African philosophical tradition, emphasizes the capacity of individuals to understand and connect with each other. This philosophy embodies the core values of African humanism, communalism, and a deep sense of belonging. The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a fervent advocate of Ubuntu, played a pivotal role in promoting reconciliation and forgiveness in the aftermath of racial violence in South Africa. However, contemporary philosophical scholarship has not adequately discussed Ubuntu, despite its significance as a philosophy representing African humanism and communalism. This anthology seeks to remedy this gap by incorporating interdisciplinary perspectives into the discourse on African relational ethics. It aims to foster a dialogue with Western normative ideals, covering a broad spectrum of topics such as justice, sustainable development, musical culture, journalism, and peace.

What or who inspired you to choose this topic?
There is a need to bring Ubuntu to the limelight for African and non-African scholars to evaluate, appropriate, or apply where necessary.

How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?
The writing process unfolded as a collaborative endeavor involving us, the editors, and the contributors, originating from a successful conference focused on the topic. A notable discovery during this collaboration was the practical application of Ubuntu, demonstrating how individuals from various backgrounds and cultures can adopt and integrate this philosophy into their daily lives.

What would you like readers to remember about your book?
To answer the question from an individual standpoint: Do I have Ubuntu?

To discover whether someone possesses Ubuntu requires introspection and reflection on certain key aspects. Ubuntu, as a philosophy, emphasizes interconnectedness, empathy, and community. The reader should consider the following questions:

Interconnectedness: Do you recognize and value your connection to others, understanding that your well-being is tied to the well-being of your community?

Empathy and Compassion: Do you regularly show empathy, understanding, and compassion towards others, especially those different from yourself?

Community Contribution: Are you actively engaged in the welfare of your community, contributing positively and helping others?

Respect and Humility: Do you treat others with respect and humility, acknowledging their dignity and worth?

Reconciliation and Forgiveness: Are you open to reconciliation and willing to forgive others, moving past conflicts towards greater communal harmony?

If your actions and mindset align with these principles, then you embody the spirit of Ubuntu in your life.

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