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The Search for Universal Responsibility: The cosmovision of Ubuntu and the humanism of Fanon

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Isayvani Naicker explores Africa's cosmovision of Ubuntu, which offers as its starting point that humanity is deeply linked to nature through the life of the community. In order to elaborate the usefulness of Ubuntu as a vision for collective engagement, Naicker examines the writings of postcolonial thinker Frantz Fanon, as well as British ecological and ontological discourses, in order to propose an alternative vision for a collective responsibility to the modern climate and environmental discourse.

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  1. 1.

    The COP also serves as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP).

  2. 2.

    At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro there were 2,400 representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs); 17,000 people attended the parallel NGO Forum. The sessions in Copenhagen attracted over 24,000 participants, including some 10,590 government officials, over 13,000 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and 3,221 accredited members of the media. The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun last year had over 11,800 participants.

  3. 3.

    See Bernasconi (1996); Turner and Alan (1986); Gibson (1999, 2003); Gordon (1995), for a discussion on Fanon's new humanism.

  4. 4.

    The Sotho/Tswana version is ‘motho ke motho ka batho’, meaning that a person grows and gets empowered through the help of others.

  5. 5.

    The South African Governmental White Paper on Welfare recognizes Ubuntu principles of caring for each other's well-being in a spirit of mutual support where ‘Each individual's humanity is ideally expressed through his or her relationship with others and theirs in turn through a recognition of the individual's humanity. Ubuntu means that people are people through other people. It also acknowledges both the rights and the responsibilities of every citizen in promoting individual and societal well-being’ (Government Gazette, 2 February 1996, No. 16943, p 18, paragraph 18).

  6. 6.

    http://www.africafocus.org/docs07/wcc0708.php, accessed 26 January 2011.


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Elaborates Ubuntu as a vision for collective engagement along with the writings of postcolonial thinker Frantz Fanon

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Naicker, I. The Search for Universal Responsibility: The cosmovision of Ubuntu and the humanism of Fanon. Development 54, 455–460 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1057/dev.2011.84

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  • responsibility
  • ontology
  • governance pathways
  • individualism
  • science