Encyclopedia of Global Justice

2011 Edition
| Editors: Deen K. Chatterjee


  • Nkiruka Ahiauzu
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9160-5_98

Derived from the Zulu (South African) phrase “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu,” meaning “a person is aperson through other persons,” ubuntu has been taken as connoting the notion of an interconnectedness of persons and the significance of this for conceptions of personhood and interpersonal relations. It has been conceived as meaning or implying compassion, consensus, forgiveness, conversation, humanity, cooperation, hospitality, acceptance of difference, greeting, mutual support, universal brotherhood, interpersonal harmony, reciprocity, generosity, and reverence for elders (and age), though it is not seen as bearing aclearly representative term in western understanding. Archbishop Desmond Tutu describes it as representing the essence of being human. Similar terms such as ujamaa and harambeehave also been used to describe the notion of what the prominent African philosopher Kwasi Wiredu refers to as acommunalist ethic that is seen as asignificant feature in African worldviews, which is...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nkiruka Ahiauzu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Law & CriminologyUniversity of WalesAberystwyth, CeredigionUK