Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research

2014 Edition
| Editors: Alex C. Michalos

Ubuntu: The Good Life

  • Thaddeus MetzEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0753-5_4029

Synonyms

Definition

The word “ubuntu” is from the southern African Nguni linguistic group, which includes the Zulu and Xhosa languages, and it literally means humanness. To have ubuntu is to be a person who is living a genuinely human way of life, whereas to lack ubuntu is to be missing human excellence or to live like an animal. It is common for traditional black people on the continent to believe that one’s basic aim in life should be to exhibit ubuntu (though different linguistic groups will have their own, corresponding term), which one can do by prizing communal relationships with other people.

Description

Ubuntu” is the word for humanness in Zulu, Xhosa, and other Nguni languages of southern Africa, where it is widely held among indigenous black people that one’s foremost goal in life should be to exhibit ubuntu. As is explained in what follows, there are similarities between, on the one hand, a...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Bhengu, M. J. (1996). Ubuntu: The essence of democracy. Cape Town, South Africa: Novalis Press.Google Scholar
  2. Cornell, D., & Muvangua, N. (Eds.). (2011). Ubuntu and the law: African ideals and postapartheid jurisprudence. New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Eze, M. O. (2010). Intellectual history in contemporary South Africa. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  4. Gyekye, K. (2010). African ethics. In E. Zalta (Ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of ethics. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/african-ethics/
  5. Metz, T. (2011). Ubuntu as a moral theory and human rights in South Africa. African Human Rights Law Journal, 11, 532–559.Google Scholar
  6. Metz, T., & Gaie, J. (2010). The African ethic of ubuntu/botho: Implications for research on morality. Journal of Moral Education, 39, 273–290.Google Scholar
  7. Mkhize, N. (2008). Ubuntu and harmony: An African approach to morality and ethics. In R. Nicolson (Ed.), Persons in community: African ethics in a global culture (pp. 35–44). Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.Google Scholar
  8. Mnyaka, M., & Motlhabi, M. (2005). The African concept of ubuntu/botho and its socio-moral significance. Black Theology, 3, 215–237.Google Scholar
  9. Murove, M. F. (Ed.). (2009). African ethics: An anthology of comparative and applied ethics. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.Google Scholar
  10. Nkondo, G. M. (2007). Ubuntu as a public policy in South Africa: A conceptual framework. International Journal of African Renaissance Studies, 2, 88–100.Google Scholar
  11. Paris, P. (1995). The spirituality of African peoples. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  12. Ramose, M. (1999). African philosophy through ubuntu. Harare, Zimbabwe: Mond Books.Google Scholar
  13. Shutte, A. (2001). Ubuntu: An ethic for the new South Africa. Cape Town, South Africa: Cluster Publications.Google Scholar
  14. Tutu, D. (1999). No future without forgiveness. New York: Random House.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PhilosophyUniversity of JohannesburgAuckland ParkSouth Africa