Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research

2014 Edition
| Editors: Alex C. Michalos

Ubuntu: The Good Life

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



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.


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...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PhilosophyUniversity of JohannesburgAuckland ParkSouth Africa