Nixolisa ngani? Can white SA live up to ubuntu, the African philosophy Tutu globalised?

In failing to repair relations and right the dispossession of land as ubuntu demands, white South Africans are yet to meaningfully reconcile with black people, writes Panashe Chigumadzi

09 January 2022 - 00:00 By PANASHE CHIGUMADZI

 Under a 1986 newsletter headline, “Ubuntu, Abantu, Abelungu (”, Black Sash, the anti-apartheid organisation founded as the vanguard of white liberal women’s opposition in SA, reported surprising findings from a white fieldworker in its programme against forced land removals — black people of the land do not consider white people to be people. That is, we do not consider them to be abantu. Instead, they are abelungu.

“Ubuntu, Abantu, Abelungu” appeared a few years before the late archbishop Mpilo Desmond Tutu thrust ubuntu — the African philosophy best understood through the proverb found in Bantu languages across the continent, “umuntu ngumuntu ngabanye bantu” (a person is a person through other people) — into the global imagination as he presided over the postapartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)...

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.