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African Philosophy Essay

I am a teacher in a South African school where there’s a learner called Mary. She is an AIDS orphan (whose Parents both died of HIV/AIDS complications). She is the head of the house hold where she is forced to look after her siblings (a brother and a young sister). They struggle to survive on their own, and often go to bed hungry.

They do not have proper clothing; she doesn’t have a proper school uniform. She is forced to do domestic chores, hence she is often tired and her homework is not done. She may not pass at the end of the year unless she gets help. As Mary’s teacher, I will use African Philosophy of “Ubuntu” (Humaneness) to solve this problem. African Philosophy can be defined as the response to the problems and troubles of Africa and to the domination of Western thought.(Higgs & Smith 2012:55).

The most important aspect of African Philosophy is that, unlike Western Philosophy which regards the individual as the centre of life, it puts the community first. It emphasises the sense of communalism that we as human beings should have. It should help create an environment which is supportive of people in need. The central ethnical principle that African Philosophy embodies is Ubuntu which in English is translated as Humanity, a Nguni expression “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” meaning that a human being is a human being through other human beings, in other words “I am because you are”.

Ubuntu is an ancient African world view based on the primary values of intense humaneness, caring, sharing, respect, compassion and associated values, ensuring a happy and quantitative human community life in the spirit of family.(Brooklryk2002:56) Having identified the exact problem Mary faces as well as its roots, I am going to develop solutions to this problem which I will emphasize to my class as Ubuntu life coping skills for everyone to practise. The following principles of Ubuntu must be known that every person must be kind, humble, happy and must live in harmony with others. In this case of Mary who only lives with siblings, the community (class) must embrace her, making her feel comfortable.


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