Ubuntu and the law in South Africa

Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal 01/1998; 1.
Source: DOAJ


The new constitutional dispensation, like the idea of freedom in South Africa, is also not free of scepticism. Many a time when crime and criminal activity are rife, sceptics would lament the absence of ubuntu in society and attribute this absence to what they view as the permissiveness which is said to have been brought about by the Constitution with its entrenched Bill of Rights.Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity and (attempt to) demonstrate the irony that the absence of the values of ubuntu in society that people often lament about and attribute to the existence of the Constitution with its demands for respect for human rights when crime becomes rife, are the very same values that the Constitution in general and the Bill of Rights in particular aim to inculcate in our society.Secondly, against the background of the call for an African renaissance that has now become topical globally, I would like to demonstrate the potential that traditional African values of ubuntu have for influencing the development of a new South African law and jurisprudence.The concept ubuntu, like many African concepts, is not easily definable. In an attempt to define it, the concept has generally been described as a world-view of African societies and a determining factor in the formation of perceptions which influence social conduct. It has also been described as a philosophy of life.Much as South Africa is a multicultural society, indigenous law has not featured in the mainstream of South African jurisprudence. Without a doubt, some aspects or values of ubuntu are universally inherent to South Africa’s multi cultures.The values of ubuntu are therefore an integral part of that value system which had been established by the Interim Constitution.The founding values of the democracy established by this new Constitution arguably coincide with some key values of ubuntu(ism).Ubuntu(-ism), which is central to age-old African custom and tradition however, abounds with values and ideas which have the potential of shaping not only current indigenous law institutions, but South African jurisprudence as a whole.Ubuntu can therefore become central to a new South African jurisprudence and to the revival of sustainable African values as part of the broader process of the African renaissance.

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    • "Connected to the increase in black South African professionals and the spread of an Aforcentric management perspective is the concept of ubuntu in South Africa. Ubuntu, which translates to " I am because we are " (Booysen, 2001: 38) or " I am who I am through others " (Zoogah, Peng, & Woldu, 2015: 15), is a long-standing African cultural value that is a " philosophy of life, which in its most fundamental sense represents personhood, humanity, humaneness and morality; a metaphor that describes group solidarity where such group solidarity is central to the survival of communities with a scarcity of resources, where the fundamental belief is that…a person can only be a person through others " (Mokgoro, 1998: 2). In short, ubuntu elucidates the connection, care, solidarity, and respect that directs South Africans' way of life such that group concerns are afforded greater importance than individual concerns, thus favoring decisions that are beneficial for the collective good (Booysen, 2001; Khoza, 1994; Mbigi, 1997). "
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    ABSTRACT: Using a longitudinal design this study examines the relationship between job embeddedness, organizational commitment and turnover intentions using a sample of South African professionals. Results show that job embeddedness had a positive relationship on organizational commitment and a negative relationship on turnover intentions. Furthermore, we find that this relationship was moderated by employees' cultural values, specifically, collectivism and power distance. The results of this research provide new insights into the generalizability of job embeddedness theory to non-Western countries, such as South Africa. The study also extends extant embeddedness theory to understand how employee individual differences, in particular cultural values, influence the relationship between job embeddedness and employees' job attitudes.
    09/2015; 1(3). DOI:10.1080/23322373.2015.1056649
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    • "One reason for holding this suspicion is that the cultures found in this region characteristically place a higher premium on the value of community than Metz would allow. More specifically they take being in certain kinds of relationships as constitutive of the ultimate moral good and the basis of human dignity, insisting that merely having that capacity is not sufficient (Gbadegesin 1991, p. 65; Mokgoro 1998, p. 3; Gyekye 2004, p. 16; Iroegbu 2005, p. 442). Consider the statement by the renowned Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whom Metz cites approvingly. "
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    ABSTRACT: The belief that human rights are culturally relative has been reinforced by recent attempts to develop more plausible conceptions of human rights whose philosophical foundations are closely aligned with culture-specific ideas about human nature and/or dignity. This paper contests specifically the position that a conception of human rights is culturally relative by way of contesting the claim that there is an African case in point. That is, it contests the claim that there is a unique theory of rights. It analyses three examples of what often passes as African conception of human rights arguing that they have little or nothing to do with human rights, are simply inadequate or are not African in the sense at issue in a cultural relativism. Along the way, it distinguishes between two meanings of the term African contending that to the extent that the practice of prizing the ‘community’ higher than any other value is definitive of African, the idea of African human rights remains suspect.
    Human Rights Review 09/2014; 15(3). DOI:10.1007/s12142-013-0302-2
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    • "The prominent role witnessing PTEs plays in PTSD causation in South Africa may be related to the culturally prescribed linkage of one’s well-being to the well-being of one’s family and community. This philosophy of ubuntu has been described as an African world-view that emphasises “group solidarity, conformity, compassion, respect, human dignity, humanistic orientation and collective unity” [28]. Alternatively, compared to directly experiencing a traumatic event, witnessing may have differential effects on memory and feelings of helplessness that may be important in PTSD aetiology. "
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    ABSTRACT: South Africa's unique history, characterised by apartheid, a form of constitutional racial segregation and exploitation, and a long period of political violence and state-sponsored oppression ending only in 1994, suggests a high level of trauma exposure in the general population. The aim of this study was to document the epidemiology of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the South African general population. The South African Stress and Health Study is a nationally representative survey of South African adults using the WHO's Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) to assess exposure to trauma and presence of DSM-IV mental disorders. The most common traumatic events were the unexpected death of a loved one and witnessing trauma occurring to others. Lifetime and 12-month prevalence rates of PTSD were 2.3% and 0.7% respectively, while the conditional prevalence of PTSD after trauma exposure was 3.5%. PTSD conditional risk after trauma exposure and probability of chronicity after PTSD onset were both highest for witnessing trauma. Socio-demographic factors such as sex, age and education were largely unrelated to PTSD risk. The occurrence of trauma and PTSD in South Africa is not distributed according to the socio-demographic factors or trauma types observed in other countries. The dominant role of witnessing in contributing to PTSD may reflect the public settings of trauma exposure in South Africa and highlight the importance of political and social context in shaping the epidemiology of PTSD.
    BMC Psychiatry 07/2013; 13(1):182. DOI:10.1186/1471-244X-13-182 · 2.21 Impact Factor
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