The Relevance of Ubuntu for African Development and International Relations in the Global Future: Comments on Muxe Nkondo

Peter O Ndege, Professor of History, Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya
September 2017

With the demise of apartheid, and South Africa’s transition to black majority rule, the twin philosophies of Ubuntu and the African Renaissance appeared on the African landscape. At the same time, the discourse about Ubuntu echoes the debates about previous African philosophies and ideologies. Professor Muxe Nkondo has joined the fray, with his latest paper on Ubuntu (UJCI Africa-China Occasional Paper no 2, August 2017) providing an opportunity not only to comment on his ideas, but also to contribute to the debate. This paper highlights and critiques some of the key issues raised by Nkondo. It then analyzes the nature of Ubuntu, and assesses the extent to which it is either a creative or defensive ideology in the light of Nkondo’s propositions, and as seen against the realities on the ground. Next, it analyzes Ubuntu’s implications for Africa’s international relations, before reaching some conclusions.