ubuntu truth and reconciliation commission

The Covid-19 Pandemic and Nigeria’s Economic Crisis: Between Pain and Reform? It’s a communitarian ethic that’s been popularised by such figures as Desmond Tutu in his work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. What does Taylor mean when he claims, apropos of Christianity, “It’s all about reconciliation”? Our Upcoming Events: “Healing Via Truth and Reconciliation,” panel discussion and video presentation, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006, New Classroom Building, N.C. Ubuntu is best known outside of Africa as a humanist philosophy associated with Nelson Mandela (1918–2013) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (born 1931). There is something similar going on with ubuntu, which is at once uniquely African and universally human. Out of curiosity, have you come across the alternate translation of, “A human being is a human being through (the otherness of) other human beings” that a few South African scholars have suggested? On Truth, Reconciliation, Humanity, and Ubuntu. 20 Truth and Reconciliation Commision Report 414 citing Peter Biehl, who describes how ubuntu substantiates restorative justice; Gobodo-Madikizela A Human Being Died 127-132. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela is Professor and Research Chair in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University. Ubuntu refers to behaving well towards others or acting in ways that benefit the community. She served as a member of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which formed the basis of her research and award-winning book, A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness, published seven times in multiple languages. Several caveats are in order: I am bracketing questions about whether descriptions of ubuntu should be taken as empirical claims about actually existing social norms or are, rather, better seen as utopian longings. Ricoeur, for example, traces the formation of the Christian self through others in the very grammatical structure of the language we use to articulate it. Tutu sees all realms of life in relation to God and all humanity as created in the image of God. Five rough categories of improvement in relationships emergefrom the literature: 1. During the 1990s, as chair of the International Monitoring Project of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I worked with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others in … ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Proleptically affirming the possibility of reconciliation on the basis of a community yet to come, the constitution asserts that apartheid’s “gross violations of human rights . In No Future Without Forgiveness, Desmond Tutu, the most systematic and cogent advocate of ubuntu in recent decades, puts it this way: If for Taylor, Christianity is all about reconciliation, for Tutu, Christianity is all about ubuntu. Furthermore, the heterogeneity of sub-Saharan Africa—not to mention the differences between precolonial village life and, for instance, life in the slums of Soweto—renders suspect any claims about a singular African culture. Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously described ubuntu as meaning "My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours." By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Biography of Stephen Bantu (Steve) Biko, Anti-Apartheid Activist, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela - Former President of South Africa, A Brief History of South African Apartheid, Why Black People Had a Complex Relationship With Fidel Castro, Biography of Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu, South African Activist, Understanding South Africa's Apartheid Era, Biography of Walter Max Ulyate Sisulu, Anti-Apartheid Activist, What is Ubuntu? As a political theology, ubuntu radicalizes familiar Christian injunctions toward forgiveness, hospitality, reconciliation, and social justice with the aim of drastically reconfiguring the political and cultural landscape of South Africa and, ultimately, the world. As Taylor tells it there, reform and reconciliation are by no means parallel trajectories. In Taylor’s terms, ubuntu insists that we are not buffered selves; the remediation of ubuntu in South African jurisprudence and in its global circulation suggests a normative indictment of firm boundaries between self and other. Taylor cites the dismantling of apartheid as an example of the kind of conflicts and ethical dilemmas facing the world today, and of their possible transcendence. ... And pastorally speaking, if you like, what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has done is that its opened a space within which people—we like to use the word, don’t we, ordinary people, rank-and-file people—have an opportunity to speak their truth. Ubuntu in this sense is a way of thinking about what it means to be human, and how we, as humans, should behave towards others. Social Science Research Council the context of the truth and reconciliation commission The Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Bill, 1995, combines the requirements of the interim Constitution with those of international human rights norms and provides for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (“the Commission”). Ubuntu will push one toward selfless acts. The clearest example of the way ubuntu served as a site of mediation can be found in the “National Unity and Reconciliation” chapter of South Africa’s 1994 Interim Constitution (the section cited as the mandate for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which dominated media and politics in South Africa from 1996 to 1998). Specifically, I am concerned with tracking the processes whereby reconciliation was bound up with the concepts, practices, and vocabulary of ubuntu during South Africa’s transition to non-racial democracy, and how, in turn, ubuntu has come to inflect the social imaginary of Taylor’s Latin Christianity. Ubuntu, the Zulu term for an ethic of interdependence, which informs social structures and ethical practices throughout southern Africa, has been called the motivating principle, or zeitgeist, of communitarian village life for Bantu-speaking peoples, for whom muntu, or mutu, is a common word for person. South Africa's post-apartheid truth and reconciliation commission, which was chaired by Tutu, would have borrowed from ubuntu philosophy. The commission’s record shows that its standards for disclosure and amnesty were high indeed: of the more than 7,000 applications submitted to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it granted amnesty to only 849 of them. mond Tutu utilised the principles of ubuntu during his leadership of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Instead, various claims to ubuntu’s indigenousness—its status as an “indigenous African philosophy,” as it has been described both by members of the Black Consciousness movement and by academic anthropologists—is an obvious part of its cultural currency. In an attempt to rebuild its society without retribution, the Commission created a new model for grappling with a history of extreme violence. . This is especially true of the politics of forgiveness and psychological healing in the aftermath of mass trauma and violence. It would be more accurate to read the discourse of ubuntu as a part of the phenomenon of religious pluralization that Taylor calls the “nova effect,” in which the “malaise of modernity” and a deep history of religious improvisation combine to power our “spiritual super-nova, a kind of galloping pluralism on the spiritual plane.” This image helps to make sense of the rampant commercialization of ubuntu showcased by phenomena as diverse as the Ubuntu computer programming language, the 2009 “Ubuntu Diplomacy” initiative of the U.S. Department of State, and the Cape Town “Ubuntu Festival.” Much of this is merely multiculturalist kitsch, and indeed it is on the very basis of ubuntu’s status as “an African product” that it is marketed as a valuable cultural resource and has become a buzzword in corporate management discourse. There is an interesting article on it in, of all places, the ‘Handbook of Restorative Justice’ that they use at many law schools. While Jimmy Klausen, in his recent post on the subject of indigenous religions, uses the category of indigeneity to shed light on Taylor’s “politics of recognition,” the assumptions about cultural purity that freight indigeneity reflect neither the global iterations of ubuntu as a product in the global marketplace of ideas nor its history of mediating colonial and missionary encounters. In her book, Ngomane uses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as a tangible example of ubuntu in practice. At the same time, ubuntu was called upon to translate these very norms—and the attendant discourses of human rights and civil society—into African vernaculars. The connotations of ubuntu are commonly expressed by invoking a Zulu maxim in which its cognates predominate: “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu,” or, to use the proverb of Tutu’s Xhosa heritage, “ubuntu ungamntu ngabanye abantu,” (“a person is a person through other persons”). Justin Neuman is assistant professor of English Literature at Yale University, where he works on twentieth and twenty-first century literature and culture. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) held public sessions from 1996 to 1998, and concluded its work in 2004. I aim to show how Taylor’s argument, at key moments, draws both rhetorically and analytically on South African examples, and to explore that the ways the cross pressures of this encounter allow us to revisit some of the central concepts of A Secular Age—the “buffered self,” the “nova effect,” “immanence,” and “spiritual hunger”—from a fresh perspective. Ubuntu’s untranslatability is central to both theoretical and popular articulations: nearly all writing on the subject takes this claim as axiomatic, and nearly all such texts (my own included) cite the transliterated Zulu maxim. If for Senghor, Biko, and others fighting against colonialism and apartheid, ubuntu symbolized opposition to Western practices of domination and served as their dialectical antithesis, its status as a guiding principle of the new South Africa and its strategic use by Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu catapulted ubuntu into national and global circulation as a rival normative framework to Western ideas about sovereignty, utility, and individual autonomy. Tutu, as chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa between 1996 and 1998, and operating from the premise of faith, theologizes the Ubuntu concept by anchoring it beyond community into God through the biblical category of the imago Dei. The aim was to find an ‘award’ which allowed also for a reconciliation, and therefore living together on a new footing. There are related words in many sub-Saharan African cultures and languages, and the word Ubuntu is now widely known and used outside of South Africa. ubuntu is the idea that we are all interconnected through our common humanity This was in part because its new leaders were pioneering modern day restorative justice with the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a forum where all South Africans could go and tell their own story of living under apartheid, blacks and whites alike. I am also not, for the purposes of this discussion, concerned with whether ubuntu’s communalism underwrites the suppression of dissent, though Tutu’s claim that anything detrimental to social harmony should be “avoided like the plague” has a chilling tone. President Barack Obama included mention of Ubuntu in his memorial to Nelson Mandela, saying it was a concept that Mandela embodied and taught to millions. In particular, he stresses the urgency of building bonds of understanding across “boundaries [of belief and unbelief] based on a real mutual sense, a powerful sense, of what moves the other person”—friendships based on “understanding [the other person’s] notion of fullness.” This is a Christian project insofar as Christianity is, for Taylor, “all about reconciliation.” In this post I relate Taylor’s idea of reconciliation to those informing claims made by Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela during and after the dismantling of apartheid and in South Africa’s interim constitution of 1994. The SSRC is an independent, international, nonprofit organization. One meaning of Ubuntu is correct behavior, but correct in this sense is defined by a person's relations with other people. In Taylor’s hands, reconciliation is overdetermined by its counterintuitive roles as at once a properly Christian concept internal to Christian self-fashioning and the threshold upon which Christianity opens toward difference as such. Instead, Taylor looks to recent cases of transitional justice, like South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as examples of the way reconciliatory frameworks can shatter the zero-sum nature of award and judgment by enabling a “vertical” shift to ethical planes that permit “a win-win move.” Taylor writes: The basic idea behind this kind of procedure was to get the ex-victims to accept that they could have a maximum of one kind of closure (the truth about what happened) at the cost of renouncing a lot that they could quite legitimately claim of another kind: punishment of the perpetrators, an eye for an eye. The inclusive spirit of ubuntu holds those within its embrace to moral and ethical accountability, and plays a fundamental role in politics. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of South Africa is an example through which Ubuntu justice – moral, compassionate and restorative – was practised; To elicit ‘truth telling’ about past human atrocities and listening to the testimonies of those who wanted amnesty and those seeking reparation is a way through which justice can be realised; and During the era of decolonization, ubuntu was increasingly described as an African, humanist philosophy. In the 1960s and early 70s, several intellectuals and nationalists referred to ubuntu when they argued that an Africanization of politics and society would mean a greater sense of communalism and socialism. Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term meaning "humanity." Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela has explored this territory in depth in her research and writing, and while serving on the Truth and Reconciliation … Mandela’s understanding of Ubuntu motivated him to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995. The evidence of European influences are particularly conspicuous: from the centrality of Christianity to the echo of Kant’s categorical imperative, Tutu’s rhetoric seamlessly integrates the Christian imagery of brotherhood and the dignity shared by all those made in God’s image with ubuntu’s communalism. Disaster Studies as Politics with Other Means: Covid-19 and the Legacies of Cold War Disaster Research, When Video Vanishes: How Ephemeral Social Media Platforms Disappear Protest Journalism, Which politics of nature? Us ing the secondary data for the analysis, the paper I will cop to not having studied Zulu or Xhosa, but I find the difference provocative and relevant for any point about ubuntu’s communitarian ideals. Hunhu/Ubuntu is also a key theme in African philosophy as it places an imperative on the importance of group or communal existence as op… The clearest example of the way ubuntu served as a site of mediation can be found in the “National Unity and Reconciliation” chapter of South Africa’s 1994 Interim Constitution (the section cited as the mandate for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which dominated media and politics in South Africa from 1996 to 1998). Your email address will not be published. The Nguni languages are a group of related languages that are spoken in Southern Africa, mostly in South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe: each of several languages share the word, and, at the heart of each definition, though, is the connectedness that exists or should exist between people. So … Kujenga Amani facilitates the exchange of ideas about diverse aspects of peacebuilding in Africa. This conception of the good life distinguishes two possible ways of living, an animal life and a human one, and claims that one ought to liv… 21 … He or she is a full person. It was an underlying concept in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the writings of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu raised awareness of the term outside of Africa. In the 1960s and ‘70s, ubuntu was claimed by négritude thinkers, like Senegalese president Léopold Senghor and anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, as the unique cultural inheritance of Black Africa. can now be addressed on the basis that there is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimization.”  In its very enunciation, the term ubuntu begins the process of reparation that it both embodies and desires, in this case by making the argument, both pragmatically and philosophically, for moral and linguistic reeducation. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was underpinned by the philosophy of ubuntu. Chapter price: €25.00$30.00. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission that he chaired was aimed at helping South Africans come … South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the Light of Ubuntu: A Comprehensive Appraisal. The Immanent Frame publishes interdisciplinary perspectives on religion, secularism, and the public sphere. While rhetorically straightforward, Taylor’s choice of terms invokes, only to complicate, common theological contexts in which the term implies a specific predicate: reconciliation is transacted between individuals and God (or the Church). In the 1990s, people began to describe ubuntu increasingly in terms of the Nguni proverb translated as "a person is a person through other persons." Ubuntu is a complex word from the Nguni language with several definitions, all of them difficult to translate into English. The truth and reconciliation process is designed to examine and learn from a divisive event in Greensboro's past in order to build the foundation for a more unified future. Reconciliation is Michael Battle's highly original analysis of Bishop Tutu's theology of ubuntu - an African concept recognizing that persons and groups form their identities in relation to one another. Items is a space for engagement with insights from the work of the Council and the social sciences. It was an underlying concept in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the writings of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu raised awareness of the term outside of Africa. Untranslatability asserts cultural difference; the lack of an equivalent concept in European languages and cultures, where the concepts of individuality are more deeply sedimented, is thus marshaled as evidence of otherness. Phone: 212-377-2700 • Fax: 212-377-2727. Required fields are marked *. John Dehlin April 8, 2007 Mormon. For Taylor, apartheid is not an ethical dilemma; rather, the dilemma inheres in the enacting of solutions to apartheid’s obvious injustice in which the difficulty of adjudicating victimhood, communicative justice, reparation, and a plurality of competing goods exposes the inadequacy of modern ethical theory’s fetish for norm and rule. A reply to Berry and Crockford. The term anchored both the norms of an idealized precolonial condition and rehabilitated cultural forms that had been marginalized by colonial domination. A person who behaves in these ways has ubuntu. Taylor’s closing turns of phrase are either arrestingly direct or oddly multilayered, particularly given the divergence between his normative embrace of reconciliation as a project and the descriptive account of the reformist energies within Christianity that he elaborates in A Secular Age. By examining the way that ubuntu has altered—through theology, corporate management culture, ethical theory, and state politics—what Taylor might call the “South African social imaginary,” we begin to see intimations that the self is not as buffered as Taylor might take it to be. Read Justin Neuman's contribution to The naked public sphere? In his afterword to the essays that comprise Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age, Charles Taylor draws his remarks to a close with an appeal to friendships grounded in engaged pluralism. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004339569_012. SSRC activities span more than 80 countries on 6 continents, Apply for research opportunities across the globe, Contributions fund research and scholarship worldwide. The subject of Hunhu/Ubuntu has generated a lot of debate within public and private intellectual discussions, especially in South Africa and Zimbabwe where the major focus has been on whether or not Hunhu/Ubuntu can compete with other philosophical world views as well as whether or not Hunhu/Ubuntu can solve the socio-political challenges facing the two countries. Unearthing the truth was necessary not only for the victims to heal, but for the perpetrators as well. I also wonder, without having read the Taylor anthology, if we need to reach as far as South Africa to poke some holes in the buffered subject of Latinate Christianity. A new project, Crude Culture: Literature in the Oil Age, investigates corporate archives and literary fictions in order to track the shifting ways writers, companies, and governments have imagined the oil industry. Part of my point, however, is that ubuntu can be meaningfully described as “indigenous” to southern Africa only in a historical sense relating to its origins. For Taylor, the modern self begins with the inward gaze of Cartesian reason; it is no accident that Tutu stages ubuntu as an explicit critique of the Enlightenment in his deft juxtaposition of ubuntu with Cartesian subjectivity, Humean utility, and Smith’s market economics. Need, or much more complex ways of relating with others especially true of Council... Sense of connectedness appealed to south Africans as they turned away from the work of the politics of forgiveness reconciliation... Promote peace building during the Truth and reconciliation Commission ( TRC ) process a! 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