African Philosophy Essay

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19 August

African Philosophy


The problem is that we have a learner who has come from a different province to attend our school and has a problem socialising with the other children. She does not have any friends and is always alone. As a teacher, I believe it is my duty to try and help her. Nobody should have to be left feeling alone and out of place. She needs to fit in with the other learners. I would have to show them that they need to treat one another with kindness. African philosophy teaches us to build communities so I decided to use it in trying to solve this problem. It also teaches us to treat others with respect and dignity. I will focus on the central ethical idea in traditional thought which is Ubuntu. It encourages us to be humble human beings.


African philosophy stems from tradition and emphasises on the community and puts that at the centre of life. It is a way of thinking. It promotes African identity and provides cultural unity. It is the response of the troubles of Africa, where intellects rejected the westerner’s domination by proving them wrong with regards to their belief that Africans were unable to develop a rational and scientific thought. African philosophy instils decent values in people and teaches us to love our neighbours and that we have a duty towards them. It consists of four different methods. Firstly, Ehtnic philosophy –also defined as “the philosophy of Africa “, consists of religious and moral beliefs and contains people’s view of life and the experience of human beings. Secondly, Sage (wisdom) philosophy- focuses on individuals who are wise and far sighted and can think critically. Thirdly, Political philosophy -is very unique and different from the others.

It is expected to be an African political philosophy, unlike capitalist, socialist or communist politics. Lastly, Pure philosophy -is philosophy done in areas such as empiricism, critical rationalism and existentialism. African philosophy also includes the principles of Ubuntu. Ubuntu, meaning “humanity” is related to well being and happiness. It is about caring and sharing, and forgiveness and reconciliation. It promotes peace and unity, and discourages discrimination. A fuller meaning of ubuntu is “I am because you are”.

This means that we exist and develop only in relationships with others. It teaches us to live in harmony irrespective of our differences. Everybody should be made to feel important. Ubuntuism is meant to instil good values in a person, where you put the needs of other people before your own. African philosophy and ubuntuism emphasises on the importance of being kind and considerate to others.

By making the learners aware of the ubuntu principles, I most certainly believe that it would make a huge difference in the way they behave and react towards the new learner. A community is expected to make any person feel welcome and in the same way, so should the learners. They need to make her a part of the group. She should be able to fit in comfortably and feel a sense of belonging.


The advantages of African philosophy are that it encourages the building of communities. It gives us a deeper understanding of ourselves. It teaches us the importance of culture and tradition and the need for it in our life. It shows us that we should love and appreciate all human beings. We should treat everyone equally. It promotes African identity and makes us feel proud to be Africans. However, there are also disadvantages to the African philosophy. It does not encourage critical thinking. It does not challenge power structures.

It is unable to accept women and men as equals. It also tends to ignore the needs of the individual. It tolerates superstitious practices and is not widely accepted. It relies too much on tradition. Children should be taught from an early age to show love and respect to all people irrespective of colour and creed. I would make the children aware of how important it is to follow the ubuntu principles so that everyone can be happy and feel more relaxed. African philosophy would be the best method indeed to solve this problem as it promotes peace and harmony and should be practiced by every human being.


Higgs, P. & Smith, J. 2012. Rethinking our World. Cape Town: Juta. Theoretical Frameworks in Education. Study Guide. Pretoria
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