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Re-imaging a conception of Ubuntu that can recreate relevant knowledge cultures in Africa and African universities.

1. Introduction

This paper examines the extent to which a reimagined and repositioned conception of Ubuntu can influence the reconstruction of a relevant knowledge culture in African universities. This argument arises from raging debates on how universities in Africa can contribute meaningfully to the development of knowledge on the continent. A plethora of debates forming center stage promote a universalistic conception of knowledge in which truth and knowledge only are considered as such when their conditions speak to the logic of Western, mostly liberal, forms of understanding. These arguments indirectly claim that anything otherwise is a diversion from what is universally true, a ground upon which further forms of knowledge could be constructed.

This paper proceeds by first examining a logical distinction between "indigenous knowledge" and "indigenous knowledge systems." Thereafter, consideration is given to what could be appropriate ways of understanding the concept of Ubuntu and what the relevance of this debate could be to creating better avenues for the development of African knowledge cultures in structures such as the African higher education system. The paper also brings on board current conceptions of the directions the African university is taking with regard to the forms of knowledge considered as relevant, as well as the divisive debate on rankings and what purposes they serve. In the following sub-section, I begin by examining indigenous knowledge.

2. Of Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Knowledge Systems

There is an enormous amount of scholarship that has been dedicated to the analysis of knowledge systems in Africa. In this section I borrow some thoughts from Shizha (2010) with regarding to understanding African knowledge systems. Shizha (2010: 27ff) considers African knowledge systems as an equivalent of African indigenous knowledge and science. This is the case because the author considers it as "specific knowledge systems that relate to the knowledge of the original peoples of Africa, their oral culture and traditional ecological knowledge, as affected by their worldview" (Shizha, 2010: 27). He proceeds to argue that it is that knowledge which "incorporates their social and natural wellbeing (with) their cosmos and their spiritual world" (Shizha, 2010: 27). This understanding is found in a number of scholars, including Ramose (2002), who also argue that African knowledge systems are those systems that represent the philosophy and epistemology of the indigenous, conquered peoples of (African) countries.

The above characterizations of African knowledge systems conflate two central issues to sit side by side, although these two are not on a par with each other. A combined analysis of these representations indicates that what we may call African knowledge refers primarily to the bodies of knowledge constructed and held by the indigenous peoples of Africa, which are then handed down from one generation to the next. At this point, African knowledge becomes equated to the bodies of knowledge in African traditional life, and the contents of the bodies specifically. For example, Shizha's (2010: 27) comment that "much of African Indigenous Knowledge remains tacit, sacred and embedded in practices, relationships and rituals (Bhola, 2002), often transferred orally between generations; and that lack of documentation, clear ownership, and development makes it easy to ignore African indigenous knowledge in favour of Western knowledge systems," is a reference to the bodies of knowledge themselves or to their contents, and not necessarily to the system of connectivity and influence that these bodies may have on each other and on human life in general. Specifically, these bodies of knowledge are the ones considered original to what is called Africa.

The debate about what is African has also been pursued in a number of fora and will not be discussed in this writing. Similarly, other debates have focused on the distinction between local knowledge and indigenous knowledge, which this discussion will not become involved in for now. Nevertheless, the reading and understanding that I have presented above seem to be among the predominant understandings about what African knowledge is, as much it also is contested heavily as a true representation of what African knowledge is all about.

However, my view is that African Knowledge and the African Knowledge System are not one and the same thing. I loosely characterize a system as a defined whole whose different parts and operations exist or work in such a way as to maintain the integrity of the whole. In this case, the idea of "operating as a system" becomes primary not just because it contains issues or elements or bodies of knowledge, but mainly because it is all encompassing, including inputs and outputs (the bodies of knowledge particularly considered to be original to Africa), as well as processes. The question of process in this regard may refer to the manner in which the bodies are developed; how interconnected they are to the people and practices of the people; as well as the human values that are expressed through the bodies of knowledge in question, etc. At this point it becomes necessary to understand "African worldview" in broad terms as meaning both the contents as well as the manner of interconnectedness of the contents, which in fact become reduced to the "systems" in general. This understanding means that, in cases where "African worldview" is mentioned in this writing, the referent is actually the system as such, and not only its contents. Such an understanding is at odds with a narrow conception of indigenous knowledge systems as a mere connection of African metaphysics and religious forces. This understanding implies that African knowledge involves both the material and spiritual aspects of human life. In this regard, Breidlid (2008: 141) says that African knowledge is "holistic, non-dominating, non-manipulative, and involves social and relational capabilities of people".

But, in quite stark contrast with the position I have reached above, the author proceeds to argue that "it is imperative that African indigenous knowledge systems are understood in relation to a world view" (Breidlid, 2008: 141). While a reading of this on its own can be less problematic in terms of the debate at stake, the position is essentially problematic because, in the author's view, the larger worldview is one that is "realized in religious ceremonies, rituals and other (traditional) practices" (Breidlid, 2008: 141). The problem resides in the coming to a realization of this larger worldview, dependent on religious ceremonies and rituals. Religious ceremonies and rituals, by their very nature, are particular and specific to the historical needs of a group or society, and/or any society's events in a given context and given period. Such ceremonies and rituals cannot be thought of simply as serving generic ends. Their very scope is limited to the specific and particular perceived ends of the people at a given time. If this understanding is at least plausible, the attachment of religious ceremonies and rituals deviates from the true meaning of a worldview as part of what should be included in African knowledge systems.

In raising this argument, I question whether it is necessary for the associated religious ceremonies and rituals to be there in order for us to have an African worldview. It is possible for the silent listener to this argument to reply and argue that the religious, the connection with the divine, are essential components of African metaphysics and not divorced from them. To this line of thought, I will agree. Nevertheless, such an agreement is far from agreeing to the understanding that the accommodation of supernatural forces in a thought system or worldview can only be legitimate if associated religious ceremonies and rituals are also practiced. In other words, the African metaphysical perspective that makes the physical world an intricate part of the spiritual world can exist without the ceremonies and rituals in question. The absence of religious ceremonies and rituals does not ipso facto remove one from the worldview in question. This understanding justifies Breidlid's take on Chivaura (2006: 217, cited in Breidlid, 2008: 141), which states that "the difference between African and European worldviews concerning earth and heaven relate to the differences in their attitude towards the material and the spiritual," which Africans regard as compatible and complementary.

In this sub-section, the main argument is that African indigenous knowledge systems stand on a better footing if the focus is more on the particular ways of understanding the world, on creating and living human and moral values, and on generating social practices that do not lead to unnecessary dualistic contradiction between the physical and the metaphysical world. This is an understanding that reconnects the spirit world to the material world in a bounded existence. This understanding considers, as central to African knowledge systems, the structures, the behaviors, the interconnectedness of issues, etc. Such an understanding is inimical to one that merely considers the indigenous knowledge system as delimited to the space, the homestead, the domicile of the spirit world by its pre-occupation with the contents of bodies of knowledge, because such an understanding devalues the system as such.

3. Ubuntu: An Ancient Worldview or a System of Values Centered on Communal Human Values?

Let me start off by using thoughts from Maluleke (1999: 13, cited by Venter, 2004) expressing the idea that "Ubuntu" as a concept is riddled with problems. Nussbaum (2003) concurs with this thinking when she states that Ubuntu is a difficult concept to explain. My focus is mainly on Venter (2004), who possibly concurs with the thinking that Ubuntu is riddled with problems because (as Maluleke, 1999: 13 argues) it often has been conducted in sporadic, unstructured, naive and dangerous ways; and the concept often is evoked in a mechanical way to solve current problems. Venter proceeds to argue that such usage forgets that the "concept comes from a mainly feudal socioeconomic system where the chief, the clan and the extended family were the providers of wealth and values" (Venter, 2004: 150). In relation to how the concept is used today, Venter (2004) argues that it often is used out of context. But what is this context? Is it a generic context, or the context in which a majority of the people seemed to use the concept at this particular time? That aside, what also is surprising about this attempted definition of Ubuntu is the assertion that the concept of "Umuntu" or "Ubuntu" is regarded as equivalent to "human being," or "person." In the author's own words, it is stated that "the concept Umuntu or human being is of great importance in the African worldview" (Venter, 2004: 150). When "Umuntu" and "human being" are being used side by side in any vernacular reading, it becomes clear that this juxtaposition is not only misleading, but essentially wrong. In Malawi's Chewa vernacular, for instance, "Umunthu," a variance of "Umuntu" or "Ubuntu" in the most quoted Bathu language code, refers to the act of being human or the characteristic conditions of living as a true, genuine, moral human being. On the other hand, "Munthu" (without the prefix u) is the equivalent of the term "person" or "human being," and not necessarily "being human," as Venter (2004) would want us to understand.

The concept "Ubuntu" also has often carried ethno-philosophical connotations, which is the other point raised by Venter. The ethnophilosophical idea comes up when people begin to argue that "Ubuntu" comes from feudal historical periods and makes sense mainly if considered within the environment of traditional chieftaincy and traditional village life, to be blunt. This reading freezes the concept of Ubuntu within the feudal period and further proposes that the meaning of Ubuntu can legitimately be drawn by considering the applicability of similar social systems in contemporary times. In other words, applying the concept outside this historical phase does not only become difficult, confusing, naive and dangerous, but it is also meaningless. What this understanding of Ubuntu purports to do, other than simply freezing the concept in time and space, is to persuade one to imagine and think of Ubuntu as a historical artefact of a primordial society.

One particular work that has carried the above reading of Ubuntu is Matolino and Kwindingwi's (2013) thinking on "The End of Ubuntu." Matolino and Kwindingwi (2013) assert that Ubuntu represents a narrative of return. In their thinking, defenders of a narrative of return "shut down space for the possibility of other interpretations of modes of being African that could be at variance with their preferred narrative" (because) they think that the narratives they give are an authentic representation of African life (Matolino & Kwindingwi, 2013: 199). This understanding of Ubuntu uses an ethno-philosophical interpretation of Ubuntu in which primacy is placed on pre-modern or traditional lifestyles attached to specific existent communities, but also ones that are far from modern or contemporary lifestyles. In this understanding, one senses that, by labelling Ubuntu as a narrative of return, the idea of Ubuntu is then used and understood in contemporary society as a wishful recreation of the forms of life that existed among different communities prior to the colonialism, modernization and neoliberal trends that have recreated the forms of life as we know them today. These scholars also argue this line on the grounds that Ubuntu's desirability has diminished because of a clear disjuncture between its metaphysical conditions for attainment and the stark ontological and ethical crises that have become humanity's daily bread today. To them, Ubuntu as a philosophy cannot live up to the demands of modern life, neither is it well suited to complex, multicultural societies that do not prize communality and associations (Matolino & Kwindingwi, 2013: 197-199).

One of the responses to "The End of Ubuntu" has been provided by Metz (2014). While sympathetic to the rejection of an ethno-philosophical understanding of Ubuntu that Matolino and Kwindingwi explicate in people who use Ubuntu in contemporary times as a narrative of return, some of their other assertions do not hold. Amongst them, Metz (2014: 66) counters that "even if it were shown that some who believe in Ubuntu, or who appeal to the word 'Ubuntu', act wrongly or cause harm as a result of doing so, it would not follow that Ubuntu as a theory about how one morally ought to treat others is false or epistemically unjustified."

The ethno-philosophical orientation to understanding Ubuntu, which is much in dispute, is one that presents Ubuntu as desirable in and of itself as a pristine, traditional form of life. In this position, one can argue that the act of being human becomes frozen in time and space, as if human beings then are not human beings now; and as if the act of being human in those pristine times was more legitimate than it is now. Such an understanding sends into a down spiral even the very concept of a human being, which is foundational to the act of being human.

On the other hand, the concept of Ubuntu has other, amenable interpretations, on which I will focus now. Many scholars, from those who seem to defend an ethno-philosophical position to the wider group that does not put emphasis on cultural origins, have discussed the concept of Ubuntu and its desirability as a moral concept. Matolino and Kwindingwi (2013: 3, citing Waghid & Smeyers, 2012) acknowledge that Ubuntu rests on core values such as humanness, caring, sharing and respect. In my view, this is an acknowledgement that Ubuntu as an idea refers to the quality of a person, including the process of becoming an ethical person. Metz (2014: 69) adds that "Ubuntu is a sharing of a way of life as much as it is about caring for the other's quality of life." For the sake of this paper, however, I shall focus much of my discussion on Ubuntu on the views Letseka (2012) presents as he summarizes several discussions that have taken place on the concept.

The idea of Ubuntu as a moral theory arises from the fact that human beings, whether in a traditional set-up or in a modern or contemporary society, share a common humanity. It is within this common humanity that one finds traits of human beings wanting to care for and respect other people. They also show compassion, kindness, generosity, benevolence and concern for the other (Letseka, 2012; Waghid & Smeyers, 2012, Metz, 2013). Letseka (2012) further argues that the interconnectedness between human beings creates in each person a responsibility for the other. As such, in quoting Sindane (1994: 8-9), Letseka (2012: 54) states that "Ubuntu inspires us to expose ourselves to others, to encounter the difference of the humanness so as to enrich our own."

Waghid and Smeyers (2012:13) argue that "Ubuntu is considered by most Africans as a practice that is morally good for society, and considering that what might be perceived as good for society is always in the making, (then) Ubuntu ought to be continuously subjected to modifications and adaptations." What this position presents is that Ubuntu refers, first and foremost, to the qualities of a good, desirable form of existence between human beings and that, because of the transitory nature of human ideals and aspirations, the concept of Ubuntu cannot legitimately be applied to a historical period. In other words, the commonality and interdependence of the members of a society or a community do not relegate the idea to primordial traditional societies where, in most cases, forms of existence were less developed than they are today. Similarly, the dominant expression for Ubuntu, which is Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (in the Nguni languages), translates into English as "a human being is a human being because of other human beings" and is an expression that seeks to argue that meaning is found in life in a context, and that context is fundamentally relational or communal. Similarly, the notion of Ubuntu also is expressed in the idiom "I belong therefore I exist" as an indication of the centrality of sharing common humanity and values. Insofar as human beings continue to relate to each other, chances are that these very circumstances are the ones in which Ubuntu will live and be sustained.

To conclude, it would be naive to attach an ethno-philosophical picture to Ubuntu, despite it having found early predominance in those circumstances. Despite its African positioning, Ubuntu speaks to other philosophical positions, which, to say the least, are less African. Waghid and Smeyers (2012: 13) succeed in arguing that what is referred to as Ubuntu finds expression in, for instance, Cavell's (1979) and Benhabib's (2006) notion that, through the "other," one finds meaning and expression. Using Derrida and Arendt, Waghid and Smeyers (2012) argue for imaginative action and hospitality. These are ideals that human beings pursue and, since that is the case, what we actually refer to as Ubuntu is a trans-historical and transcultural value that binds human beings and human action beyond any primordial forms of society in traditional societies. But if this is so, then there is something special in Ubuntu itself, other than the historical time and group in which the concept may find expression. It is for this understanding of Ubuntu that this paper makes an argument.

4. Reconstituting the Parameters for Understanding African Knowledge Systems and the Place of Ubuntu

In the last two sections I have discussed the distinction between African knowledge and African knowledge systems. I also have discussed variations in understanding Ubuntu. In this sub-section I argue for a preferential selection of African knowledge systems, alongside the idea of Ubuntu as a trans-historical human characteristic, as a better position that can provide foundations for understanding or assessing the kind of knowledge culture that African universities should take part in and that can contribute meaningfully to the shaping of knowledge.

The idea of African indigenous knowledge systems is a preferred position because of the argument that these systems are about particular ways of understanding the world, which are infused with human and moral values capable of generating and sustaining human social practices. The idea that the metaphysical forms a complete whole with the physical world supports the very idea of a person as a combination of the soul and body, to use Platonic forms. Similarly, the idea of society being supported and supportive of both the natural world and the spiritual world is not some form of deism. The interconnectedness of issues that this position supports further implies that the structures of knowledge, the behaviors of people, as well as the environment and the issues that matter to people, are interconnected and connected to each other. At this point, such consideration may be regarded as having migrated to a consideration of local knowledge as a relevant factor in building African knowledge systems in the contemporary world.

In the following sub-section I will provide a brief characterization of the African university today in an attempt to argue that the directions that these characteristics are showing are in fact a departure from the preferential position re-imagined above.

5. The Competing Interests in Positioning Knowledge in Higher Education in Africa

Most universities use a three-pronged approach in conducting their business. They assess themselves and opt to be assessed in terms of how well they promote research, their activities in teaching (both undergraduate as well as postgraduate programs) and their community service. In pursuing these objectives, it has become common practice to think that these arms of service rendered by the university are for the promotion of the common good. In view of the broader agenda of promoting the public good, Mala Singh (2014: 99, citing Sorlin and Vessuri, 2007) argues:
   The notions of the knowledge society and knowledge economy, despite
   differences in the social presumptions and change agendas
   underpinning these two notions, are central to the current framing
   of internally and externally defined goals and purposes of higher
   education. As a result, higher education institutions are
   attempting to respond simultaneously to the entrepreneurial demands
   of the knowledge economy and the broader 'social good' aspirations
   of the knowledge society.


As much as the question of public good is an age-old debate within the South African higher education economy, as well as in the debates on the purposes of higher education across the continent, the push from the neoliberal managerial agenda is reshaping and redefining this space. To date, this debate is a reflection of competing positions on what contemporary universities should do and how they should operate in relation to the broader society. It is about the "the ideological and practical implications of the changing 'social compact' between higher education and society" (Singh, 2014: 99).

What is really at stake in the management of higher education in Africa? Why is there so much contestation? How can universities navigate through these tensions? What is really at stake in the African universities is the growing influence of neo-liberal managerial practices, as a result of which counting heads and filling performance rubrics has become more important than the type of heads that are being counted or the quality of outputs that count for an institution's or a faculty's contribution to building the knowledge economy. It is also about minding the growing numbers that pass through higher education without a real assessment of the level of capabilities that universities have managed to develop and that will enable graduates to navigate through the terrain of the workplace. As much as these are problematic on their own, these preoccupations also raise questions about whose knowledge is being promoted and to whose good such promotion is (Divala, 2014). Singh (2014: 99-100) captures these tensions when she quotes Hind (2010) and Bailey and Freedman (2011) in stating that "numerous critiques of overly economistic framings of higher education have yielded counter-proposals for revalorising public-good objectives in the ethos and work of higher education institutions." Singh is actually of the view that "the ideological constraints and translational difficulties in moving towards an overarching public good regime make the potential and prospects of the notion uncertain, ambiguous and almost precarious in constituting a new foundational basis for considering the value of higher education to the needs of social change" (Singh, 2014: 101). Hence, the reaffirmation of public-good values in higher education comes on the heels of some of the failings of the neoliberal approach to managing higher education.

Among other things, the move towards global and neoliberal positions has seen universities shifting focus towards the attainment of global competitiveness. The idea of global competitiveness, although good in the sense that it keeps the university on its toes to maintain good standards, has its flip side. Pursuing global excellence and competitiveness has led universities into a process of managing the tension between local demands, such as increasing access, and the global imperative of becoming efficient and producing globally competitive forms of knowledge, which in many cases do not speak to the immediate needs of the local people. In most of these cases, the local becomes shelved because it is neither a source of substantive funding from government or the private sector, nor is it a consideration in university rankings. Global university rankings have of late become a yardstick for measuring a university that performs well over and above those whose performance is dismal.

In view of the above, Soudien (2014: 5) quotes Dr Max Price, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT), who fears that, although UCT has been ranked number one in South Africa over a number of years, there is a danger in the ranking systems, "especially where they are designed with an eye on universities in developed countries, (where) they may lead to behaviours and redesign of strategy to improve the rankings rather than to do what's right for the local setting." This thinking implies that what is the right thing for the university is for it to contribute to the knowledge economy. The paper further cites the Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University, Saleem Badat, who argues that the rankings have "little intrinsic value and serve no meaningful educational or social purpose" (Soudien, 2014, 5). These two views reveal that the game of global competitiveness through rankings and other managerial practices diverts from the promotion of the public good when considering what universities should be doing on the African continent. Other proponents who have been cited in this work explicitly raise the tension between the production of knowledge for local consumption and that for global competitiveness. They argue that being praised as a high-notch researcher by peers across the globe has little significance if one's university has not managed to use its knowledge advantage to produce knowledge that is relevant to the lives and progress of local communities in the university's ambit of outreach. I agree with the sentiments of Badat and others that "to define the university enterprise by these specific outputs, and to (support) ... it only through metrics that measure them, is to misunderstand the nature of the enterprise and its potential to deliver social benefit" (Badat, 2010: 4, cited in Soudien, 2014: 5-6). It is these negative permutations and effects of current higher education practice and productivity that call for a re-imagination of Ubuntu in higher education practice because it puts the African university at odds with the obligation to contribute meaningfully towards building a relevant knowledge culture on the continent. Singh (2014: 102) concludes that "resisting or mediating public 'bads' and increasing or joining up a variety of public-good interventions remains as necessary and valuable tasks in the face of contending social purposes of higher education".

6. The Plausibility of African Knowledge Systems and Ubuntu in Providing a Better Ground for the Role of the African University

This paper proposes a re-imaged standpoint on African knowledge systems, alongside relevant formulations of Ubuntu, as an appropriate approach to the construction and promotion of relevant knowledge cultures across the higher education sector on the African continent. In this regard, I also propose that the African university can only be seen as advancing relevant knowledge cultures if such knowledges are in line with the preferential positions on African knowledge systems cum Ubuntu.

If the above arguments hold, what are the implications for higher education on the continent? First, the idea of African knowledge systems, as discussed in the first section, is of a systematic and holistic consideration of different facets of society in terms of how they stand in relation to each other, and the extent to which each one of them is an essential component of society. The idea in African knowledge systems that the physical and the spiritual are intricately linked and influence one another could be used particularly in restructuring teaching, learning and research, as well as managerial practices in the African universities, such that the university practices around them do not alienate people from each other and society, and that they promote their sense of belonging, responsibility as well as caring. In some way, though, this approach may be considered as going directly against what universities proclaim in the pillar principles of their own operations, which are academic freedom and institutional autonomy. Although it is the case that debates around these two principles are never exhausted, mainly because the principles are also tied to governance practices, which in themselves are issues concerning power centers and the execution of power, it is not necessarily the case that institutional autonomy and academic freedom are antithetical to communitarian positions, where shared values and practices are core (Jansen, 2006; Waghid, 2006; Divala, 2008; and many other scholars).

This paper has argued for a re-articulated or a re-imaged position on Ubuntu in which the values of human interconnectedness, common humanity, caring, sharing, respect, compassion for each other and many similar others hold center stage in the ways research, teaching and community service are promoted and managed in African universities. Such a proposition cannot be considered as a free-for-all position where, instead of improving the conditions of life within the university, things deteriorate. In a number of cases, both in South Africa and on the African continent as a whole, rundown institutions have partly been blamed on the African mindset as one that cannot work with strict categories of operation, much of which borders on generalization. Metz (2014) proposes a way of operating with Ubuntu that can be applied in this regard. He states that "bureaucracies concerned about their people do everything to meet their needs and in so doing they have to reduce some Ubuntu when it comes to identifying closely with the people (the clients, in managerial language) in order to produce much more Ubuntu when it comes to improving their (overall) quality of life" (Metz, 2014: 69). In earlier work, Metz (2007: 240, cited in Letseka 2012: 54-55) argued that "the most justified normative theory of right action that has an African pedigree is the requirement to produce harmony and to reduce discord, (and that) harmony is a matter of identity and solidarity." In this case, the values that a university can and should appeal to primarily are those that at the same time are the values of the people the university serves. These are the same values at the core of a particular conception of public good that every university needs to operate with. If research is promoted, not necessarily because it promotes society's greater good, but because it pushes the global rankings or position of the university in relation to other universities in the world, chances are that such a promotion of knowledge diverges from the ideals of African knowledge systems, as well as from the values enshrined in Ubuntu. Similarly, if neo-liberal managerial practices continuously force academics into an endless filling in of forms and providing performance numbers for the sake of providing numbers, which have little to do with this common good, chances are that the best that university is doing is to alienate people from themselves, hence moving itself far from becoming a meaningful agent for the promotion of a relevant knowledge culture within African universities.

7. Concluding Remarks

This paper arose from a reflection on how African universities can contribute towards the building of knowledge on the continent. Although this debate is much wider than what has been presented here, this paper located itself within a re-examination of how knowledge systems and Ubuntu are explained. The paper has argued that a simple reference to African knowledge cannot work, because it is this conception that in many respects runs the danger of being narrowed down to bodies of knowledge that are stuck in particular histories of the African people. I have referred to this conception as an ethno-philosophical one. Furthermore, the paper has argued that relevant knowledge cultures can be constructed and promoted, but only if an appropriate understanding of Ubuntu is utilized. In this regard I have argued that what is central to being African, the value and knowledge systems that distinguish an African way of life, cannot be considered as prehistoric. These are modes of being that know no historical restriction. They refer to the interconnectedness of body and soul, or physical and spiritual, yet they are not ritualistic. So, the fact that modern society is less ritualistic than pre-modern, traditional society does not make the mindset of human interconnectedness and responsibility towards each other less plausible. Such a position gives the African university an edge to promote a knowledge culture that is relevant to Africa.

JOSEPH JINJA DIVALA

jdivala@uj.ac.za

University of Johannesburg

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Author:Divala, Joseph Jinja
Publication:Knowledge Cultures
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Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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