Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Ubuntu Orality as a Living Philosophy

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Ubuntu Orality as a Living Philosophy

Article excerpt


It is not the intention of the author to create a false dichotomy about Blackness; rather it is his aim to enter the contemporary Black academic discourse with another form of remembering. The author's remembering is grounded in Ubuntu philosophy, which has found constancy through language and other social symbolic expressions. This cultural transmission process has allowed knowledge from the author's ancestors to cascade down to him. Yet, the author is also aware that there are other stories that have not yet found voice. So the author speaks with the hope and aim of leaving room for others to express their philosophical truths as our forbearers have done for us. This being said, the author conveys that the power of Black knowledge production has been taken up as anything else except as the intellectual creation of Black people. It is therefore not surprising that such neo-colonial actions continued up to today, still undermine the will of all Black children to engage in Black knowledge production. This neo-colonial reality of hatred which is directed towards Blackness undermines the new generation of Black children's willingness to engage their Blackness. As the global neo-colonial ideologies make Black children doubt their Blackness it is our Black children, who start to doubt their true Black power. To lose Black power is to lose our ancestral homeland of Africa and without Africa there is no real substantial Black power. So to contest and combat the undermining of Blackness the author will engage one of the forms of Black knowledge production which the descendants of the old Ubuntu nations call Ubuntu Orality. This paper will highlight the ancestral experiences of Blackness which is Ubuntu knowledge. Other Africans in different geopolitical locations have expressed their Ubuntu consciousness as Pan- Africanism as conveyed by Marcus Garvey and Afro-centricity as expressed by Molefi Kete Asante. This is evidence that this knowledge is stored in our genetic memory; which means that when we share our memories of our Blackness we help each other re-member our "Ubuntuness". Elders, Mothers, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters let us use our storied engagements to reclaim our histories so that we may use that which is good for our journey into the future. Sankofa, Sankofa, Sankofa.1

The starting point for orientation is the point from which the world unfolds... Orientations are about how we begin; how we proceed from "here," which affects how what is "there" appears, how it represents itself (p. 8). So what is "East" is actually what is east of the prime meridian, the zero point of longitude. The East as well as the left is thus oriented; it requires its direction only by taking a certain point of view as given (p. 14). The direction we take excludes things for us, before we even get there (p. 15).

-Sara Ahmed (2006, pp. 8, 14, 15)

If orientations are about how we begin then I want to point out that in my decolonizing process I purposefully take Ubuntu theory as the given starting point that shapes how my storytelling gives us a more culturally situated picture about the Ubuntu worldview. As part of centering Ubuntu, I use a discursive theoretical framework because it allows me to engage my many political arenas. A good example of this is highlighted in the way that I use the anti-colonial theory of Aime Cesaire to highlight what colonialism is in the Ubuntu context, which then allows me to enter the Ubuntu worldview in a more meaningful way. The key concepts that I use to address the Ubuntu worldview are Ubuntu as a people; Ubuntu as a theory; Ubuntu epistemology; Ubuntu honouring theory and Africana phenomenology theory.

Aime Cesaire's anti-colonial theoretical work, entitled Discourse on Colonialism, serves to illustrate how the colonial institutions were justified and how this justification continues to be perpetuated. The most important function of his work is that it serves to deconstruct the false memory that colonialism is still trying to impose on me. …

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