Ubuntu: Opening to Another and the experience of the Other as Own Flesh

Martin-Buber-Forschungsstelle Guest Lecture 2023 by Prof. Dr. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela (Stellenbosch University, South Africa)
Picture: Martin-Buber-Forschungsstelle
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This lecture explores some connections between Ubuntu and Martin Buber's philosophy and examines the ways in which Ubuntu and the deeply embodied encounter with others can be seen as a practical expression of Buber's philosophy. Both Ubuntu and I-Thou relationships are grounded in the idea of relationality, and both emphasise the importance of recognizing the humanity of others. However, there are also some important differences between the two. This lecture brings these points of similarity and difference into dialogue and considers how Ubuntu's emphasis on community and interconnectedness and Buber’s concept of the I-Thou relationship might be applied in practical ways to explore new ways of addressing the complex social justice issues in post-conflict societies.

Prof. Dr. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela Prof. Dr. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela Image: Privat

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela is professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University, where she is the founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Violence and the Reparative Quest. She holds the South African National Research Foundation Chair in Violent Histories and Transgenerational Trauma. Her interests focus mainly on two strands of research. Her research interest and exploring what the “repair” of these transgenerational traumatic effects might mean. The first is intergenerational repercussions of historical trauma and the dehumanising experiences of oppression and violent abuse. For her second research area, she expands her earlier research on remorse and forgiveness to explore what she terms “reparative humanism” and its intersection with the African concept of Ubuntu. She holds an honorary Doctor of Theology from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.