Prof James Ogude’s Ubuntu and Personhood and Prof Julian Müller, Prof John Eliastam and Prof Sheila Trahar’s Unfolding Narratives of Ubuntu in Southern Africa were recently launched to critical acclaim.
The books are the first fruit of the Templeton Foundation-funded research project on Ubuntu located at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at UP. This interdisciplinary project included scholars and students from the Faculties of Law, Humanities and Theology. Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof Cheryl de la Rey was personally involved in mobilising the initial core group of scholars who became chief investigators in this project. Prof De la Rey was delighted to see that this project has produced two books already, with two more on the way.
In her remarks, Prof De la Rey challenged the scholars to bring their Ubuntu research findings to bear upon the University of Pretoria’s efforts to transform the curriculum. She also suggested that the research findings be disseminated widely and not merely within the academic world.
The two books constitute what Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, one of the discussants, described as “The latest and freshest statement on both the meanings and purposes of Ubuntu”. He went on to predict that the books “will both invigorate and helpfully complicate the current discourse on Ubuntu in Africa”.
The book by Prof Müller et al. is based on the struggles of imaginary people living in an imaginary South African town called Ubuntuville, whereas the volume edited by Prof Ogude presents a more conventional academic approach to discussions on Ubuntu.
Prof Harry Garuba, associate professor in the African Studies Unit at the University of Cape Town, directed his remarks to Prof Ogude’s volume. Referencing Aimé Césaire, Amilcar Cabral and Michel Foucault, Prof Garuba described the volume as “Capturing an important moment in Africa’s much-needed ‘return to the source’, and the reclamation of ‘subjugated knowledges’.”
In his closing remarks, Prof Maluleke thanked the writers, urging those who used fiction to be more forthcoming and more forthright with their findings. He also called for further reflections on how concepts of Ubuntu can be utilised in tackling the challenges of the new age of artificial intelligence, as well as the environmental crises the world faces.
Prof James Ogude’s Ubuntu and Personhood and Prof Julian Müller, Prof John Eliastam and Prof Sheila Trahar’s Unfolding Narratives of Ubuntu in Southern Africa are available for purchase on Amazon and at academic bookstores.
Prof James Ogude and Prof Julian Muller with their books at the launch