30 May 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo Rulanzen Martin
Africa Memorial lecture
From left; Dr Stephanie Cawood, Director of CGAS; Prof Francis Nyamnjoh; Prof Heidi Hudson, Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, and Dr Engela van Staden, Vice-Rector: Academic

Ubuntu is a word we all know and, to some extent, relate to. Prof Francis Nyamnjoh aimed to delve and explore this African philosophy when he presented the 2019 Africa Day Memorial Lecture with the topic Ubuntuism and Africa: Actualised, Misappropriated, Endangered and Reappraised

The memorial lecture is hosted annually by the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies (CGAS) at the University of the Free State (UFS) to coincide with Africa Month celebrations. Prof Nyamnjoh holds a PhD from the University of Leicester in the UK. He is currently a professor of social anthropology at the University of Cape Town and has been a scholar in sociology, anthropology and communication science at universities in Cameroon and Botswana. The lecture took place on 22 May 2019 in the Equitas Auditorium on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

“When I saw the topic I thought this was very contemporary. We at the university decided to include the Ubuntu principle in our learning and teaching strategy,” said Dr Engela van Staden, Vice-Rector: Academic

Ubuntu as a binding factor for interconnectedness 

We live a world in which we cannot stand alone as the principle of Ubuntu tells us that we are who we are because of our interconnectedness with other people. “It is important to recognise that you stand on others to be tall,” said Prof Nyamnjoh. 

“We are the product of ongoing conversations on interconnectedness."

“I have argued that, in the spirit of Ubuntu, Africans, their identities and mobilities are part and parcel of the experience of being human in a world on the move. And their contributions are needed in today’s world more than ever. 

“I have broached the context of globalisation and histories of unequal encounters that have shaped relations in Africa and beyond under global capitalism."

“Even as it is increasingly seriously tested by opportunism, Ubuntuism, sometimes a reality and sometimes an ideal, brings hope and redemption, and offers a feasible framework for participatory and inclusive emancipatory social change,” said Prof Nyamnjoh. 

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