17 May 2021 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Colin Chasi’s latest book, Ubuntu for Warriors, looks at lost and forgotten warrior traditions in Africa and how ubuntu relates to these.

It is not common for scholars to challenge foundational ideas of their epoch. But this is the case with the recently published book, Ubuntu for Warriors, from Africa World Press, which extends the boundaries of current thinking on the African moral philosophy of ‘ubuntu’. The author of this ground-breaking book is Prof Colin Chasi, Director of the Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Drawing on various biographical sources and interweaving these with conceptual arguments, Prof Chasi introduces the view that ubuntu is for warriors too. Interestingly, the book does not seek to ‘knock out’ existing African moral theories that focus on harmony, peace, and reconciliation. Rather, it recalls the lost and forgotten warrior traditions through which Africans have sought to advance just war and peace. To this end, the names of venerated Africans such as King Shaka, President Nelson Mandela, President Kenneth Kaunda, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and Steve Bantu Biko are prominent. 

The book’s reappraisal of the contributions to the warrior tradition of these Africans makes for engaging conversations about war, violence, warriors — and about the ubuntu of all of these. For Prof Nyasha Mboti, author of a forthcoming book introducing the need to study apartheid systematically, the main contribution of Prof Chasi’s book “is to rescue ubuntu from the one-dimensional philosophical straitjacket long imposed on it in normative readings”.

Prof Chasi's riveting book not only overturns commonly held epistemological premises of the philosophy of ubuntu. In view of this, Dr Winston Mano, Director of the Africa Media Centre at the University of Westminster, says it “goes further to uncover and position ubuntu as a resource for counterhegemonic struggles. It is a must-read not only for all those interested in taking African philosophy but also and especially for all those warriors involved in moving African epistemologies to the centre.”

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