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Ubuntu and moral regeneration

14 April 2007

In South Africa we’ve been having an on/off debate about moral regeneration. A couple of days ago on talk radio — Morning Talk on SAFm, hosted by Xolani (or is it Cwelani? People seem to call him both) Gwala there was some guy saying that we should make spirituality rather than religion the basis of our morality, and that ubuntu was the epitome of spirituality rather than religion.

But we can talk all we like about ubuntu. If it was ever part of our culture, it is so no longer. In our culture human life is cheap.

And that is not true in South Africa only. An Anglican website TitusOneNine, reproduces part of an article in a UK newspaper which epitomises this attitude, which is the very reverse of ubuntu.

My belief in the ultimate sociological, emotional and practical necessity for abortion did, as I have mentioned before, become even stronger after I had my two children. It is only after you have had a nine-month pregnancy, laboured to get the child out, fed it, cared for it, sat with it until 3am, risen with it at 6am, swooned with love for it and been reduced to furious tears by it that you really understand just how important it is for a child to be wanted.

It is the implicit premiss that lies behind this sentiment that is so lacking in ubuntu. It is the same premiss that led police in some South American countries to form death squads to assassinate street children, and less drastically, led the Tshwane Metro Police to round up street kids who hang around shopping malls begging, and dump them out in the veld. Why? Because they are unwanted. It is important for children to be wanted, and so if they are unwanted, we are justified in getting rid of them by any means.

And the question arises: who has the right to decide who is wanted and who is not? Illegal immigrants, refugees, street children — all of them are unwanted by a lot of people. And in Europe there are gypsies, and other ethnic minorities in all sots of places who are “unwanted” by other people, and the fact that they are “unwanted” has been used to justify ethnic cleansing.

But who has to “want” them before they have the right to life and existence?

As long as this attitude that it is OK to get rid of people one does not “want” persists, the culture of violence will continue to grow, and all the talk of ubuntu will be empty.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. handmaidmaryleah permalink
    19 April 2007 5:38 pm

    That blockquote on abortion is one of the most callus I have ever read, abortion is extremely hurtful to women and our Supreme Court finally did away with one of them heinous forms of it yesterday, Glory to God. The lamentations of the pro-abortion crowd is, well, just more sadness.
    This its cool to be spiritual but not religious is all over, especially if you are a person of color and a male of a certain age in the media. Just watch telelvision, middle age good looking black men will always be “spiritual”, if you are religious you will be a middle-age evangelical Republican nut or a mormon polygamist.
    Ah, stereo-types!
    the handmaid,


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