Exploring African Relational Ethic of Ubuntu

for Inclusion and Solidarity in the Humanitarian Field


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This paper seeks to explore the nature and implication of African relational moral theory as captured in the Ubuntu concept for the humanitarian field, in general, and the humanitarian strand of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC), in particular.

Ubuntu is an important concept to explore for two reasons: first, as an important theoretical ethical model, it has the potential of expanding the understanding of humanitarian aid and solidarity for volunteers in the ESC programme, particularly from African perspectives, which many youth volunteers will encounter; second, it provides volunteers with important approaches to embedding inclusivity in humanitarian aid programmes while protecting the value and importance of differences and diversity, for ubuntu is built on the recognition of differences and the need to include differences and diversity into a web or network of relationships for the wellbeing and survival of communities.

Ubuntu, therefore, stresses a co-dependency ethos, which holds that being human is to be in a web of relationship with others, and to provide support for them and this is at the heart of humanitarian aid. The paper, therefore, seeks to strengthen the ethical base of the humanitarian field, in general, and youth volunteering in ESC, in particular, through Ubuntu and the embedded understanding of humanness, solidarity, relationality, reciprocity and cooperation.

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Elvis Deko
Elvis Imafidon
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With expertise in comparative Western and African philosophy, Dr Elvis Imafidon teaches World Philosophies at SOAS University of London. His research interest includes applying theories in African ontology and ethics to understanding lived experiences and practical issues in African societies such as corruption, gender, disability, differences, diversity and inclusion, and personhood.

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