Ubuntu Dialogues

From peacebuilding to popular culture, feminism, and traditional healing


In 2021, Ubuntu Dialogues Seminar Fellows will present their research exploring the concept of ubuntu in topics ranging from peacebuilding, feminism, white individualism, human dignity, and traditional healing. 

What can we learn about decolonisation and the South African law from an Ubuntu perspective? This will be the topic of the first South African hosted webinar that forms part of the Ubuntu Dialogues Seminar Exchange Project presented in a partnership between the Stellenbosch University Museum and Michigan State University’s African Studies Centre. Starting on 17 August, five Ubuntu Dialogues Seminar Fellows from South Africa will present their research exploring the concept of Ubuntu in topics ranging from White individualism, human dignity, and spiritual and relational values associated with Ubuntu. The South African Fellows were selected from more than 30 applications following a rigorous interview process earlier this year.

In the first webinar of the series Dr. Allison Geduld will present her work entitled, Ubuntu, Decolonisation and South African Law. Dr. Geduld is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law at North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus). She will be in conversation with Professor Rosalind Dixon who teaches law at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

Dr. Motsamai Molefe from the Centre for Leadership Ethics at Fort Hare University will present his work, Ubuntu, Human Dignity and a Decent Society on 31 August. Professor Nontobeko Moyo, author of the book, Africanity and Ubuntu as Decolonizing Discourse, will be responding to Dr. Molefe’s presentation. Professor Moyo is the programme director at the School of Social Work at Indiana University, South Bend in the USA.

Against Ubuntu: Reflections on White Individualism and Male Violence in South Africa is the topic of Dr Nadia Sanger, a senior lecturer in the Department of English Studies at Stellenbosch University. On 14 September she will be in conversation with Professor Amy Yeboah Quarkame of the Department of Africana Studies at Howard University in the USA.

The last webinar to feature the 2021 cohort of South African Ubuntu Dialogues Seminar Exchange Fellows, will be on 9 November. Dr Sinethemba Makanya from the Centre for the study of Race, Gender and Class at the University of Johannesburg, and Mx. Ashwin Thyssen, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology at Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Theology will be in conversation with Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela of Stellenbosch University’s Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation. The title of this webinar is, In the Spirit of Ubuntu – A New Vision of Society and the Self. Dr. Makanya’s research interest is indigenous knowledge systems and how the application of these philosophies contributes to the strengthening of theory from the global south. Mx Thyssen’s research is in the intersection of religion, race and sexuality.

Earlier this year, three Ubuntu Dialogues Seminar Exchange Fellows selected by Michigan State University presented their work as part of the webinar exchange. Dr. Chris Mokolatsie, whose focus in Ubuntu stems from his interest in language and speaking culture as it emerges in the Sesotho Culture, and Professor Jeanine Ntihirageza presented her work on Ubuntu in the context of peacebuilding and conflict resolution on 30 March. Ms. Angela Tate, a PhD student in history at Northwestern University, Illinois presented her work, When Glamour Was African: Etta Moten Barnett And Race, Gender, And Celebrity In The Black Freedom Struggle, 1945-1970, in conversation with Stellenbosch University’s Dr Uhuru Phalafala on 13 April. Ms. Tate’s interest in Ubuntu is in its intersection with race, gender, popular culture and the Pan-African politics of the 20th century. Mr. Emmanuel Chima, a PhD student in the School of Social Work at Michigan State University will present his work on trauma and psychosocial

wellbeing among refugee youth and older adults at the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi on 28 September 2021.He will be in conversation with Professor Paul Bukuluki of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

The 2021 Ubuntu Dialogues Seminar Exchange Fellows join the 2019-20 recipients at Stellenbosch University – Ms. Inga Dyantyi, Dr. Rhoda Malgas, Dr. Pfunzo Sigodi, and Dr. Efua Prah. The 2019-20 fellows at Michigan State University were Professor Emilie Diouf (Brandeis University), Professor Frederick Gooding (Honors College, TCU), Professor John Mason (University of Virginia), and Ms. Unifier Dyer (University of Wisconsin-Madison). The recordings of the earlier webinars and more information about the projects are available here.

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