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Ubuntu and indigenous knowledge in relation to the elderly at KwaSani Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal.

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Ubuntu and Indigenous Knowledge (IK) epitomise African identity. In a way, these two concepts represent African philosophy which is original and specific to the African people. This study set out to establish how these concepts have been used in a specific community (KwaSani Municipality) which is located in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Some of the objectives of this study were to establish the meaning of Ubuntu and its relationship to the elderly people in general and to the community of KwaSani in particular; and to define the meaning of IK with the view to establish whether it can have an influence in a community using KwaSani as a case study. Using African humanism as a theoretical approach, the study focused on the KwaSani community with the view to understand how Ubuntu and IK operate in this place. The study adopted the mixed method approach to solicit both qualitative and quantitative data. This was done through a self-administered questionnaire as well as a focus group discussion. Empirical data was then supplemented by using secondary sources which discuss related themes so that the study could be located in the broader context. The findings showed that while KwaSani community lives in harmony, there are a number of factors which divide them. One such factor is the age difference. The youth seem to have a different worldview on several issues – including ‘democratic rights’ about which the elderly hold different opinions. Secondly, the elderly feel that there is insufficient space for them to practice Ubuntu and IK. Another finding is that the community is experiencing some challenges occasioned by poor leadership. Based on these and other findings, the study recommends that more space should be provided for Ubuntu and IK to be used in addressing societal issues and ensuring that there is development. This applies both to KwaSani and beyond. Regarding future research, the study recommends that future studies should interrogate existing government policies which focus on African systems so that where possible African philosophy could be reverted to in order to address some of the present challenges.


Master of Arts in Political Science. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College 2015.


Ubuntu (Philosophy), Humanism--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal., Ethnoscience--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal., Indigenous peoples--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal--Social life and customs., Indigenous peoples--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal--Ethnic identity., Knowledge, Sociology of., Theses--Political science., KwaSani Municipality., Indigenous knowledge.