Experiences of Ubuntu and Implications of African philosophy for social work in Australia
Keywords:Ubuntu, African family, Indigenous knowledges, social work practice
Indigenous knowledges come in many ways and they are contained in diverse philosophies.
Africa’s overaching philosophy that shapes its knowledges, values, practices, approaches,
methodologies and perspectives is Ubuntu. Put simply, Ubuntu is about seeing the individual
through their family, community, environment and spirituality. Ubuntu has no specific place
or date of origin but is expected to have originated in west-central and northern parts of Africa
and spread throughout the continent through migration that started 4,000 years ago. It is
found in all communities of Black people in Africa. Literature on Ubuntu first appeared in
the 1960s but it is more recently that the philosophy has gained prominence in social work.
In this article authors used an autoethnographic approach to share their lived experiences of
Ubuntu. By doing this, we are hoping to add to available literature and to provide a nuanced
understanding of the philosophy. The philosophy of Ubuntu will be introduced first and
narratives of each author’s lived experiences in Africa and Australia will be provided followed
by a combined reflection. The reflection focuses on use of Ubuntu among Black African
families in Australia and the issues emanating from preserving these values in a foreign
environment. The discussion will then turn to implications for practice where authors share
their insights into what needs to change to make Australian social work more meaningful to
Black people of African origin in Australia and how Ubuntu could impact social work practice
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