ABSTRACT

Introduction In this chapter, we draw on the resources of philosophy (particularly African philosophy) to re-imagine the future university in South Africa. One of the consequences of the democratisation of South African society is a renewed focus on aspects of a distinctly African origin, and this chapter explores ubuntu and communality as two concepts signifi cant for the university’s African origin. We discuss ubuntu and communality in relation to two distinct but related contexts (“African” and “South African”), and we briefl y explain these two contexts. Although the literature sometimes uses these terms interchangeably, they are distinct because South Africa is a sovereign state on the continent of Africa, with its own historical, political, social, national, economical and cultural context, which sets it apart from the rest of Africa. It is interchangeable at times because South Africa is part of the African continent and many South Africans regard themselves as African, thus associating themselves with the geographical and cultural criteria listed above. Our discussion speaks to African universities within the context of a post-modern society; in this sense the university faces challenges similar to that of universities elsewhere in the world. As such it is a modern university which is expected to work towards many different goals (see Husén, 1994: 22) which are far from compatible with each other. Some are in direct confl ict, such as competence and quality with participation, or equality with quality.