by zunguzungu

Mukoma wa Ngugi:

“Imagine the following equations. Western political philosophy – He that is master of himself will soon be master of others. Hegelian dialectics – one plus one equals two. Newtonian physics – what goes up surely comes down. Marxist philosophy – it takes a village to raise a child. Aesthetics – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It doesn’t add up to infantilize Western philosophy like this – Western thought is not immediately reducible to a set of wise sayings. Why is it to so easy to seamlessly move from Western philosophy to African proverbs?
“…in Western philosophy you talk about Antinomy – a logical contradiction – not an oxymoron – because meaning is contained in the clash of its competing claims – An earlier version the Hegelian dialectic. In Zulu culture you have umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu – A person is human being through other people. This concept, usually treated as a proverb is really an antinomy – that is, my humanity is dependent on your humanity, I cannot be a human being alone. The Zulu antinomy is a summation of Ubuntu philosophy, in the same way the movement from thesis, antithesis to synthesis is a summation of the Hegelian dialectic. It is not a proverb.”