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Abstract

Drawing upon the African concept of ubuntu, this article examines the epistemic orientations toward individual-society relations that inform democratic citizenship and identity in South Africa. Findings from focus group interviews conducted with 50 Xhosa teachers from all seven primary and intermediate schools in a township outside Cape Town depict the cultural contours of democracy and how the teachers reaffirm and question the dominant Western-oriented democratic narrative. Through ubuntu, defined as the virtue of being human premised upon respect, the Xhosa teachers interrupt the prevailing rights-and-responsibilities discourse to interpose a conception of democracy based on rights, responsibilities, and respect. Society and schools, in their view, fall short in educating young learners for democratic citizenship in South Africa; their insights offer ways for formal schooling to improve upon its democratic mission.

Response to this Article

Moeketsi Letseka, Enacting Social Justice Ethically: Individual and Communal Habits