Social capital and the imperatives of the concept and life of ubuntu in the South African context

Mbaya, Henry (2011)

CITATION: Mbaya, H. 2011. Social capital and the imperatives of the concept and life of ubuntu in the South African context. Scriptura, 106:1-8, doi:10.7833/106-0-141.

The original publication is available at http://scriptura.journals.ac.za

Article

In this paper, I explore the relationship between ‘social capital’ and the African concept and way of life of ubuntu. I argue that very close parallels exist in the manner that the concept of social capital and African concept and way of life of ubuntu exist and operate. On one hand, just as networks, co-operation, collaboration and mutuality define essential elements that define social capital in the West, on the other hand, the African concept and way of life of ubuntu stress interdependency, communality as is manifested in the spirit of ‘brotherhood’ and ‘brotherliness’. Similarly, just as ubuntu entails a web of relationships in which African hospitality and mutual support characterise African life, so social capital rests on interconnectedness, trust, the elements that drive corporate organisations of the West. Thus both concepts, albeit in different ways, tend to promote participation in life that enhance social welfare. Despite such similarities, however, there are differences between the two concepts. As a Western concept social capital revolves around socioeconomic benefits that the members of the corporate organisations yield, while ubuntu is about African hospitality and mutual support that benefit Africans and those who interact with them.

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