Original Research

Ubuntu is homeless: An urban theological reflection

Stephanus F. de Beer
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 36, No 2 | a1471 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v36i2.1471 | © 2015 Stephanus F. de Beer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 May 2015 | Published: 28 September 2015

About the author(s)

Stephanus F. de Beer, Centre for Contextual Ministry, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article is reading ubuntu in the light of homelessness in the cities and towns of South Africa. It suggests that ubuntu itself is homeless and displaced as a way of being human together. Instead of the mediation of dignity and justice through an ubuntu-solidarity, street homeless people and others living vulnerably and in precarious circumstances are violated and excluded through a displacement of ubuntu-values. It also suggests a growing disconnect between the philosophy of ubuntu and its actual embodiment in the local urban political economy, local faith communities and local universities. Acknowledging the aspirational edge of ubuntu, the article then concludes to envision going beyond mere abstractions in the said spheres – the political economy, faith communities and local universities – in order to seek for concrete expressions of ubuntu-solidarity, asserting and mediating respect, dignity and justice.


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