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African Humanism

Photograph:  Lynette Cawood – Director Childline Gauteng & Mme Lineo Rabotapi

Childline Gauteng mourns the loss of our colleague and friend of over two decades, the late Mme Lineo Rabotapi, who taught us the meaning of African Humanism or Ubuntu, and we pen this article in honour of her legacy to the children of Childline.

According to Reuel Khosa (2011) “African humanness” encompasses the values of the universal brotherhood of humankind, including: belonging; dependence on relations with all including mother earth; respect for the dignity and rights of the individual; working for the common good; a reverence for our Elders and Ancestors; and, the overarching God-principle that recognizes our humanness comes from The Spirit.

African Humanity comes with the Moral Authority of ancient tradition where the village council gathered together under the leadership of the Chief to reflect on resolving social and economic issues based on the principles of restorative justice for the collective good.

These are the principles which give us hope for the future of South Africa and guide the Childline service delivery to the children and families we serve.  We at Childline call on all to remember and return to the spirit of African Humanism and traditional Moral Authority, for the sake of our children and the generations to come that they may inherit the country of our dreams – that so many have given their lives for.

As we, once again, face an uncertain future in our motherland. The transition from our autocratic history to a democratic dispensation is not without great challenges.  This is especially true for our families struggling to maintain parental authority whilst incorporating a human rights framework within their child rearing practices.  This authority is essential for growing children who need their caretakers to contain their natural anarchical tendencies until they have the maturity to be guided by their own internal values.

Despite our achievements post 1994, there is a great need to restore African Humanness and Moral Authority within some of our organs of state, corporates and individuals.  Nationally we need them to lead the country and be role models of positive values, especially for our children.

In the words of Martin Luther King: Love without power is anemic and power without love is abusive.  Let us all strive to ensure our children learn the value of love (African Humanity) and power (moral authority) to lead us to a better future.

We honour Mme Lineo for her teachings: building unity in a divided and unequal society; caring for our children; honouring the elders; her matriarchal moral authority based on African values of community, respect and traditions; and demonstrating this through her actions on a daily basis, 24/7 and 365 days a year.

We take comfort for Reuel Khoza’s words: “The human community of spirit is so central that not even death can interfere… the link between the living and living dead is sacrosanct and unbreakable:  those who have gone before us have joined the spirit of the universe to watch over us and cement our respectful relationships…”(2011; page xxxix).

Lynne Cawood

Director – Childline Gauteng

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