Join Friends of Pambazuka

Subscribe for Free!



Donate to Pambazuka News!

Follow Us

delicious bookmarks facebook twitter

Pambazuka News Pambazuka News is produced by a pan-African community of some 2,600 citizens and organisations - academics, policy makers, social activists, women's organisations, civil society organisations, writers, artists, poets, bloggers, and commentators who together produce insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses and make it one of the largest and most innovative and influential web forums for social justice in Africa.

Latest titles from Pambazuka Press

African Sexualities

Earth Grab A Reader
Sylvia Tamale
A groundbreaking book, accessible but scholarly, by African activists. It uses research, life stories and artistic expression to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities
Buy now

Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

From Citizen to Refugee Horace Campbell
In this elegantly written and incisive account, scholar Horace Campbell investigates the political and economic crises of the early twenty-first century through the prism of NATO's intervention in Libya.
Buy now

Queer African Reader

Demystifying Aid Edited by Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas
A diverse collection of writing from across the continent exploring African LGBTI liberation: identity, tactics for activism, international solidarity, homophobia and global politics, religion and culture, and intersections with social justice movements. A richness of voices, a multiplicity of discourses, a quiverful of arguments. African queers writing for each other, theorising ourselves, making our ...more
Buy now

China and Angola

African Awakening A Marriage of Convenience?
Edited by Marcus Power, Ana Alves
This book focuses on the increased co-operation between Angola and China and shows that although relations with China might have bolstered regime stability and boosted the international standing of the Angolan government, China is not regarded as a long term strategic partner.
Buy now

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

To Cook a ContinentWalter Rodney
Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.
Buy now

Pambazuka News Broadcasts

Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and video content with cutting edge commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent.

    See the list of episodes.

    AU MONITOR

    This site has been established by Fahamu to provide regular feedback to African civil society organisations on what is happening with the African Union.

    Perspectives on Emerging Powers in Africa: December 2011 newsletter

    Deborah Brautigam provides an overview and description of China's development finance to Africa. "Looking at the nature of Chinese development aid - and non-aid - to Africa provides insights into China's strategic approach to outward investment and economic diplomacy, even if exact figures and strategies are not easily ascertained", she states as she describes China's provision of grants, zero-interest loans and concessional loans. Pambazuka Press recently released a publication titled India in Africa: Changing Geographies of Power, and Oliver Stuenkel provides his review of the book.
    The December edition available here.

    The 2010 issues: September, October, November, December, and the 2011 issues: January, February, March , April, May , June , July , August , September, October and November issues are all available for download.

    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    Features

    Teaching uMunthu for global peace

    Reflections on International Day of Peace

    Steve Sharra

    2010-09-23, Issue 497

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/67211

    Bookmark and Share

    Printer friendly version


    cc ILRI
    With youth and development as the thematic focus of this year’s International Day of Peace, Steve Sharra shares insights from the country’s primary school classrooms into how to define and understand peace from a Malawian perspective.

    As I was beginning a seven-month period in 2004 studying prospects for peace education in Malawian classrooms, a friend of mine seemed very surprised at the topic of my study. Why peace education? She asked. Has Malawi been at war lately?

    I don’t exactly remember how I responded, but the question of peace education in the Malawian school system appears to me to be as relevant today as it was six years ago. And as it was probably since we first developed our own education system at independence in 1964. September 21 is International Day of Peace, and the theme for this year is ‘Youth for Peace and Development’. Observing this day prompts me to reflect on what I learned those six months I spent in 2004 visiting Malawian classrooms and talking with Malawian primary school teachers and pupils about how we can define and understand peace from a Malawian perspective.

    A picture of how we may define ‘peace’ from a Malawian perspective started to emerge in my mind when I attended the inauguration of Reverend Bishop Thomas Msusa as Bishop of Zomba Diocese on 17 April 2004. In his homily after the inauguration, Bishop Msusa talked about his guiding principles in his life as a priest, but it was his description of the Malawian philosophy of uMunthu that has stayed with me in the intervening years. The more I thought about uMunthu and its implications for Malawian life, the more intriguing it became. The only person I knew to have given serious thought to the idea of uMunthu within a peace framework was Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In his 1999 book ‘No Future Without Forgiveness’ Tutu argued that the transition South Africa underwent from apartheid to democratic black majority rule was made possible because of what the South Africans call uBuntu. He grants that it was not the best of transitions, but he could not think of another way South Africa could have managed the transition without degenerating into a horrific civil strife. In recent times Desmond Tutu has described post-apartheid South Africa’s socio-economic tensions as a ticking time bomb, but his belief in the power of uMunthu as an African principle of being has not dissipated.

    I was also aware of Malawian philosopher Harvey Sindima’s treatment of uMunthu as an important African philosophy, from his 1995 book ‘Africa’s Agenda: The legacy of liberalism and colonialism in the crisis of African values’. I decided there and then that I needed to look more deeply into this topic, and see which other Malawians had done research on the concept of uMunthu. To say I was pleasantly surprised by what I found would be an understatement. To be sure, none of what I stumbled upon talked about uMunthu as a Malawian or African peace concept, as Tutu had done. However I discovered that there was already a considerable amount of scholarly attention paid to the concept, by Malawian intellectuals such as Augustine Musopole, Gerard Chigona, Chiwoza Bandawe, Richard Tambulasi and Happy Kayuni, among others. I also recall seeing a number of articles from a column in The Nation newspaper, titled ‘uMunthu’. More articles have appeared in other newspapers and magazines as well.

    It was a female primary school teacher who gave me insights that helped me make sense of what Malawian scholars have written about uMunthu, and in the process pushed my thinking in a new direction. I had been wondering how the concept could be thought of from an educator’s viewpoint, and this teacher didn’t hesitate to show me how. She began by giving examples of Malawians in high positions because of their superior rank and educational qualifications, but who did not seem to how practice uMunthu principles in their daily life. She asked, rhetorically, ‘Of what use is a university education if a graduate has no uMunthu?’ She asked similar questions of Malawian bosses in various offices in companies and in government ministries, before making a statement that captured the essence of uMunthu and education. She observed that it was one thing to have an education, and quite another to have uMunthu. We could teach Malawian children all the knowledge necessary to succeed in life, but if we didn’t teach uMunthu, that education was incomplete.

    Looking at uMunthu from this educational perspective raises several questions about how to teach young Malawians, indeed young people in any part of the world. It also offers part of the answer to the question my friend asked in 2004 as to why I was studying prospects for peace education in the Malawian school system. A number of peace educators around the world have argued that all education ought to be peace education. This is important, whether teaching a Standard 1 pupil how to read, or a final year university student how to analyse quantitative research data. The question at the heart of the education system ought to be how particular subject matter content promotes the values that define our society, and promote love and understanding, friendship and interdependence, empathy and community. That is where uMunthu-peace starts.

    BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

    * Steve Sharra blogs at Afrika Aphukira, the Zeleza Post and the Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy. He is writing in his own capacity.
    * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


    Readers' Comments

    Let your voice be heard. Comment on this article.




    ↑ back to top

    ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition http://www.pambazuka.org/en/

    ISSN 1753-6847 Pambazuka News en Français http://www.pambazuka.org/fr/

    ISSN 1757-6504 Pambazuka News em Português http://www.pambazuka.org/pt/

    © 2009 Fahamu - http://www.fahamu.org/