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Guest Thinkers

Post-Apartheid Spirituality

Non-denominational spirituality plays an important role in the day-to-day functioning of post-apartheid South Africa, says a former director of its Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The African worldview—for lack of a better word—is already very spiritual, in that it discerns the presence of the divine in material things, sacred space, ritual, and the ancestors. This spirituality contributed in a very significant way to the South African willingness to accept a negotiated settlement and a truth and reconciliation commission, rather than merely resorting to prosecutions. At its core is the notion of ubuntu—that I am a person through others. I am a person through you, and you are a person through me. If there is enmity between us, you are a lesser person and I am a lesser person. The African tradition rests on that collectivity, that sense of belonging, that sense of community.


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