MyNews24 is a user-generated section of The stories here come from users.

Comments: 13
Article views: 397
Latest Badges:

View all Douwe's badges.

The African way

05 November 2012, 12:26

“Let us solve African problems the African way, not the white man's way,” president Zuma was quoted as saying at the opening of National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament. "They tell you they are going to change facts. They will never tell you that these cold facts have warm bodies," he said.

Understandably, many concerns have been expressed. In our modern culture, unlike in traditional African cultures before they were influenced by the West, we have generally lost the art of listening. We react immediately from our own prejudices, rather than truly trying to understand what the other person is trying to say. I also reacted that way when I read president Zuma’s words, yet almost simultaneously I also realised that he may have been trying to say something very important. The key for me were the words, “They will never tell you that these cold facts have warm bodies.”

What I heard was something to the effect of, “The western approach tends to deny our humanity; let us reclaim it.” When I heard that, I thought: so true. Former president Thabo Mbeki often made a similar plea by pleading for a return of uBuntu. Steve Biko made a powerful plea for black South Africans to reclaim their sense of worth.

I am convinced that this deep yearning for the lost heart of Africa underlies much of what is happening at the political front in South Africa today. Perhaps we whites – and blacks – would do well to react less and try to understand more?

Malidoma Somé, author of the phenomenal book The Healing Wisdom of Africa, was kind enough to write a foreword to my book From intellect to Intelligence: A Radical Natural Human Alternative. The following comes from this foreword:

“The encroachment of modernity into the most remote parts of the earth has resulted in a most intriguing dilemma.  On the one hand, the ‘underdeveloped’ cultures have become hypnotized by the glitter and promise of modernity’s technology, grasping whatever might ease, for the moment, the hunger and suffering often caused by the very technology that has created such scarcity through greed, politics, and basic disregard for human life and disrespect for the natural world.  At the same time modernity, never feeling satisfied with its relentless conquest of the world’s resources and marginalization of many of its peoples, feels the pangs of the soul’s deep hunger for something so basic, so elemental, that it is no longer recognizable to the psyche of the modern person.  Each wants, on some deep level, what the other has, and neither knows how to cull the best from its own gifts to offer for the reconciliation of all life on this planet.”

When I did some tourism development in Lesotho some time ago I tried to convince both government official s and locals that the primary tourism attraction of Lesotho is the fact that it still has people living in relatively traditional ways. Many Europeans are desperate to experience genuine traditional living (as opposed the often plastic imitations offered to tourists). Westerners have a deep longing to experience the soul of Africa.

I doubt that I had much success. Government officials often felt that, having just left ‘the bush’, they had no need to promote it. They wanted casinos and hotels, of which there are plenty in South Africa. So indoctrinated in the belief in the inferiority of African culture were the locals too, that they could simply not believe that their traditional ways could offer anything of value to foreigners.

What I am talking about, however, is the true heart of Africa as so beautifully expressed in Malidoma Some’s book The Healing Wisdom of Africa.

I believe it is true that some African cultures were much more humane in the past, that they often (but not always) lived in harmony with nature and themselves, and that western colonialism has destroyed most of that. However, one reason for the success of the West has been the readiness with which Africans have succumbed to the “glitter and promise of modernity’s technology”. Many Africans love to imitate America. At great cost we introduced a European education system which has been described as a “Rolls Royce in a squatter camp”. It failed dismally. And how African are luxury German cars, suits, computers, cell phones, firearms and the like?

The result has been the crumbling of the inherent fabric of black society, like that of so many other indigenous cultures. The powerful attitude of uBuntu that maintained the integrity of traditional African cultures virtually does not exist anymore. To want to return to a traditional African judicial system in the context of heavily westernised rural communities where uBuntu has been virtually eliminated and the people have lost contact with their roots will not undo the ‘facts’ of the white lawyers, nor restore the ‘warm bodies’ of African culture. To the contrary: without the context of uBuntu, it is likely to realise many of the worst fears expressed by the opponents to Zuma’s idea.

A return to the wisdom of Africa, as Malidoma Somé calls it, on the other hand, a wisdom that recognises the humanity in all of us, can greatly benefit both South Africa and the rest of the world. Such a return would indeed be highly recommendable. Let us not mistake the form for the content.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Not voting is stupid!

By not voting you are saying to the current political party in power “Well done, you are doing a great job.” Read more...

2 comments 46 views
Submitted by
Go Gauteng,Go!

Allister Sparks published an article in the Cape Times (09.04.2014) covering the proposals that the DA rising star in Gauteng Mmusi Maimane, made before a packed audience of 8000 people. Read more...

3 comments 316 views
Submitted by
Johan Kruger
To vote or not to vote - that is ...

The right to vote is one of the most basic and fundamental rights in a democracy, but to vote or not to vote (with apology to Shakespeare), seems to be the question. Read more...

1 comments 98 views
Submitted by
The Last Contrarian
Mystery: Spontaneous Human Combus...

There are nights, indeed entire days, where I willingly become a candidate for spontaneous human combustion.  Read more...

5 comments 701 views
Submitted by
The Greatest?

There are always debates about who the greatest batsman is, the greatest golfer, the greatest footballer and so on and I think, with one exception, that of Don Bradman, the jury will remain perpetually hung. Read more...

13 comments 236 views
Submitted by
Why even the Constitutional Court...

On Monday the Con Court knocked back the application by the Africa Unite Party to challenge the IEC on the right to stand for public office, section 19. Read more...

15 comments 1101 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25



E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

Digital Media & Marketing Association
© 2014 All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.