Original Research

Ubuntu and philoxenia: Ubuntu and Christian worldviews as responses to xenophobia

Mojalefa L.J. Koenane
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 1 | a4668 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i1.4668 | © 2018 Mojalefa L.J. Koenane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 May 2017 | Published: 10 April 2018

About the author(s)

Mojalefa L.J. Koenane, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa


Xenophobic attitudes and violence have become regular phenomena in South Africa and other parts of the world. Xenophobia is of great concern not only to South Africans, but also to most developed countries or countries that are considered economically and politically viable by their neighbours, and which offer a safe haven for people who, for whatever reason, are forced to seek refuge elsewhere. Although xenophobia is not unique to South Africa, its most worrying aspect in South Africa is the government’s inability to deal with this evil. The article seeks to challenge South Africa as a dominantly Ubuntu and Judeo-Christian influenced country to fight xenophobia through appealing to Ubuntu values and philoxenia. By Judeo-Christian, I mean religious beliefs and values that are common to both these religions, namely Judaism and Christianity. The article further suggests the ontology that perceives the ‘other’ as an extension of the self. It is argued that South African citizens are collectively responsible for acts of violence against foreign nationals and should thus look for a morally sustainable solution to this evil. The article relies heavily on the work of Kristeva, entitled Strangers to Ourselves, and on the work of Nussbaum, entitled Ubuntu: Reflections of a South African on Our Common Humanity, in Reflections, the Society for Organizational Learning and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Afrophobia; Christianity; hospitality; philoxenia; Ubuntu; xenophobia


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