Original Research - Special Collection: SASRF 2019

The privatised self? A theological critique of the commodification of human identity in modern technological age in an African context professing Ubuntu

Collium Banda
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 1 | a5288 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i1.5288 | © 2019 Collium Banda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 October 2018 | Published: 24 April 2019


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Abstract

Modern technology has significantly improved human life. However, its serious negative element in Africa is fostering human self-sufficiency and independence that ultimately subvert human solidarity and interdependence that are highly valued by ubuntu philosophy. The main question of this article is: From the perspective of the African communal tenet of ubuntu that places human identity within communal solidarity and interdependence, how can we theologically respond to the commodification of human identity in the modern technological age? Consequently, a description is made of how modern technological age promotes human self-sufficiency that leads to the commodification of human identity. Further, the link between the commodification of human identity and privatisation of self is described. The challenge of ubuntu philosophy expressed by the Nguni proverb umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu is unpacked, and its challenge to the human self-sufficiency promoted by the technological age is explored. The image of God is proposed as an important theological tool of responding to the commodification of human identity. Finally, some steps that the churches can use to mitigate the commodification of human identity are presented. Technology is here to stay; rather than resist it, Christians must embrace it from a perspective informed by the image of God.

Keywords

Human identity; Ubuntu; Commodification of human identity; Image of God; Privatisation of self

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