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ABSTRACT. This paper examines the extent to which a reimagined and a repositioned conception of Ubuntu can influence the reconstruction of a relevant knowledge culture in African universities. This argument arises from raging debates on how universities in Africa can contribute meaningfully to the development of knowledge on the continent. A plethora of debates forming center stage promote a universalistic conception of knowledge in which truth and knowledge are only considered as such when their conditions speak to the logic of Western, mostly liberal, forms of understanding. These arguments indirectly claim that anything otherwise is a diversion from what is universally true, a ground upon which further forms of knowledge could be constructed. It is in view of these perceptions and argumentation that I begin to reposition what it actually means to have and work with indigenous knowledge systems. Furthermore, this paper also takes aim at conceptions of ‘Ubuntu’ in search of a preferable understanding and usage of this idea as central to understanding the nature and usage of African indigenous knowledge systems. In doing this, the paper argues for a unique understanding of African indigenous knowledge systems as consonant with the African metaphysical understanding of being. In presenting these arguments, the paper uses mainly interpretive and post-structural thinking paradigms as medium for the construction of better understandings in the creation of unique knowledge cultures. Such an analysis and proposition of alternatives are intended to reposition what it means to be African, as well as to propose new paradigms creating unique knowledge cultures that will serve and promote African higher education systems meaningfully without alienating them from mainstream educational processes, or from their call to develop socially relevant knowledge for the development of Africa. pp. 90–103

Keywords: African knowledge systems; knowledge cultures; Ubuntu; African higher education

JOSEPH JINJA DIVALA
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University of Johannesburg

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