HUMAN VALUES AND RIGHTS – AN AFRICAN ASSESSMENT IN THE SEARCH FOR A CONSENSUS

Gabriel M Setiloane

Abstract


This paper is at issue with a finding in the HSRC Report on Intergroup Relations that “important points of agreement between a significant number of churches on … basic values” could lead to consensus on fundamental human rights in South Africa.

Assuming that, by using the word Religion, the Committee meant Christianity, the author argues – with reference, inter alia, to the Crusades and the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth century – that Christianity is itself so divided, that it could never be a unifying factor. It has become a religion of dogma and creed, rather than a way of life.

To find a common set of values, the primal world view of traditional African religion has an important contribution to offer. It teaches that the community is the centre of being, the first responsibility of every begin, and also larger than the sum total of the people, fauna and flora that make it up.

The author concludes that three cardinal principles emerging form this primal world view could form a base upon which some reconciliation could be reached:

* belonging: humans, animals, plants – they all belong together, not in isolation;

* community is primary: because everything belongs, being can only be in community;

* participation: because all things process vital force, they all become life forces, and participate in one another.

Keywords


Intergroup Relations; Consensus; Human rights; South Africa; Christianity; African religion; Community; Belonging; Participation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/18-0-1941

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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