Mark Mathabane: Lessons of Ubuntu

Mark Mathabane is the author of the book of Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa. Amazon says:

"Kaffir Boy won a Christopher Award for being inspiring and is on the American Library Association's List of Outstanding Books for the College-Bound and Lifelong Learners. It is the first widely published memoir written in English by a black South African. When it first appeared in 1986, the book stunned readers in much the same way the Frederick Douglass' 1845 slave narrative had, forcing many to rethink American support of South Africa's white political regime.

Kaffir Boy was written in the United States, where for the first time in his life Mathabane felt free to express his though ts and feelings without fear of imprisonment....What gives Kaffir Boy its unique place in world literature is its central message that we are all human beings, and that the suffering of one individual leads to the suffering of humanity as a whole. Without bitterness or anger, Mathabane presents the facts of his life in a way that celebrates the power of family bonds and the value of a strong community. A sought-after lecturer, Mathabane was nominated for Speaker of the Year by the National Association for Campus Activities

Mathabane's 2018 book is The Lessons of Ubuntu: How an African Philosophy Can Inspire Racial Healing in America.

Click the graphic on the right below is hear a short excerpt from the book.

Amazon says:

Mathabane touched the hearts of millions of people around the world with his powerful memoir, Kaffir Boy, about growing up under apartheid in South Africa and was praised by Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton.

In his new book, The Lessons of Ubuntu: How an African Philosophy Can Inspire Racial Healing in America, Mathabane draws on his experiences with racism and racial healing in both Africa and America, where he has lived for the past thirty-seven years, to provide a timely and provocative approach to the search for solutions to America’s biggest and most intractable social problem: the divide between the races.

Mathabane tells what each of us can do to become agents for racial healing and justice by learning how to practice the ten principles of Ubuntu, an African philosophy based on the concept of our shared humanity.


The book’s chapters on obstacles correlate to chapters on Ubuntu principles:

  • The Teaching of Hatred vs. Empathy

  • Racial Classification vs. Compromise

  • Profiling vs. Learning

  • Mutual Distrust vs. Nonviolence

  • Black Bigotry vs. Change

  • Dehumanization vs. Forgiveness

  • The Church and White Supremacy vs. Restorative Justice

  • Lack of Empathy vs. Love

  • The Myth That Blacks and Whites Are Monolithic vs. Spirituality

  • Self-Segregation: American Apartheid vs. Hope

By practicing Ubuntu in our daily lives, we can learn that hatred is not innate, that even racists can change, and that diversity is America’s greatest strength and the key to ensuring our future. Concerned by the violent protests on university campuses and city streets, and the killing of black men by the police, Mathabane challenges  both blacks and whites to use the lessons of Ubuntu to overcome the stereotypes and mistaken beliefs that we have about each other so that we can connect as allies in the quest for racial justice.