The FACE project is fundamentally rooted in a value framework that finds it’s origin in Ubuntu, a traditional African system of values that reflects the qualities that has been named and accepted within the Western mindset as traditionally female.
Although we describe these values as female, they are open and accessible to anybody, regardless of gender. We establish our values, not only through relationship, but also through the types of societal structures we create and envision. Societal structures, be they economic, social or political, are the places where power is concentrated. If these structures exclude women, if these structures exclude female values, it renders the idea of female values invisible and devoid of power. Thus, when we refer to the reinstatement of female power, we are talking, not only about gender and the empowerment of women, but also about the effect that a balancing of the scales between male and female ways of being, can have on all of us.
“I am what I am because of you”. During the truth and reconciliation hearings that took place in South-Africa, Synthia Ngwu, mother of Christopher Piet, one of the Guguleto 7 that was murdered by the government during the Apartheid struggle, illustrated this concept when she said: “This thing that they call reconciliation, if I understand it correctly, if it means that the accused, the man that killed Christopher Piet, if it means that this man’s humanity will be restored, this man, so that we, so that all of us can get our humanity back, then I agree, then I support all of this.”
RESPECT FOR INDIVIDUALITY
A person is a person through the otherness of other human beings. Thus we also define our unique individuality through that which makes us different from each other. In order to define ourselves like this, we need to know the other so that we can get to know our unique self.
Knowing that you co-exist with others thus you need to acknowledge, FACE and want to know where others are. It takes a debate, a dialogue to understand one another - to celebrate and acknowledge our unique humanness.
The phrases simunye (we are one) and “an injury to one is an injury to all” illustrate this value. It also acknowledges both the rights and responsibilities of every citizen in promoting individual and societal well-being.
The ubuntu philosophy on the governing process is one of generating agreement or building consensus. African democracy is not simply majority rule. Traditional African democracy operates in the form of discussions. While there are leaders, everyone gets a chance to speak, building consensus. Consensus reflects the principle of listening and being receptive to the other.
Posted 9 June 2005, www.face.org.za, author: Nolene Nel.