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An African Commitment to Ecological Conservation: The Shona Concepts of Ukama and Ubuntu

Munyaradzi Felix Murove

Published: 2004/12/01

Abstract

Largely as a result of population pressure, many parts of the African continent are experiencing a level of environmental degradation and depletion of wild life, which, in terms of its significance for the welfare of future generations, is comparable to the pollution presently being created by industrial activity in other continents. Yet traditional African ethics in general recognized the intimate bond between men and their environment, the debt that the members of any generation owed to their forebears, and their consequent responsibility to posterity. It is further argued that this ethic was an adjunct of ancestor worship, and also that the roots of an ethic extending this responsibility beyond the limits of blood relationship can be found in Shona proverbs, which the author cites.