Learning and Reflecting on the African ‘Spirit of Ubuntu’

Developer’s Name:

Anneke McCabe, Ph.D. Candidate, M.Ed., B.Ed., B.Mus.


Grades 7 & 8

Lesson Description:

This lesson is anchored in the “spirit of Ubuntu” (Tutu, 2012, 0. 28) and calls on students to activate by sharing their point of view, as they watch a variety of videos that discuss and teach Ubuntu (Tutu, 2013). By working together through “critical community conversations” (Mogadime, 2021, p. 10) in learning about Ubuntu, students are supported as they reflect on how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is connected to an African way of knowing. “Ubuntu is an African epistemology (way of thinking) and ontology (way of being) in the world that is based on knowledge about human relations and relationships” (Mogadime, 2021, p. 10). The learning experiences will guide students to connect through a process that calls on tight support from the teacher and the peer group during conferences as well allowing for students to communicate their individual voice, as a defender of Human Rights. According to Mogadime (2021, p. 10), an “Ubuntu teaching and learning process is holistic in that it integrates spirituality, interdependence and unity.” Through a gradual release of the knowledge shared, students will slowly unpack a realization that change is possible when learning about culturally relevant narratives centred around Ubuntu.

Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will activate and connect initial reactions when learning about Ubuntu through watching videos, and sketch responses that identify facts as compared to emotions: Efferent reading and aesthetic reading.
  • Students will be encouraged to see the “interconnected and interdependent nature of self, belonging and community. “Ubuntu is an African epistemology (way of thinking) and ontology (way of being) in the world that is based on knowledge about human relations and relationships” (Mogadime, 2021, p. 10).
  • Collaboratively students will share their learning and create a place of reflection where all their thinking is consolidated and communicated together.

Relevant Ontario Curriculum:

Critical Literacy: Reading, Writing, Media, and Oral Communication

  • Students will extend understanding, analyze texts, respond, and evaluate texts and develop individual points of view.
  • Students will reflect on reading skills and strategies used while reading and listening and decide what learning is communicated as a whole group.
  • Students will organize ideas using media sources, respond and evaluate texts and discuss audience responses, making inferences and interpreting messages. 

Relevant Ontario Curriculum Documents

Human Rights Instruments:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights. United Nations, 1948

  • Article I – All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
  • Article 2 – Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.


Please review Teaching Nelson Mandela Teacher Tools:

  1. Definition of Terms & Responding to Readings about Apartheid – Racism, Oppression, Trauma and Torture (Mogadime, 2021)
  2. Teaching Nelson Mandela: African Epistemology Stages of Learning – ARCC
  3. Teaching Nelson Mandela’s Biography: A Lens for Studying Life Stories
    *Consult with your School Board for permission to use websites

Lesson Plan Details by Stages of African Epistemology:






  • Educomm, S. (2012, March 6). Ubuntu told by Nelson Mandela. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HED4h00xPPA&t=68s
  • Mogadime, D. (2021). “Responding to Readings about Apartheid – Racism, Oppression, Trauma and Torture” (p.10 – 11). In Mogadime, D. (TNM Advisory Group Chair and Project Lead) with Senior Advisory Members, Anneke McCabe, Sally Hooper and Sherilyn Lehn. Teaching Nelson Mandela: Learning Experiences and Lessons to Support Grade 7-12 Classrooms. Canadian Museum for Human Rights, EPublication.
  • Nations, U. (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights by United Nations. United Nations General Assembly.
  • Ontario Ministry of Education. (2006). Ontario Curriculum Grades 1 – 8 Language. [revised]. Retrieved from https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/language18currb.pdf
  • Templeton Prize. (2013, April 4). Who we are: Human uniqueness and the African Spirit of Ubuntu. Desmond Tutu, Templeton Prize, 2013. [Video]. YouTube.
  • The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation. (2012, December 15). Ubuntu: A Brief Description. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wg49mvZ2V5U


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Mandela Global Human Rights: Peace, Reconciliation and Responsibility Copyright © by Dolana Mogadime (Ed.) Project Lead is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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