Section 3: Teacher’s Identity as Co-learner


The teacher’s identity as co-learner, alongside students is highly valued in Mandela Global Human Rights: Peace, Reconciliation and Responsibility: A Teacher Guide and Lessons for Educators. It requires being open to one’s vulnerability whilst exploring the desire to know more about South Africa and its history of colonialism, apartheid and struggle for democracy. Additionally, the teacher’s own self-aware humility and connectedness to humanity in a global sense is paramount. Curriculum provided in the lessons acknowledge an African Centered Epistemology, and a dedicated focus on exploring a larger sense of self in relation to others through principles of ubuntu[2]. For example, as teachers delve into selections from, “Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales”, principles of ubuntu are also gleamed. Indigenous folktales mirror life and are used to convey the ideals about an individual’s identity in relation to one another and society.  In terms of a sense of responsibility and the individual, the teacher, as a member of society is encouraged to embody an appreciation for an African-centered epistemic that involves: Listening; summarizing; seeking to mold opinion; and steering action (Stengel, p. 81).[3]

Project Lead, Dr. Mogadime, presented The Teaching Nelson Mandela (TNM) Curriculum Project at the CMHR Indigenous Education Working Group (IEDW) Meeting on February 27, 2019. IEDW members reviewed the links between Indigenous knowledge system relevant to the ‘Ubuntu Epistemology’ and that of Indigenous knowledge system of Turtle Island. Feedback was provided that allowed for greater understanding of the connections in the organization of societies through:

  • Communalism
  • Interdependence
  • Intergenerational knowledge
  • Respect for elders as knowledge keepers

These themes can be found in various lessons in “Mandela Global Human Rights: Peace, Reconciliation and Responsibility: A Teacher Guide and Lessons for Educators.” Similarly, in considering the lessons provided by Lyn Trudeau, Ojibway, Eagle Clan alongside an in-depth study of Nelson Mandela’s biography (Mogadime, 2018)[4] sheds a light on Indigenous people’s experiences worldwide regarding colonial, white settler incursion and the resulting confiscation of land and the hostage of people’s lives. Such stark realities run parallel, whether it’s South Africa or Turtle Island. Therefore, human rights abuses are examined in both contexts:

  • Forced relocation to the reserves
  • Land confiscation
  • Pass Laws (South Africa) Pass system (Canada)
  • Bantu Education (South Africa)/ Residential Schools (Canada)
  • Inadequate housing
  • Inadequate water supply
  • Denial of voting rights (voting only occurred with the first election in South Africa in 1994) / Only occurred for Indigenous people in 1960 (without losing their Indian Status)

Ubuntu and the Role of the Teacher

While the Ubuntu philosophy is at the centre of an understanding about all teaching and learning processes, the phases in the ARCC work in consort with the Ubuntu philosophy. In that the value for Ubuntu is relational and weaves in and out of each ARCC phase. It is meant to be indivisible with the ARCC phases. The teacher harnesses a supportive learning environment in and through the lens of Ubuntu. Such a learning environment includes a community of dialogue, consensus making, mutuality, support for one another, and a desire for each person to be heard. The content is investigated and explored in a respectful caring manner, that encourages continues inquiry and learning.

  1. Section 3 was developed by Dr. Dolana Mogadime, Ph.D., Professor, Brock University.
  2. For an extended discussion about ubuntu within a South African context, please see the following: Mogadime, D., PJ (Kobus) Mentz, Armstrong, D. E., & Holtam, B. (2010). Constructing self as leader: Case studies of women who are change agents in South Africa. Urban Education 45(6), 797-821.
  3. Stengel, R. (2010). Mandela’s way lessons on life, love and courage. New York: Crown Publishers.
  4. Mogadime, D. (July 2018). Mandela’s Biography a Lens for Studying Life Stories. From the Teaching Nelson Mandela Workshops, Presented at the Canadian Museum for Hunan Rights (CMHR). Winnipeg, Manitoba.


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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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