On Ubuntu and Retributive Punishment: An Ethical Investigation


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Centre for Leadership Ethics in Africa


This project demonstrates that the notion of retributive punishment, which is valorized in Western communities for its emphasis on individual freedoms and rights, has no place or relevance in African society, particularly among the KoreKore-Nyombwe people of Northern Zimbabwe whose values are communitarian. The argument is located in the discourse of the dealth penalty in Zimbabwe. The philosophy of ubuntu favors restorative punishment with ngozi as its motivator. Using content analysis and in-depth interviews, and drawing from both Western and African literature, the study argues that the death penalty should be abolished in Zimbabwe because its main concern is retribution, which is not an important value among the Korekore-Nyombwe people.