Umunthu Philosophical Concept of Humanity

1.LGBTI rights- commonly viewed as ‘un-African’ and counter to African culture. Activists arguing for LGBTI rights seen as Westernised/ pandering to Western donors 2.Little research on the topic- much of the existing research shows high levels of intolerance to LGBTI people on the basis of culture and religion, particularly compared to tolerance to other discriminated groups (site AfriBarometer research) 3.Umunthu workshops project- turning this on its head by using Umunthu, a pan African philosophical concept of humanity,  combined with reflection on personal experiences of stigma and discrimination, to engage people in conversations about LGBTI people and our locally embedded ideologies that have governed Africans for generations. 4.In this paper, we will present findings from the research we have been doing alongside our Umunthu workshops. So far, this research has indicated promising positive shifts in attitudes towards LGBTI people amongst workshop participants.  5.African culture and philosophy is diverse, evolving and subject to interpretation. It is possible to use African belief systems- specifically those focusing on interdependence and tolerance- to invoke reflection and encourage greater tolerance of LGBTI people. Confrontational approaches can lead to a backlash which entrenches people more firmly in their beliefs. We consider that this more reflective approach has great potential in challenging discrimination and violence against LGBTI people.   6.Creative participatory approaches that take the participants down to their own familiar values and ideologies, that facilitate exploration of underlying basis of discrimination, could be the most effective way of impacting on popular thinking and achieve positive shift of attitude towards LGBTI people.


Rodger Phiri .Art and Global Health Center Africal .
Hellen Todd . Art and Global Health Center Africa .

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