South Africa: Values                                                        

Key South African Value: UBUNTO

  • Ubuntu is a philosophy based on ethics and humanitarianism. The focus is on people's allegiances and relations with each other. The word has its origin in the Bantu languages of southern Africa. Ubuntu is seen as a classical African concept.

Nelson Mandela explained Ubuntu as:

A traveler through a country would stop at a village and he didn't have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a longer definition in a 1999 book:

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

Key South African Value: BATHO PELE

  • Batho Pele, a Sotho translation for 'People First', is an initiative to get public servants to be service orientated, to strive for excellence in service delivery and to commit to continuous service delivery improvement.
  • It is a simple and transparent mechanism, which allows citizens to hold public servants accountable for the level of services they deliver.
  • Batho Pele is not an "add-on" activity. It is a way of delivering services by putting citizens at the center of public service planning and operations.
  • It is a major departure from a system which previously excluded the majority of South Africans from government to the one that seeks to include all citizens for the achievement of a better-life-for-all through democracy. 

Other Important South African Values:

  • Patriotism
  • Loyalty
  • Dedication
  • Equity
  • Integrity