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In this article, I will carry out an epistemic and interpretative project, drawing out the implications of African values for the morality of war. More precisely, I wish to interpret the African value system and tease out some conclusions as to what this value system entails in terms of the following: the morality of when to enter war, how to act in war, and what to do after war. I carry out this inquiry by articulating the African value of Ubuntu in light of the actions and speeches of two prominent African leaders, Nelson Mandela and Amilcar Cabral.


African philosophy, African just war theory, Mandela, Cabral, Ubuntu

The questions of what makes a just war, what is ethical behavior in a war, and what to do following a war have been mostly discussed taking into consideration Western values.1 Other traditions, such as those carried out in Africa, have been largely neglected and, on many occasions, considered inferior.2 In this article, my objective is to offer an African account of just war theory. In particular, I wish to describe and interpret the intellectual production and war actions of key African thinkers regarding the ethics of starting war, how to act during war, and how to act after war. My strategy for this lies in interpreting the actions and words of two representative African leaders—Nelson Mandela and [End Page 657] Amilcar Cabral—and articulating them through the African values of unity and community, most well exemplified by the term Ubuntu. Put differently, I wish to articulate the value of Ubuntu through the war actions and words of Mandela and Cabral. This articulation has the objective of demonstrating and illustrating African just war theory in light of Mandela's and Cabral's actions; these political leaders' actions and words are thus used as manifestations of the Ubuntu guide to war and, thereby, are evidence that the interpretation made of African values is at least possible. This article can, therefore, be said to offer a Mandelist and Cabralist view of African values toward war.

African just war theory is innovative because it offers new concepts for how to act before war, during war, and after war. Particularly new for African just war theory, as mentioned below, are ideas whereby states are not the only legitimate agents of violence and that after war one should focus on reconciliation rather than punishment.

By carrying out this inquiry into African just war theory I do not wish to prescribe this theory as a value. A limitation of my discussion is that I do not make normative claims; rather, my work is limited to an interpretation of African values regarding jus ad bellum, jus in bellow, and jus post bellum, taking into consideration Mandela and Cabral.

The choice of these two leaders is not random. Rather, Cabral and Mandela are representative of African values. The thinking of Cabral has been influential in various parts of Africa, especially in liberation movements. Indeed, liberation movements across former Portuguese colonies, such as the Mozambique Liberation Front and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, as well as leading people in Africa, such as Kwame Nkrumah, Agostinho Neto, and Julius Nyerere, have affirmed the influence of several of Cabral's ideas, endorsing many.3 Likewise, Mandela is routinely considered the best representative of African values,4 while, as Allison Drew has affirmed,5 Mandela's thought on war reflects the ideas of many other Africans, such as the National Liberation Front.

Taking this on board, it can be affirmed that although it is not my intention to essentialize African thought, the group of authors included are representative of the tendencies of African ideas on war. In other words, the objective is to formulate a just war theory that is informed by salient beliefs and practices of many African peoples. Consequently, my claim is not that the ideas defended here are present everywhere in Africa or, indeed, are present solely in Africa but only that they constitute a tendency for many Africans. [End Page 658]

This article is divided into five sections. Section 1 is used to clarify some methodological points. Section 2 is dedicated to explaining the African value Ubuntu. Sections 3, 4, and 5 are an interpretation of what African values, based on the ideas of Mandela and Cabral, entail for just war theory.

1. Methodological Caveats

In this section, I would like to address six methodological points that need clarification. First, I do not wish to argue that Cabral and Mandela agree on every aspect of just war theory. Indeed, there are aspects of just war theory that only one of them explicitly talks or writes about, with the other appearing mute. Rather, my objective is to interpret Ubuntu in articulation with Cabralist and Mandelist ideas and actions. This leads to a second important point. It may be the case that there are other African ideas regarding other aspects of war that go unmentioned in this article. For example, I do not mention African values regarding proportionality in war. The reason is that I only articulate Ubuntu via what Cabral and Mandela have written or done; the topics that remain unaddressed by them are not addressed in this article.

Third, academics have not always produced African philosophy in the conventional written form that is generated in Western universities.6 Rather, African philosophy is majorly based on the oral tradition, so much of it as a written tradition has been missed by academics. Instead, a great part of it has been written by inspiring leaders with insightful philosophical ideas: for example, Amilcar Cabral, Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba, and Kwame Nkruma.7 It was only in the postwar era, following the colonial experience, that African philosophy started being produced in the same manner as other philosophy at Western universities.8

Fourth, I am aware that my choice of ideas and philosophers is rather selective. Africa is heterogeneous in its thought, especially because of the diversity existent in African countries.9 Thus, it is important to clarify that when I use the expression "African just war theory" I am referring to tendencies of thought rather than essences. That is, I do not claim that my view is the only possible interpretation of African philosophical thought on just war theory.

Fifth, it could be argued that this project of finding tendencies in African thought goes against many of Cabral's ideas; this is because he affirmed [End Page 659] that Africa is primarily heterogeneous and that any attempt to homogenize Africans is a colonial project. However, I believe that interpreting Cabral's words in this way misconceives the context in which Cabral affirmed this notion. This affirmation was made regarding the negative stereotypes that colonial powers created about Africa, with the objective of justifying colonization on the grounds of "civilizing" Africans. He did not mean that there were not similarities among Africans. In fact, his prescription to end colonialism is a re-Africanization of people and a return to African culture, precisely suggesting the specific African values he praises.10

Sixth, arguably the word Ubuntu was never used by Cabral, and it may seem unusual and inaccurate to associate him with this idea. However, evidence does suggest that even though Ubuntu was not used, because of its nonexistence in the Portuguese language, Cabral used other words in Portuguese cherishing the values that strongly relate to those encapsulated by Ubuntu: for example, union, communion, solidarity, and harmony.11

2. The African Principle of Ubuntu

Africa is significantly diverse in its values and cultures. However, it is noticeable that there are some widespread tendencies toward what is considered ethical.12 One common view present in African thought on being ethical is about engaging in communal relationships. For example, the Nigerian theologian Pantaleon Iroegbu contends that "the purpose of our life is community-service and community-belongingness."13 Equally, George Silberbauer affirms that "there was another value being pursued, namely the establishing and maintaining of harmonious relationships. Again and again in discussion and in general conversation this stood out as a desired and enjoyed end in itself, often as the ultimate rationale for action."14 Likewise, Steve Biko describes African values in the following way: "Hence in all we [Africans] do we always place Man first and hence all our action is usually joint community oriented action rather than the individualism which is the hallmark of the capitalist approach."15 Hence, construing African morality in terms of communal relationships captures tendencies (although not essences) of behavior and thought in Africa.16 From an African point of view, a tendency toward communal relationships means that one is promoting social harmony.17 Consider, for instance, Desmond Tutu's words on this matter: "Harmony, friendliness, community are great goods. Social harmony [End Page 660] is for us the summum bonum—the greatest good. Anything that subverts or undermines this sought-after good is to be avoided like the plague."18

According to Africans, the reason social harmony is to be praised is that it is the greatest good of all, and to act in ways that accord with the greatest good of social harmony necessarily entails that one's actions exhibit both identification and solidarity.19 To identify with each other means to share the way of life of each other.20 Sharing a way of life requires that ideally four conditions are met. The first condition is that one conceives of oneself as part of a group; the second condition is that the group considers that individual a member and members also see him or her as a member of the group; the third condition is that individuals who see themselves as members of the same group share common goals; the fourth and final condition is that members of the group coordinate their actions in ways that achieve shared common ends.21

To act in accordance with solidarity also means to invest one's emotions and behavior in others. That is, to exhibit solidarity one ought to act and feel in ways that prioritize caring about others.22 This combination of solidarity and identification is what is usually called social harmony/friendship in the Western world.23 Taking this on board, the idea of African morality is well expressed in Thaddeus Metz's principle that he rightly considers summarizes African moral thought: "An action is right just insofar as it is a way of living harmoniously or prizing communal relationships, ones in which people identify with each other and exhibit solidarity with one another; otherwise, an action is wrong."24

This African principle is quite informative as to which actions are permissible and which are not. An important aspect is that the principle encompasses both deontological and consequentialist views of actions. That is, actions ought to follow deontological constraints as well as take into consideration the likely consequences. Furthermore, the African principle roughly suggests that permissible actions are those that are friendly, whereas impermissible actions are those that are unfriendly/enemy-like.25 This is because the opposite of a morally good action is one that prizes the opposite of friendship, enmity. An example of a permissible action is engaging in intercultural dialogue because it brings people closer and highlights a sense of togetherness.26 An example of an impermissible action is rape. The reason this action is impermissible is that it fails to bring people into harmony with each other and does not promote a sense of togetherness; rather, such an action involves discord and disinstantiation. [End Page 661]

Additionally, this principle is informative because it can give guidance on how to act in a war context. At first sight, this principle may seem to imply a form of pacifism because of its emphasis on friendship. However, that is not the case. Although the ethic of Ubuntu prizes communal relationships, it also admits that this option makes little moral sense when others act in unfriendly ways. Hence, if others have acted in ways that promote enmity, prizing communal relationships may mean to act in discordant ways so that others' enmity is rebutted.27 That is, in order to promote friendship, one may need to act in unfriendly ways to suppress the unfriendly actions of another person and thus reestablish friendship. This idea is exemplified in Nelson Mandela's justification of using violence to destroy the apartheid system: "If there was not the violence of apartheid, there never would have been violence from our side."28

It is important to emphasize two ideas about acting in an unfriendly way in order to reestablish social harmony. First, this should be done with the least use of strength possible. Take what Mandela wrote on violent action toward the apartheid state: "Our intention was to begin with what was least violent to individuals but most damaging to the state. . . . It made sense to begin with the form of violence that inflicted the least harm against individuals: sabotage. . . . Strict instructions were given to members of MK that we would countenance no loss of life. But if sabotage did not produce the results we wanted, we were prepared to move onto the next stage."29 Second, violence is only permissible if the other is not willing to negotiate.30 In cases where the opponent is willing to negotiate peacefully, violence is not prescribed by Ubuntu.

This idea of Ubuntu as described in this section is central to African moral and political thought, and it provides guidance on how to act in war situations. In the next three sections, I will apply the Ubuntu doctrine to jus ad bellum, jus in bello, and jus post bellum. This will be carried out by articulating the value of Ubuntu through the political acts, writings, and speeches of two Africans who were influential in leading wars in Africa—Nelson Mandela and Amilcar Cabral.

3. An African View of Jus ad bellum

African just war theory has several prescriptions regarding jus ad bellum. That is, it is possible to identify a set of criteria that are to be consulted before engaging in war in order to determine whether a certain war is permissible [End Page 662] or not. In particular, African just war theory has prescriptions regarding last resort, the legitimate authority for initiating war, and the correspondent just cause.

According to an African perspective, war should be, as in Western just war theory,31 a matter of last resort: all other solutions having already been attempted and exhausted. Ubuntu prescribes that one act in friendly ways whenever possible; in African thought, not only is it wrong in itself to act in an unfriendly manner when one can act in a friendly way, but also acting unfriendly when there is a friendly route available is thought to provoke enmity, which is in itself morally wrong.32 Put differently, the Ubuntu idea whereby one ought to live according to the values of friendship and promote friendship implies two concepts. The first is that if there is a possibility of acting in a friendly manner before engaging in war, one ought to do so. The second is that if one acts in an unfriendly way when one has the opportunity of acting in a friendly one, then this is acting immorally. From an African view, acting in a friendly manner is the right course of action because it honors the values of friendship.

The idea of last resort can be found in both Cabral's and Mandela's actions in Guinea-Bissau and South Africa, respectively. In the case of Guinea-Bissau, prior to 1959, Cabral, who initiated his activist activity in the early 1950s,33 always supported peaceful action, with most of the activities of the Partido Africano para a Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, PAIGC) being peaceful protests.34 Likewise, after World War II, there was strong international pressure on Portugal to start the process of decolonization, like other European colonizers.35 Nevertheless, rather than starting the decolonization process, the Estado Novo (the name of the fascist state in Portugal until 1974) instead made cosmetic changes to its colonial administration in response to international pressure. These changes were mainly in the terminology used, with colonies being named provinces, for example.36 This process aimed at suggesting that Portugal was a special case in terms of colonization and, thereby, was justified in maintaining its colonies. According to this doctrine, Portugal became more benevolent and beneficial for the colonizers.37 However, this refashioning did not represent any changes for the colonized people, as they experienced the same rights and remained powerless in the face of the fascist Portuguese state. At the core, racial relations thus remained the same, which meant substantially disadvantaging black people.38 [End Page 663]

Moreover, Estado Novo did not provide any space where blacks could pursue independence through legal means. These legal means were completely exhausted because all protests, including peaceful ones, were legally forbidden and black people had no representation in the dictatorship's parliament.39 Thus, facing no improvement, given the inefficiency of internal and international pressure, in 1959, a turning point emerged. The PAIGC was carrying out a nonviolent protest at the Pijiguiti Docks when the Portuguese state police killed fifty peaceful strikers. It was only after this that Cabral and the PAIGC decided to engage in violence, which was subsequently initiated in 1963.40

The situation of South Africa and Nelson Mandela was rather similar to this. The African National Congress (ANC) was formed in 1912 as a reaction against the movement leading to South Africa's Native Land Act, an act that substantially curtailed black people's rights. The ANC remained peaceful and committed to pursuing legal means to fight oppression until 1949. During this time, its actions included peaceful protests and sending delegations to the government. However, the government did not change in its actions, instead maintaining a culture of oppression and extreme violence toward nonwhites. It was only in 1961 that the ANC, and its military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, decided to engage in acts of violence, which was rationalized because all other means had been exhausted. This was accompanied by the fact that in 1961 the apartheid government closed all the legal channels available for use by the ANC.41 Thus, as in the case of Guinea-Bissau, the use of violence only became an option when (1) there was no response from the government and (2) legal means by which to fight oppression were curtailed. This peaceful attitude was reinforced by Mandela's comments at the Rivonia Trial:

I have already mentioned that I was one of the persons who helped to form Umkhonto. I, and the others who started the organisation, did so for two reasons. Firstly, we believed that as a result of Government policy, violence by the African people had become inevitable, and that unless responsible leadership was given to canalise and control the feelings of our people, there would be outbreaks of terrorism which would produce an intensity of bitterness and hostility between the various races of the country which is not produced even by war.

Secondly, we felt that without sabotage there would be no way open to the African people to succeed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy. All lawful modes of expressing opposition to [End Page 664] this principle had been closed by legislation, and we were placed in a position in which we had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the Government. We chose to defy the law. We first broke the law in a way which avoided any recourse to violence; when this form was legislated against, and when the Government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did we decide to answer violence with violence.42

Taking this on board, a key idea in African just war theory, as in Western classical just war theory, is that one is justified to engage in acts of war when all other means have been explored and exhausted. In particular, from the case studies of the PAIGC and the ANC, led by Cabral and Mandela, respectively, two factors ought to be taken into consideration using the African perspective: (1) the lack of responsiveness of those who can respond to the demands being made and (2) the nonexistence of legal means by which to pursue such demands. If these two conditions are met, then, from an African perspective, all means will have been tried, meaning that one is now in a situation where there is no other, less harmful way of achieving a just cause. With this in mind, the African notion can be reformulated as follows: war is justified when there are no other friendly options available to further one's demands. No other options are available when there are neither legal means to pursue such demands nor any demonstration of willingness or responsiveness to negotiate from those holding the power to fulfill such demands.

Moving now to legitimate authority, the African perspective is different from traditional just war theory as articulated in the West. Routinely, in traditional just war theory, states have a special moral standing that nonstate actors lack and which gives them the authority to fight wars.43 In fact, international law only gives states the legal right of national defense, while combatant rights are primarily defined in terms of the rights of the states' soldiers. From a standard Western perspective, therefore, states have a right to start war that nonstate agents lack. Nevertheless, from an African perspective, legitimate authority is not based on whether someone is a state actor or not; rather, such legitimacy to start war lies in whether or not the people who wish to initiate it have just cause. More precisely, this means that people can legitimately start a war, independent of being a state or not, if the cause is to promote the highest value, and in African terms this means friendship. This is illustrated very well in the Banjul Charter, which emphasizes the right to self-determination and the autonomy necessary to become free from colonialism.44 [End Page 665]

Once more, Cabral's and Mandela's writings and war actions provide evidence that supports this interpretation of African values. In the case of Cabral, he argued various times during the Portuguese colonial war that the whole population ought to engage in fighting against the imperialist Portuguese state, independent of their class, because the degrading treatment blacks received under this state was intolerable. In particular, he affirmed that black peasants, the proletariat, and the bourgeoisie from Africa should be agents of history in the sense of actively participating in the struggle necessary to overthrow the oppressive Portuguese Empire. Mandela, likewise, defended that black people were morally legitimized to use violence because they wished to fight the oppression of the apartheid state and replace it with equal rights for all the peoples of Africa.

Having taken this into consideration, in contrast with traditional just war theories that invest governments with the power to declare war, this African perspective defends the idea that nonstate actors can legitimately start a war. States do not have a special status that legitimizes them to start wars; in fact, African thought contends that the state is often the main oppressor and violator of Ubuntu, as in the Portuguese colonial state and the South African apartheid state. From an African point of view, anyone who wishes to correct a violation of Ubuntu and reestablish Ubuntu as a legitimate initiator of war.

To summarize, the African view can provide guidance for when to initiate war. Based on the idea of Ubuntu positing that friendship/harmony holds the highest value, it provides guidance on what steps to take before starting war, as this should only be used as a last resort. This is because any action that engages war (an unfriendly act) when friendliness is available is morally wrong in itself and provokes disharmony. Likewise, the African view, guided by Ubuntu, is that if an actor has the intention of promoting Ubuntu, then that actor is a legitimate initiator of war, independent of being a state or not.

4. An African Perspective on Jus in bello

The African tradition also contains guidelines for fighting in a just way once war has begun (jus in bello). In particular, there is guidance regarding what kind of violence one should use, who can be labeled as legitimate targets, and how to treat prisoners. [End Page 666]

Regarding what kind of violence ought to be used, the African perspective offers a typology of four kinds of violence: sabotage, guerrilla warfare, terrorism, and open revolution.45 Sabotage is the kind of violence that does not involve human killing but, instead, destroying government property with the purpose of undermining the government's operation. Guerrilla warfare includes sabotage but also the killing of military enemies. Terrorism consists of the controlled destruction of property and the taking of lives of certain civilians and soldiers. Open revolution is uncontrolled violence that accepts all violent means to achieve its goals.

From an African perspective, none of these are ruled out as illegitimate, but war actors should start from the least violent, sabotage, and gradually move on to the next most violent act (so, guerrilla warfare, terrorism, and then open revolution) in case their demands are not met.46 This is very clear in Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom, where, as noted above, he affirms: "Our intention was to begin with what was least violent to individuals but most damaging to the state. . . . It made sense to begin with the form of violence that inflicted the least harm against individuals: sabotage. . . . [I]f sabotage did not produce the results we wanted, we were prepared to move onto the next stage."47 In fact, at the beginning of and throughout the ongoing fight against white power, the majority of war acts of both Umkhonto we Sizwe and the PAIGC were acts of sabotage. These groups mostly engaged in the destruction of power plants, as well as interfering with rail and telephone communications, with the intention of creating enough pressure on governments that they would change their policies.48 However, because these actions provoked no response from the respective governments, it became legitimate from an African point of view that engaging in more violent acts was necessary. The PAIGC, for example, engaged in violent action that included targeting civilians and taking lives.49

The reason a gradual increase of violence is recommended in African thought is because it is seen as the best way of reestablishing Ubuntu. In particular, there are two reasons for this. First, from an African perspective, trying to carry out war in less violent ways can facilitate friendly relationships in the postwar years. Put differently, friendship between enemies in war is better promoted, from an African viewpoint, if, during war, the agents of war try to avoid acting in extremely unfriendly ways. Mandela, for example, affirmed that the actions taken were predicated on how they would (not) undermine future race relations in South Africa. As he expressed it: "In the light of our political background the choice was a [End Page 667] logical one. Sabotage did not involve loss of life, and it offered the best hope for future race relations."50

The second reason the gradual increase of violence can approximate Ubuntu is that it prescribes that the right action is the one that is the most friendly and when violence is necessary, the least unfriendly way is to be preferred. Consequently, the least unfriendly way to achieve one's objectives is to start with the least violent means and gradually increase, if necessary, to more violent acts. In short, the best way to approximate Ubuntu in the context of war is to act in ways that are less unfriendly. Hence, one ought to start with acts of sabotage that do not involve the loss of human lives and only increase in violence as a matter of last resort.

This African theory also offers insights as to legitimate targets. During the sabotage stage, no human lives—civilians or soldiers—are legitimate targets. At this stage, only targeting government property is legitimate. In the guerrilla warfare stage, however, soldiers' lives are a legitimate target. After this stage, in the terrorism stage and during open revolution, both soldiers and civilians are legitimate targets because all other means have been attempted and no other options remain available. This contrasts with Western classical just war theory, which affirms that civilians are never legitimate targets, even though it accepts that it may be moral to accidentally kill civilians during times of war.51

The reason underlying the African rationale for this is the idea derived from the Ubuntu principle whereby one ought to act in the least unfriendly way when enmity is necessary—and only enough to rebut other people's enmity; here, one is only allowed to increase violence when this unfriendly manner proves ineffective. Thus, it is only when sabotage proves to be ineffective that taking soldiers' lives becomes a morally acceptable option; it is only when killing soldiers proves to be fruitless that attacking civilians' lives and property becomes a morally acceptable option for rebutting enemies' violations of Ubuntu; and it is only when terrorism does not work that the most violent form of war, open revolution, is allowed.

5. African Ideas on Ending War and Postwar

African political thought also offers ideas on when to end war and what to do after war. Ubuntu prescribes that war, and violence in general, should cease when it is no longer needed to rebut violence. So, if both sides are [End Page 668] willing to negotiate, then Ubuntu prescribes that the use of violence should cease. In fact, Mandela suspended armed struggle when negotiations with the apartheid government were under way.52 In the words of Mandela: "Our approach was to empower the organisation to be effective in its leadership. And if the adoption of non-violence gave it that effectiveness, that efficiency, we would pursue non-violence. But if the condition showed that nonviolence was not effective, we would use other means."53 Ubuntu principles prescribe that the postwar period should be used for the reestablishment of social harmony. After war, there is no reason why one ought to engage in violent acts, because (1) nonviolent acts are available and are the most ethical option to take if available and (2) doing so will not further the objectives of promoting social harmony. These ideas are reflected in how to address war criminals and what policies to apply after war.

Regarding the punishment of war criminals, this is perhaps where one of the sharpest differences between Western classical just war theory and African just war theory can be found. In Western classical just war theory, the focus is usually on what kind of punishment is the best response to war crimes, and this is reflected in actual states' actions.

Take, for example, the Nuremberg trials, where the main objective was to punish Nazi war criminals. This reflects the Western idea that punishment in the postwar period is of crucial importance. Contrastingly, in the African tradition, the main postwar objective is reconciliation, that is, finding the best way to promote friendly relations between oppressors and oppressed. Illustrative of this is the example of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the abolition of apartheid, where its main objective was "to enable South Africans to come to terms with their past on a morally accepted basis and to advance the cause of reconciliation."54 As such, its focus was then to uncover the truth about the human rights violations that occurred during apartheid and to gather evidence to recompense the victims of crimes, rather than prosecute individuals for past crimes.

Another action to take postwar is to carry out policies that promote the freedom and fulfillment of African people on their own land. This means, in particular, engaging in economic and social reforms, including equality of opportunity policies, health care provision, and education provision. For instance, during the Portuguese colonial war, the PAIGC offered schooling and health care in liberated areas, and following the end of apartheid, Mandela set out various economic policies to compensate groups that had been disadvantaged during apartheid. These are valuable for Ubuntu due to [End Page 669] the fact that they are not only ways of engaging in friendly relations but also the means that enable individuals to pursue such relations. For instance, going to school or university offers opportunities to engage in friendly relations, as well as to learn the skills, by socializing, learning, developing one's personality, and so on, by which to engage in those very same relationships.


Most just war theory is written taking Western values into consideration. In this article, I offer a Cabralist and Mandelist interpretation of African values in war. My claim is that there are intellectual resources available in Africa that offer insights that can help us decide when to go to war, how to act in war, when to end war, and what to do after war. This project was only an epistemic one, aimed at describing and interpreting African values regarding war ethics. Future research should carry out an analysis of whether these values can be prescriptive. Moreover, further research ought to explore how these ideas can be applied to the ethics of terrorism, especially regarding African values of jus ad bellum. [End Page 670]

Luis Cordeiro-Rodrigues
Department of Philosophy (Zhuhai) Sun Yat-sen University, China


. This research was supported by the 中央高校基本科研业务费专项资金资助 (Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities), no. 1709107.

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3. Amilcar Cabral, Revolution in Guinea: African People's Struggle (London: Stage 1, 1969); Patrick Chabal, Amilcar Cabral: Revolutionary Leadership and People's War, 2nd rev. ed. (London: C. Hurst, 2004); Amilcar Cabral, Unity and Struggle: Speeches and Writings, 2nd ed., ed. Chris Cocks and Mark Adams (Pretoria: Unisa Press, 2008); Reiland Rabaka, Concepts of Cabralism: Amilcar Cabral and Africana Critical Theory (New York: Lexington Books, 2014).

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12. Thaddeus Metz, "The Final Ends of Higher Education in Light of an African Moral Theory," Journal of Philosophy of Education 43, no. 2 (May 1, 2009): 179–201, ; Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness: A Personal Overview of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, new ed. (London: Rider, 2000).

13. P. Iroegbu, "Beginning, Purpose, and End of Life," in Kpim of Morality Ethics, ed. P. Iroegbu and A. Echekwube (Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books, 2005), 440–45, at 442.

14. George Silberbauer, "Ethics in Small-Scale Societies," in A Companion to Ethics, ed. Peter Singer (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 1993), 14–28, at 20.

15. Steve Biko, I Write What I Like: A Selection of Writings, rev. ed. (London: Heinemann, 1987), 46.

16. Metz, "Final Ends of Higher Education in Light of an African Moral Theory"; Thaddeus Metz, "African and Western Moral Theories in a Bioethical Context," Developing World Bioethics 10, no. 1 (April 1, 2010): 49–58, doi:10.1111/j.1471-8847.2009.00273.x.

17. Metz, "Toward an African Moral Theory"; Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness; Biko, I Write What I Like; Iroegbu, "Beginning, Purpose, and End of Life."

18. Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness, 35.

19. Metz, "Toward an African Moral Theory."

20. Thaddeus Metz, "African Conceptions of Human Dignity: Vitality and Community as the Ground of Human Rights," Human Rights Review 13, no. 1 (August 5, 2011): 19–37, doi:10.1007/s12142-011-0200-4.

21. Metz, "Toward an African Moral Theory."

22. Thaddeus Metz and Joseph B. R. Gaie, "The African Ethic of Ubuntu/Botho: Implications for Research on Morality," Journal of Moral Education 39, no. 3 (September 1, 2010): 273–90, doi:10.1080/03057240.2010.497609.

23. Metz, "Toward an African Moral Theory."

24. Metz, "Final Ends of Higher Education in Light of an African Moral Theory," 183.

25. Metz, "African Theory of Moral Status"; Thaddeus Metz, "Human Dignity, Capital Punishment, and an African Moral Theory: Toward a New Philosophy of Human Rights," Journal of Human Rights 9, no. 1 (February 2, 2010): 81–99, doi:10.1080/14754830903530300; Metz, "Toward an African Moral Theory"; Metz, "African Conceptions of Human Dignity."

26. Barbara Nussbaum, "African Culture and Ubuntu: Reflections of a South African in America," Perspectives 17, no 1. (February 12, 2003), World Business Academy, May 23, 2003,; Barbara Nussbaum, "Ubuntu: Reflections of a South African on Our Common Humanity," Reflections: The SoL Journal 4, no. 4 (2003): 21–26, doi:10.1162/152417303322004175.

27. Metz, "Life of Struggle as Ubuntu."

28. Nelson Mandela, Conversations with Myself (London: Pan, 2011), 233.

29. Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, new ed. (n.p.: Abacus, 1995), 325.

30. Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom; Metz, "Life of Struggle as Ubuntu"; Mandela, Conversations with Myself.

31. Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, 5th rev. ed. (New York: Basic Books, 2015); Walzer, Arguing About War.

32. Metz, "Toward an African Moral Theory."

33. Rabaka, Concepts of Cabralism.

34. Firoze and Bill, Claim No Easy Victories; Cabral, Revolution in Guinea.

35. Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, The "Civilising Mission" of Portuguese Colonialism, 1870–1930 (Houndmills, U.K.: AIAA, 2015).

36. Chabal, Amilcar Cabral.

37. Jerónimo, "Civilising Mission" of Portuguese Colonialism.

38. Ibid.

39. Ibid.; Chabal, Amilcar Cabral.

40. Rabaka, Concepts of Cabralism.

41. Saul Dubow, Apartheid, 1948–1994 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014); Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom.

42. Nelson Mandela, "I Am Prepared to Die" (April 20, 1964), Nelson Mandela Foundation, April 20, 2011, accessed September 18, 2016,

43. Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars (2006).

44. African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, October 21, 1986, accessed September 18, 2016,

45. Drew, "Visions of Liberation"; Mandela, "I Am Prepared to Die"; Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom.

46. Not all authors agree with this, and deontologists such as Thaddeus Metz would argue that there is a limit to violence in African thought. However, there is also a consequentialist stream in African philosophy (and this article focuses on that stream) that accepts all forms of violence as legitimate.

47. Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, 325.

48. Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom; Cabral, Revolution in Guinea; Cabral, Unity and Struggle.

49. Cabral, Revolution in Guinea; Chabal, Amilcar Cabral.

50. Mandela, "I Am Prepared to Die."

51. More recently, however, Western philosophers such as Jeff McMahan have challenged this view.

52. Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom.

53. Mandela, Conversations with Myself, 53.

54. Truth and Reconciliation Commission, accessed September 18, 2016,

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