What Is African Philosophy of Life?


Martha Robinson

African philosophy of life is a term that refers to the various philosophical ideas and concepts that are unique to African cultures. It encompasses the thoughts, beliefs, and values of the people living in Africa. This philosophy emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things and focuses on communal living rather than individualism.


The African philosophy of life has its roots in ancient African societies. The earliest known examples of this philosophy can be traced back to Egypt, where ancient philosophers such as Ptahhotep and Imhotep wrote about the importance of morality, justice, and wisdom. This tradition was later carried on by other African societies, such as those in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Ghana.


One of the central principles of African philosophy is Ubuntu, which means “I am because we are.” This principle emphasizes the importance of community and interdependence. It highlights that everyone is connected to each other, and one’s actions can affect others positively or negatively.

Another important principle is Ma’at, which means “truth,” “justice,” and “order.” This concept embodies a sense of balance and harmony in all things. It highlights that people should strive for a sense of balance between their personal needs and desires with what is best for their community.


The African philosophy of life has great significance for Africans because it helps them understand their place in the world. It provides guidance on how to live a good life by fostering positive relationships with others.

This philosophy also has broader implications for global society. By emphasizing communal living over individualism, it promotes social harmony over competition. The idea that everyone is connected can help promote a sense of global citizenship among individuals across different cultures.


In conclusion, the African philosophy of life offers valuable insights into how individuals can live harmoniously with each other and with nature. Its principles of Ubuntu and Ma’at highlight the importance of community and balance, which can help individuals across cultures develop a sense of social responsibility.

By incorporating these principles into our lives, we can foster greater understanding and cooperation among different cultures. The African philosophy of life offers a unique perspective that can help us create a more peaceful and just world for all.