About Ulimi Online

Ulimi Online is the brainchild of Anitra Butler-Ngugi. It’s an underpinning of ubuntugogy and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s appeal to the African Diaspora to learn an African language. “[European] Language[s] and literature were taking us further and further from ourselves to other selves, from our world to other worlds…” Thiong’o’s thought was housed in Bangura’s (2005) Ubuntugogy: An African educational paradigm that transcends pedagogy, andragogy, ergonagy and heutagogy.

I had the pleasure of reading Bangura’s (2005) Ubuntugogy: An African educational paradigm that transcends pedagogy, andragogy, ergonagy and heutagogy in the summer of 2017. As a result,  my reflections on teaching, learning, and language have transformed. I now understand that one can not effectively build learner competencies and learner capabilities without ubuntu. Bangura’s exegesis of African Humanism and Bantu philosophy reminded me of an obvious long forgotten notion. Many African people live in two worlds: the traditional world and the modern scientific. I am one of those African people.

“The people who live in these two worlds are often confused because both worlds seem to yield appropriate fruits. Consequently, a new culture has emerged: it is a mixture of the African culture and the European culture. It is to this new culture that Ubuntugogy as an African educational paradigm can respond positively” (Bangura, 2017, p.90). Bangura (2017) argued that:

  • Ubuntugogy is a sine qua non for educating Africans.
  • Ubuntugogy clearly needs to be revitalized in the hearts and minds of some Africans.
  • Ubuntu is a distinctly African rationale for ways of relating to others.
  • Ubuntu is having a positive attitude towards the other.

My colonized African mind has been trained to value “solitary over solidarity, independence over interdependence, and individuality” over humanity (Bangura, 2005, 33). Reversing the Cartesian worldview that formats my mind and my instructional practices is not easy. It appears that my only salvation is ubuntugogy, which Bangura defined as, “the art and science of teaching and learning undergirded by humanity towards others” (2005, p. 13).

“Western education has made many Africans selfish” (Bangura, 2005, p. 24). I believe this is because Western educational paradigms promote self-determined learning, self-directed learning, and learner autonomy. Since I partook in western teaching and learning practices,  I am one of those selfish Africans. I am programed to value my self-will over the will of others. I have also formally and informally taught others to value their self-will over the will of others.  My Cartesian formatted mind causes me to “flatten” the differences of others, and generalize their behaviors, customs, and intentions, thus making it even easier to overlook their humanity (2005, p. 35).

Bangura argued, “we must revisit African teaching that takes…epistemological, cosmological, methodological, and ubuntugogic challenges into account” (2005, p. 40). The African Renaissance, which should guide our thought processes, therefore, must recapture those basic elements of African Humanism (ubuntu, eternal life, and immanent moral justice) as the opening of the way to a new humanistic universalism. (Bangura, 2005, p. 35)

If you are a teacher of African people, or a teacher of African languages, then the understanding of ubuntugogy and its powerful capacity to move teaching and learning beyond the scope of pedagogy and androgogy is imperative.  To learn more about this paradigm, sign up for our free course, Ubuntugogy 101. This course will answer two key questions: Why have Western educational systems yielded limited benefits for a large number of African people? How is it the salvation for African people?


Bangura, Abdul. (2005). Ubuntugogy: An African educational paradigm that transcends pedagogy, andragogy, ergonagy and heutagogy. 22. 13-53.

Bangura, Abdul Karim (2017). African-Centered Internet Literacy: An Ubuntugogy Metadata Approach, Journal of Pan African Studies.