Original Research

Refugees and immigrants in Africa: Where is an African Ubuntu?

Mokoko P. Sebola
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 7, No 1 | a285 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v7i1.285 | © 2019 Mokoko Piet Sebola | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 March 2019 | Published: 27 June 2019

About the author(s)

Mokoko P. Sebola, Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Management and Law, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa


Background: International conventions set principles and standards by which immigrants have to be treated in receiving countries. A general perception held is that Africans are hostile towards each other, while those in developed countries are arguably said to be welcoming to immigrants. Although the manner in which immigrants have to be treated is influenced by the Western practices, Africans adopt approaches that cannot be defined as better in terms of African values.

Aim: The article investigates the unfair treatment of African immigrants in own continent because of ignoring the Ubuntu philosophy that guides the African life view.

Setting: The article is located within the African continent and context. It argues that the immigration policies of some African countries reflect the life views that are slightly in contradiction of the Ubuntu philosophy which underpins the African life view.

Methods: A desktop research approach was used to collect narrative materials to argue that Africans need to adopt an Ubuntu philosophy in dealing with immigrants so as to achieve their known peaceful and welcoming society.

Results: From the literature perspective, it becomes apparent that very few countries in Africa adopted immigration policies that are congruent with the Ubuntuphilosophy. Immigrants from Africa are not treated with the Ubuntu approach deserved for humanity. A number of African countries with small populations experience little immigrants’ problems as compared to those with larger populations.

Conclusion: This article concludes that the best approach to immigrants is the approach in which immigrants are integrated into the society rather than being put in refugee camps, which isolate them from the society.


Afrocentric; euro-centric; humanity; immigrants; refugee.


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