An integrative review of Albertina Sisulu and ubuntu: Relevance to caring and nursing

Charlene Downing, Marie Hastings-Tolsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Caring forms the core component of nursing. The history of the nature of caring in South Africa is non-specific and is unknown. The impact of nurse and activist Albertina Sisulu - known as the Mother of the Nation - has the potential to offer unique insights into what could be the context of caring for nurses. Aims: The study aimed at 1) critically synthesising the available evidence of caring as portrayed by Albertina Sisulu within the South African context, and 2) interpreting Sisulu's work within the Ubuntu philosophy as a framework for nursing and caring. Method: An integrative review was completed using Whittemore and Knafl's framework. Key electronic databases, selected references and web-based search engines were scoured for articles meeting the inclusion criteria. This systematic and iterative approach yielded 18 non-research reports related to Sisulu; eight reports (three research, five non-research) related to ubuntu and nursing. Data was extracted that related to relevant and conclusive new and innovative practices in caring. Results: The findings provided a context for practice guidelines of caring concerning knowledge and critical thinking about caring by nurses. Two primary factors emerged that demonstrated a culture of caring as seen through the prism of Sisulu's life: devoted dancer and creation of a healing environment. These factors also reflect African ubuntu principles, where the focus is on the relationships between people and how these relationships could be conducted. Conclusions: Ubuntu and Sisulu's approach to caring have much to offer for the nursing profession in terms of developing of new directions for nursing pedagogy, curriculum, practice patterns, and policies that emphasise caring constructs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-227
Number of pages14
JournalHealth SA Gesondheid
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Albertina Sisulu
  • Caring
  • Integrative review
  • Midwifery
  • Nursing
  • South Africa
  • Ubuntu

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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