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History & Location

The Novalis Ubuntu Institute was founded in Durban in 1983 by Dr. Ralph T. Shepherd and a group of conscious friends with the purpose of making a creative contribution to the educational, social and cultural challenges of our times.

The Institute is named after the German poet, philosopher and geologist Friedrich von Hardenberg (1772-1801) who chose the pen name of NOVALIS (i.e. “that which is of the future” in Latin) and the African philosophy of UBUNTU (a philosophy based on oneness and selfless giving described at length by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela). The combination of the two words can thus be interpreted as “Oneness as the Way of the Future”.

The Institute is located in Wynberg, the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, just 15 minutes away from the Cape Town City Centre. The dome-shape building in which the Institute operates was designed by architect Brian Johnson and was built thanks to a grant given by the governments of Germany and Japan in 1996. This humanistic building contains a large assembly hall, four large classrooms, a library, a kitchen, and an administrator’s block, and beautifully landscaped gardens.