I seek to advance enquiry into the philosophical question of in virtue of what human beings have a
dignity of the sort that grounds human rights. I first draw on values salient in sub-Saharan African
moral thought to construct two theoretically promising conceptions of human dignity, one grounded
on vitality, or liveliness, and the other on our communal nature. I then argue that the vitality
conception cannot account for several human rights that we intuitively have, while the community
conception can do so. I conclude that, of plausible theories of human dignity with an African pedigree,
the field ought to favour a community-based view and critically compare it in future work with the
Kantian, autonomy-based view that dominates Western thinking about dignity.