During an address to ASEG (African Students Empowerment Group), Professor Moussa Traore spoke on ” The African Society and Philosophy” and defined Africana philosophy as critical thinking by Africans and people of African descent on their experiences of reality. Africana philosophy includes the philosophical ideas, arguments and theories of particular concern to people of African descent. Some of the topics explored by Africana philosophy include: modern day debates discussing the early history of Western philosophy, post-colonial writing, black resistance to oppression, black existentialism, the meaning of “blackness” in the modern world. Concepts like Ubuntu (humanity, compassion in Zulu) and Ujama (extended family, brotherhood in Swahili) are central here.
The problem starts from Western intrusion into Africa and introducing fallacies that make Africans yearn for Western values. That yearning for formal education, which African students could only satisfy at great cost of effort, will, and sacrifice, was hemmed in within the confines of the colonial system. Recoiling from this strait-jacketing, some young people like Nkrumah tried to study at centers outside the metropolis of our administering power. That is how America came to appeal to them.
The colonized African student, whose roots in his own society are systematically starved of sustenance, is introduced to Greek and Roman history, the cradle history of modern Europe, and he is encouraged to treat this portion of the story of man together with the subsequent history of Europe as the ideal, the “Center”, Africa becomes the “Periphery”.
Unfortunately, and this is a disaster, Western Philosophy which was forced into my mind of the African came to be divorced from human life. It becomes so abstract in certain Western universities as to bring its practitioners under the suspicion of being taxidermists of concepts. And yet the early history of philosophy shows it to have had living roots in human life and human society.
Only a close reading and implementation of Consciencism, the writings by Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Amadou Hampâthé Bâ and Thomas Sankara’s ideas can cure the African from that poisonous indoctrination that keeps Africa behind economically, socio-politically and culturally.
Moussa Traoré is Associate Professor at the Department of English of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana.