Readings on African Philosophy

Recently finished an article on the question of AfroFuturist technology from various African perspectives and wanted to list some publications and thinkers who I’ve come across.


Alexis Kagame – (yes I am aware that he’s definitely not a contemporary philosopher, but an interesting figure in modern African philosophy I hadn’t heard of before) need to read his work but he was mentioned as part of a critique of the blanket terms used to describe principles within African philosophical discourse (e.g. ‘Ubuntu’).

Ifeanyi Menkiti – OK wtaf, we need to expand this pathetic wiki stub. Reading his foreword to ‘Ka Osi Sọ Onye: African Philosophy in the Postmodern Era’ was brilliant in itself:

…[w]hich brings me to my second point, namely; the role that Africa can play in this newly arrived discursive field called postmodernism. This second point follows naturally from the first. Because of Africa’s generally accepted communal way of looking at things, and the continent’s impatience with abstraction for its own sake, we might be able to make do with the notion of “true enough” or “moral enough,” i.e. true sufficient unto the task at hand, or moral sufficient unto the task at hand.

This is not to argue for a notion of relativism in truth or a notion of relativism in the field of morality, for then one would also be engaging in an abstraction. The point, rather, is that with the true and the moral made sufficient, judging from the task at hand, the social and communal roles in the designation of knowledge, the doing of the moral thing, get to be preserved, as I believe they should. Truth is not found in the head of the individual alone, nor is morality found in the head or heart of the individual alone.

Ifeanyi Menkiti, Ka Osi Sọ Onye: African Philosophy in the Postmodern Era

I am now itching to read some more of his work (there is a list and I’m trying to be disciplined).


A companion to African philosophy – keeping this tab open!

Ka Osi Sọ Onye: African Philosophy in the Postmodern Era – found a couple of pages available online. Particularly taken with the concept of an okwucentric approach to philosophical discourse proposed by Jonathan Chimakonam. I think this provocation is so necessary to current discourse on how differently perceived realities can be bridged to ensure a public space that is malleable and resilient. I would also be really interested in a womanist/feminist (perhaps even queer although there are different interpretations of indigenous pre-Christian queerphobia) critique on the [potential for?] failure of an okwucentric approach within e.g. non-colonised Igbo society – yes the African perspective might be labelled as ‘communal’ but it is clear from various practices that that doesn’t necessarily translate to an equipartitioned dignity for different sub-communities/groups (e.g. women, the infertile etc.).

Momoh’s Theory of Many-Many Truths as a Prototype of Postmodern Thinking in African Philosophy

Why Conversational Thinking Could be an Alternative Method for Intercultural Philosophy – might see if I have access to this via the museum. Probably not in which case, any downloads appreciated!

The method of African science: A philosophical evaluation – perhaps there’s something to be explored regarding parallels with how ‘science’ wa/is understood by Confucian cultures? Probably only a superficial similarity in terms of holistic ontological approaches.

The references are definitely worth checking out though!

Strange bedfellows? African Philosophy, Performance Studies and the Art of Disciplinary Transgression – something to be re-read for sure. Some useful insights for neo-mmanwu project.

Comparing Ancient Egyptian and Oromo Philosophy – another long read I’m keeping the tab open for. Thoughts to come!

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