n Filosofia Theoretica: Journal of African Philosophy, Culture and Religions - The question of the "African" in African philosophy : in search of a criterion for the Africanness of a philosophy

Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2276-8386
  • E-ISSN: 2408-5987



The African question in African philosophy is enigmatic because of the intentional attempt to rationalize Africans out of humanity. Eurocentric scholars and missionaries mutilated history and concocted a false image of Africans which they presented as the substantive African identity (MUDIMBE 1988); an identity that presents the African as pre-logical, barbaric and as such incapable of philosophic thoughts. This identity was foisted and consolidated on humanity including Africans, and intellectually accepted as the true African identity for over four centuries. Consequently, while the racist Eurocentric description of the African makes it impossible for one to suggest that there can be anything like African philosophy, the enslavement, balkanization, colonization and the introduction of a Western-oriented formal education into Africa further dehumanized, traumatized and alienated Africans from their culture. This experiment is what precipitated the identity problem in Africa. Hence, the issue of a criterion for the Africanness of a philosophy is a contentious one because Africans were by their intellectual orientation trained to believe that there is nothing as such. This training and orientation also makes it difficult for those who think that there is a distinct African mode of thinking to be able to present it in a clear and unambiguous manner. This is because such a criterion will restrict the scope of African philosophy to a given epoch. In this sense, African philosophy will be concerned with only a part of the African historical experience. Given the comprehensive nature of philosophy, we are inclined to the persuasion that a criterion for the Africanness of a philosophy ought to be derived from the totality of the African experience.

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