n Journal of Public Administration - In search of African epistemology - a reflection of an editor

Volume 49, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



To secure the future of Africa and take her to new greatness, we need to heed Janita Patrick's (2009) warning that "it's awfully cruel to plant seeds of ignorance in fertile minds". This is profoundly instructive in that, as in Africa, we have a history of being preoccupied with what Ali Mazrui describes as "alien paradigms", ignoring the fact that we have knowledge of our own to frame our thinking and imagination of the future of the continent. However, such knowledge is not sufficiently documented. We seemed to have failed to muster the courage to challenge the power of the West, which, as Ziauddin Sardar (1999) explains, "is not located in its economic muscle and technological might. Rather, it resides in its power to define" the essence of who we are, and to prescribe that we should understand ourselves according to its frame of analysis. For fear of being defined out of existence, the large part of African scholarship succumbed to the definitions of the West about "what is, for example, freedom, progress, and civil behaviour, law, tradition and community; mathematics and science; what is real and what it means to be real". In most instances African scholarship just simply accepts these definitions, with its paradigmatic orientation embedded in the Western philosophies and theories propagated as the finite of science.

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