African Philosophy and the challenges of development

African   Philosophy   and the challenges of development


The quest for development is a special area where African condition has greatly influenced African Philosophical thinking. It is the task of philosophy to assess the relevance of African philosophy to African development therefore; African philosophy must not shy away from its proper task. Philosophical knowledge obtained from African philosophy should be used to develop the continent




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After payment, text the name of the project, email address and your names to 08064502337 ultimately, to provide the best possible answers to continental needs. In African confused state, only critical approach of philosophy could suggest some good steps that if taken, could lead to better quality of life.  In other words, to drive home the focal point, these questions will be answered in subsequent chapters; why is Africa still under-developed? What is the economy of development that we should follow to lead us towards authentic development?   What is the relevance of African philosophy to African development? The methods in doing this work will be analysis and hermeneutics. The study is an investigation into the much philosophy has to do in influencing man’s life and bringing about changes in societies both with national development at its secondary sense via ‘human development’. At the end, the role of African philosophy to the continental development would be established.   The research shall be based on publications and new media.



1.1 Background of Study

Africa has definitely had her own share of man’s historical development and travails. The African continent and its history is characterized by a growing social complexity, decadence, backwardness, conquests, colonialism, transatlantic slave trade, poverty, economic depression, war, insecurity, diseases and illiteracy resulting in her almost loss of  identity. The euphoria that followed the attainment of political independence in Africa, elicited hope for development in the continent, with the deplorable socio-economic trends of things in recent times, it is apparent that we are still far from development.

As a result of this, many African scholars have articulated philosophical formulations to serve as an African view point. Senghor posited Negritude (colour) as the base, Nyerere posited Ujamaa, and while Nkrumah holds that the crisis exists in the conscience of the Africans as a result of the colonial past. Various philosophical theories have been posited by some African scholars proffering ways of restoring African identity and world view. Rather than contending with past events or history, we might do best to return to the forge and the furnace, to reshape and refine in the shadow of ancient wisdom our modern folly, our understanding of a world that we inherit collectively. Therefore, our past should not hold us back, for many philosophical theories are now in, for African development through rational empowerment/ enlightenment.

1.2 Statement of Problem

The inability of Africa to develop at the same pace with the other continents of the world has been a perturbing issue that gave rise to these questions; why is Africa still under-developed? What is the relationship between philosophy (African) and African development?  What is the economy of development that we should follow to lead us towards authentic development?   The search for African authenticity is a worrisome burden because the concept development is such a complex term to explicate. The problem lies with the aspect of development Africa should pursue. The socio-political cum economic goal of the continent also is complex and requires an integrated approach to solve. Looking at all these, there is need to beam a philosophical search light on the African developmental problems with a view to find workable ideas that could move the continent1.

However, the application of African philosophy to every aspect of human life in the continent appears elusive because at present, African philosophy seems to be bogged down by the crisis of relevance. As a matter of fact, it seems that with the situation of things, contemporary African philosophy seeks no means to disengage from the common folk of armchair philosophy2. Hence, the onus lies with African philosophy to either ask and give solutions to the state of affairs in the continent or take the risk of being ridiculed as an idle discipline portraying the common allusion that Africa cannot manage its affairs. This work ‘A Critical Analysis of African Philosophy and the Challenges of Development’ promises to proffer solutions to these problems.

1.3   Scope of Study

The scope of this study is solely on African philosophy and development. Philosophy as a discipline is the ground upon which this research work stands; African philosophy is the main area of focus where this work is limited to and this work, ‘African Philosophy And the challenges of development’, touches on the various aspects of African development namely the economic, political, sociological, psychological, historical and the technological. It hinges on the trends and dynamics of African development from the pre-colonial to the colonial, and then to the post-colonial African days. It is so because without delving into the past it will be impossible to understand how the present came to be and what the trends are for the near future. In any case, it is only in this way that we can we formulate a strategy and tactics of African emancipation and development.

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Therefore, this study will be strictly on the relevance of African philosophy to African development and; contemporary relevance of African philosophy to the development of Africa will be exposed and its criticisms will be examined as well.

1.4  Purpose of Study

The purpose of this work is to discover, analyze and evaluate the role of    African philosophy in discovering path ways towards a sustainable development of the African continent and for Africans to wake up and redefine themselves in this world. The question of how Africans can achieve the goals of economic freedom and development without compromising their identity will be subjected to a critical examination and also to unravel the socio-political, economic and moral problems of the African world and to examine critically the challenges posed by these problems bedeviling the  sustainable development of the continent.

The reasons for Africa’s failure to fulfill the potential available when colonial rulers granted independence many years ago is a complicated mix that is difficult to explain. In response to the above, the purpose of the thesis is to search for our roots and to emphasize what is unique to the Africans. It is to make a positive impact on the people. Furthermore, this thesis is examining the question of African crisis of identity and looking critically at the role of philosophy in recent development debate.

1.5  Significance of Study

If Africa is not in dire need of development, this work would not have been contemplated in the first place. The present deplorable state of human and material resources on the continent brings into relevance, any study that gears towards its restitution and improvement. As such, this work being a search for the relevance of philosophy to African development is most significant. Subsequently, development being an omnibus concept, or, what Rodney calls “a many-sided process”, brings the work to bear on all aspects of life on the continent further strengthening its significance.

After many years of political independence from the colonial masters, the continent of Africa is still characterized by underdevelopment. Pejorative names were given to Africa due to its inability to develop at the same pace with other developed continents of the globe. This essay, African Philosophy and the Challenges of Development’, is important and is worth studying because it attempts to articulate a strategy that is philosophical for the development of Africa as a task for African.

The Europeans discovered Africa, it is expected that African philosophers will be of immense help to the rediscovering and development of Africa. This work tries to establish the fact that there is no better tool for the African to do so effectively than African philosophy. Africans need to interpret and master their own world by power of philosophical knowledge.

This study will add to the literature of African philosophy, it will be of importance to many African leaders and scholars who have committed themselves to African development. To the African society as an avenue for cultural construction, historical deconstruction, trado-customic reduction, moral fine tuning and reconstruction (of values); and historical reconstruction of all the above for the authentic development of the African continent.3 The knowledge gotten from this work will be used for the development and the progress of Africa both spiritually, politically, economically, morally etc. by fashioning out panacea to the anomalies. Finally, this work will act as an eye opener to envisage the necessity of mental liberation and empowerment in all ramifications of existence. Therefore with the philosophical enlightenment, reality will be embraced as it is.  Ways by which Africans can develop sustainably like other developed continents’ of the globe, will be stipulated in the subsequent chapters and need for cultural reconstruction will also be analyzed.

1.6  Methodology

The work applies both the primary and secondary research sources.

Primary sources: This work made use of firsthand information, sourced from persons, who are authorities and those who are valuable for determination of certain variables and indicators in the area of study.

Secondary Sources: This research employed the use of data collected and collated from books, magazines, journal, articles, projects, and periodicals.

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This work applies the method of critical analysis and hermeneutics to the study of African development.

1.6.1  Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics is a philosophical method that deals with texts interpretation. However, hermeneutics is a more widely defined discipline of interpretation theory, because it includes the entire framework of the interpretive process, encompassing written, verbal, and nonverbal communication. Philosophical hermeneutics refers primarily to the theory of knowledge initiated by Martin Heidegger and developed by Hans-Georg Gadamer in Truth and Method, and sometimes to theories of Paul Riceour. Hermeneutics consistently refers to analysis of texts for coherent explanation. A hermeneutic (singular) refers to one particular method of or strand of interpretation.

This work divided into six chapters for easy reading and clarity. Chapter one contains the general introduction as well as the general structure of the work. Chapter two takes care of the literature review while chapter three focuses on Trends/perspectives and predicaments of African development. Chapter four deals on African Philosophy. Chapter five concentrates on examining the relationship between African philosophy and development. This is followed by chapter six, which is recommendation and conclusion.

1.7 Definition of Concepts/Terms

1.7.1 Africa

The word African is an adjective that describes whatever belongs or relates to the noun Africa; Africa being the continent south of the Mediterranean Sea; East of the Atlantic Ocean and west of the Indian ocean4.

1.7.2 Philosophy

Philosophy derives from Greek words ‘phileo’ and ‘sophia’ meaning ‘to love’ and ‘wisdom’ respectively. Etymologically, therefore it is defined as the love of wisdom. Philosophy is essentially a reflective and critical activity; a rational scrutiny into the meaning of life and experience.  According to Stojanovic, “Philosophy explores and evaluates the totality of the human condition in society. It represents society’s most general and most fundamental theoretical-critical- self-consciousness.”5 We can see that the ultimate aim of philosophy is to find the problem confronting man in the society. Ladiere sums it up in the following words:

Philosophy is the reflection of experience upon itself, endeavoring to grasp its own conclusion and its own significance and to follow as far as possible the treads of implication which connect human experience with its most remote conditions of possibility… the real content of experience is revealed by the actions and the works which the life of consciousness manifests itself.6

1.7.3 African Philosophy

African philosophy stands as a legitimate course concerned with major problems such as; what is Africa? Who is the African? Does African have a culture?   What is African philosophy? It has been difficult to define what African philosophy is rather most philosophers have contended themselves with describing what African philosophy is. According to Sogolo; the controversy over what constitutes African philosophy tends to dominate, sometimes so much that it forms almost the entire content of the course7. Various attempts have been made in contemporary writings on African philosophy to provide a definition of the idea of African philosophy. Central to this problem is a distinction between African philosophy as a folk thought preserved in oral traditions and African philosophy as critical, individual reflection which entails the use of modern logical and conceptual techniques.8

The two dominants positions in the debate on the analytic schools hold different view as to what African philosophy really is. The former maintains that the discovery of authentic African ideas and thought systems must be influenced by alien accretions. African crisis of identity is due to the fact that Africans have lost its root in the original material of myth, folklore, social organization and oral literature and culture9. The latter emphasizes on the adoption of western scientific and categories of freedom of inquiry, openness to criticism, skepticism, analysis and non-veneration of wrong authorities in the study of African philosophy10.

Joseph Omoregbe of traditionalist group is of the view that;

African philosophy encompasses the traditional African thought such as myths, wise sayings, folklores and contemporary works of African philosophers (even if trained in western philosophical tradition) which deals with evaluation and analysis of contemporary issues agitating the African mind11.

Contrary to the above view is that of Gene Blocker of the Analytic bent,

African philosophy must conform and utilize the traditional tools of philosophy which include conceptual analysis, mental structure, and logical rigor, critical inquiry in order to clarify and offer solution to social, political and human problems of contemporary Africa. African philosophy has no particular style, only several features12.

The fact that African philosophers are battling with these preliminary anxieties of defining an authentic African philosophy points to the fact that the concept African philosophy is slippery and also with an over lapping meaning. But for this work, a prudent marriage of two ideas above would serve. This is in line with the view of Wiredu; Philosophy should not be too academic and technical because it can lose its quality of being relevant to the need of the people. On the other hand, criticality, technicality and high degree of complexity are inevitable in any serious and sustained philosophical inquiry.13


In dispassionate view, African philosophy is the philosophy that is expanded by African thinkers which is characterized by rigor in analysis and criticisms of African cultural beliefs and those issues that borders the African society.14   In making African philosophy to be relevant to the continent, we define African philosophy as a philosophy that has its focus on such issues that will tend to ameliorate the sufferings of the African people. A philosophy that would be adequate to the extent that it accord with the existential needs of the Africans which it attempt to represent, but the definition of African philosophy from the strict sense of the term philosophy, would mean the quest for a comprehensive understanding of human existence with the objective to consider the rational justification of African human, cultural and moral values, rational answers to the problems that bug contemporary African society and finally, establishing a criteria and methodology in the interpretations of the nature of reality in the African perspective15.

The definition of African philosophy from the loose sense of philosophy is the conception of philosophers as worldviews or nodal organizing principles. Here we can conceive the concept of worldview as relating to philosophy at least in three ways in which (i) world views may yield or produce philosophy or theoretical thought as its pre-suppositional foundation; (ii) world view may be identified or synonymous with philosophy as its exact equivalent, and (iii) world view may crown or complete philosophy as its highest achievement.16 Our conception of African philosophy in this loose sense and for this work, is the relation it has with world view in the(iv) sense of world view being synonymous with philosophy. Conceived in this way, we take African philosophy/world views to be nodal organizing principles which are nothing but the supreme beliefs of a people and their derivations, bearing in mind that a belief is supreme if it dominates the class of other beliefs not belonging to it.17

From the above analysis of African philosophy, we are of the view that African philosophy encompasses the traditional culture and values of Africa, the analysis and solutions to contemporary issues bordering the continent; it is the reflection upon the human existence and ultimate reality in the rational investigation and solution to the rational questions that arouse the mind, when reflecting on African realities.

1.7.4     Development

Development according to Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary is the gradual growth of something so that it becomes more advanced, stronger, etc. Development in human society is a many sided process, at the individual level, it implies increased skill and capability to earn more income, greater freedom of action, creativity, self -discipline, responsibility and general material and psychological well-being. The achievement of these has meaning only in relation to the state of society.

Development at the societal level  implies  increased capacity to regulate internal and external relations , increase in ability to guard national independence, self-sufficiency in food production, high level of employment, equalization in the distribution of social services, self-reliance, equalization of economic opportunities, ability to solve internal problems, education etc.

In general, development means to improve, to make progress, change for the better, higher income or better living standard, and increase in the quantity of goods and services available to the people and thereby improving the quality of their lives. It also involves social and material advancement, which enables people to gain greater control of their environment.

African   Philosophy   and the challenges of development


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