P177


Idealizing the Rural? Emerging Consciousness to Relocate African Theoria to the Village Square 
Convenor:
Anthony Okeregbe (University of Lagos)
Send message to Convenor
Chair:
Muyiwa Falaiye (University of Lagos)
Format:
Panels
Location:
KH117
Start time:
1 July, 2017 at 14:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
2

Short Abstract:

This panel seeks papers that will rigorously examine the prospects or otherwise of the emerging encounter of the urban elite and the traditional African over the politics of African knowledge.

Long Abstract

In recent times there have been concerted efforts on the part of many Africanist scholars to rethink the study of Africa by Africans. This new awareness, following Edward Blyden's over a century old clarion call, maintains that African societies and history must be understood from inside out, stressing further that African experiences must be expressed in an African vocabulary. However, it needs being asked, how the urban African intelligentsia can express African experiences in African vocabulary and episteme without taking recourse in the rural and traditional, especially when the rural mythos looks up to the urban and modern ratio for universalization. In the light of this query, it becomes clear that the emerging consciousness is characterized by 1) urbanized and western educated African intellectuals promoting the rural and traditional as the locus of the authentic theory about Africa and Africans; 2) the tendencies of the rural seeker to see the urban and modern as the channel to enlightenment and global education; 3) a phenomenon of marginality (or possible enrichment) that ensues from this new encounter. This panel seeks papers that will rigorously examine the prospects or otherwise of the emerging encounter of the urban elite and the traditional African over the politics of African knowledge. It proposes presentations that discuss how indigenous epistemologies can re-define the urban knowledge base about Africa.

Accepted papers:

Author:

Muyiwa Falaiye (University of Lagos)

Paper short abstract:

Panel Chair and Discussant

Paper long abstract:

Panel Chair and Discussant

Author:

Anthony Okeregbe (University of Lagos)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the philosophical implication of the interaction between the local Babalawo and the urbanized African.

Paper long abstract:

Although by popular understanding, the Babalawo may be regarded as a diviner, medicine man or an Ifa priest, in a profound sense, he is a professional in the traditional African setting, who possesses occulted knowledge about ultimate reality. He deploys this knowledge in order to understand and then draw wise conclusion or on a course of action. Notwithstanding the claims of urban enlightenment and the frequent rural-urban migration, the Babalawo is sought after as the solution provider to fundamental questions and perplexing situations people grapple with. Drawing insight from experiences in urban African settings, this paper examines the philosophical implication of the interaction between the local Babalawo and the urbanized African. It raises question such as: Why does the urbanized city dweller still patronize the 'rural' or local Babalawo? What is the implication of this overlapping of frontiers of knowledge on the urban African? The paper argues that in terms of dissemination of traditional African metaphysical ideas, epistemological principles and moral values, the Babalawo is the link between the rural (which harbours a repertoire of these ideas), and the urban, which is the portal of reaching out to the global world. It argues further that, while the interaction upholds the rural rootedness of the African, it also colours his perception of the idea of any global metaphysical pool, and glosses over rigorous subjection of the intellect to unravel truths about reality.

Key words: Babalawo, the African, cultural relativism, sage philosophy

Author:

Adebola Babatunde Ekanola (University of Ibadan)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines how an African conception of peace, derived from interviews with an African sage and a critical interrogation of Ifa, offers a viable theoretical template to effectively prevent or resolve the problem of violent conflict ravaging many parts of Africa today.

Paper long abstract:

With the increasing interest in indigenous knowledge and the growing appreciation of its relevance in contemporary African society, African scholars across disciplines seek to interact with traditional African sages with the conviction that the latter possess a store of indigenous knowledge that can facilitate social development and address diverse social challenges in Africa in ways that are better than Western-derived alternatives. This effort is largely premised on the perceived shortcomings of Western theories and conceptions in providing an adequate basis or framework to effectively address many of the core social and developmental challenges confronting contemporary African society.

The paper employs Odera Oruka's conception of Sage Philosophy as framework to illustrate the centrality of traditional African sages and the traditional African literature derived from them and other indigenous cultural sources in the recent attempts to construct an indigenous knowledge base. Its central argument is that indigenous knowledge provides a useful framework for addressing much of the challenges confronting contemporary African society. Thus, it examines how an African conception of peace, derived from interviews with an African sage and a critical interrogation of Ifa, an indigenous cultural source that a crop of African sages are custodians of, offers a viable theoretical template to effectively prevent or resolve the problem of violent conflict ravaging many parts of Africa today.

Author:

Stelia Muianga (Universidade Pedagogica)

Paper short abstract:

Reflect about the African encounter with the "other" trough myths in Africa and its epistemological possibility to philosophical knowledge production.

Paper long abstract:

The modern philosophical discourse since Hegel since today held in its substrate the idea of the intimate relationship between philosophy and myth, if not, in its radical vision, the denial of rationality of African, what Hegel termed as "absence of self-consciousness." So, my interest is to interpret discourse on the myth in Africa and the possibility of epistemological conditions that it provides to knowledge production. This leads us to think about development of the African continent itself. Once developed conceptual and theoretical foundations we will have to face the practical problems arising from the relationship we have with other parts of the world. A situation that has put us in a submissive position. The legitimization of African knowledge from the inside will set us free from Western control. We do not want to be traditionalist in the sense of looking at the past as the treasure chest where we get the answers to our problems. But think how from cultural/traditional elements we can develop our continent through the light of the current conditions (without wanting to ignore globalization). Following the line of Castiano - in his book on Sagacity and Intersubjectivation - we think that reflections from the context/traditional would led to a debate on "new" conceptual frameworks, suggested by traditional elaborations. Through these new conceptual frameworks African philosophers would feed a debate around ontological, epistemic and ethical questions among others of philosophy in general.

Keywords: African Philosophy/Knowledge, Myths, Interculturality,

Author:

Sirajudeen Owosho (University of LagosU)

Paper short abstract:

This paper attempts a phenomenological inquiry into Muyiwa Falaiye's position on the encounter between the Sage Philosopher and the Professional Philosopher.

Paper long abstract:

In his paper titled "Philosophic Sagacity and the Problem of Transmitting Knowledge Without Writing: The Ekiti Yoruba Experience", Falaiye argues that for the submission of the Sage Philosopher to pass muster as philosophy, it needs the collaboration of the Professional Philosopher as a moderator. This paper questions the authenticity of the philosophical submission of the didactic sage, if such submission is the product of the collaboration of both the Sage Philosopher and the Professional Philosopher. Using phenomenology as a method of inquiry, this paper further argues that the moderation carried out by the urbanized Professional Philosopher as the ideas of the didactic sage is tantamount to a presupposition that dilutes the authentic African philosophy.

Author:

Peter Oni (University of Lagos)

Paper short abstract:

Africa’s exposure to the world and the cross cultural tendencies call for a reappraisal of a new epistemic paradigm for the black world.

Paper long abstract:

BRIDGING THE DIVIDE THROUGH RECOGNITION

The emphasis in contemporary times on a new discourse on Africa's episteme is intrinsically linked to the myriad of socio linguist problems facing the continent. This is more evident considering the cultural heritage of the black world. Indeed, the underlying conceptual problem is the assumption for some scholars that Africa's episteme is the sole province of traditional Africans in rural settings, while others see it as the exclusive prerogative of the urban intelligentsia. Unarguably, Africa's exposure to the world and the cross cultural tendencies call for a reappraisal of the new epistemic paradigm for the black world. But for the politics of African knowledge to set a new path, it must first build a spiritual basis that highlights the principles of African plurality. This paper investigates how Africans construct their superstructure and identity in the light of the complexity of the dual representative identity. Consequently, it formulates a holistic view of communal African recognition that guarantees the sense of belonging.

Key Words: Africa's episteme, identity, recognition

Authors:

Modestus Onyeaghalaji (University of Lagos)
Friday Ndubuisi (University of Lagos, Nigeria)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines the moral epistemology of the traditional customary law in Africa. The reason is to show its ethical prospects and the knowledge capital as a platform for conversations among the urban elite and traditional African over the politics of African knowledge

Paper long abstract:

Customary law has always been subjected to sever criticism by legal theorists. Based on the criticisms, customary law is called primitive and regarded as a myth of the rural and denied a place of relevance and authority in modern law, since it did not pass through legislative processes before becoming law. Using the philosophical tools of critical analysis, this study examines the foundations of customary law as practiced in the African communities. The aim is to sifter ethical principles or objective standards of justice that can justify human conducts as either good or bad, wrong or right, just or unjust. The objective is to show that customary law is neither spontaneous and arbitrary creations nor authoritarian imposition on any given community. And that as long as such law is not in contravention to the principles of natural law, equity and good conscience it merits to be seen as valid law. It argues that customary law has similar functional roles with ethics, which is the regulation of human conducts to improve societal cohesion and human survival, rewarding and punishing human conducts, enhancing human co-existence as a social group and not as suicide club; customary law is thus ethically justifiable.

Author:

Olatunji Alabi Oyeshile (University of Ibadan)

Paper short abstract:

Environmental development in South-West Nigeria is based on overt urbanization to the peril of rural communities. This model of environmental development is fallacious. The paper calls for a balance environmental development of urban and rural spaces to engender sustainable human development.

Paper long abstract:

Human development, viewed holistically, is incomplete without the development of the environment. This is a critical perspective on urbanization and its implications for rural development in South-West of Nigeria. The paper argues that governments in South-West Nigeria, due to political pressure, have concentrated attention on the development of urban spaces to the neglect of rural areas and this has resulted in what can be termed "fallacy of environmental development".

The paper contends that over-concentration of development in urban space in south west, Nigeria has resulted in economic strangulation, political underdevelopment and poor living standard of rural dwellers which have also led to under-utilization of natural resources and unethical approach to environmental development. Urbanity tends to rest on false foundation since there is neutralization of environmental gains built on urbanization due to the saturation of urban space.

The paper submits that there is a need for a reversal of this approach and reinvent the environment in South-West, Nigeria based on ethical, economic, metaphysical, sociopolitical, aesthetic and epistemological perspectives. These perspectives give adequate attention to the rural space alongside the urban space to engender sustainable environmental development.

Keywords: Urbanization, Rural development, South-West Nigeria, Sustainable development.

Author:

Benjamin Olujohungbe (Augustine University, Ilara-Epe, Lagos, Nigeria)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on the Yoruba knowledge society, paper proposes that an open dialogue which would lead to the advancement of knowledge on Africa between urban researchers and rural agents who relate directly to deposits of African gnosis is achievable through disenchantment from myths and decolonization.

Paper long abstract:

The task of advancing knowledge on Africa from rural African spaces by urban African researchers confronts two formidable challenges; namely, the preponderance of myths and 'being as force' in the network of rural African gnosis and the contemptuous poise of the urban African researcher against indigenous knowledge systems (IKS). This attitude is the aftermath of colonial efforts at reserving epistemic hegemony and neo-colonization by Africans who have been inundated against the possibility of an African knowledge system. The fixation on myths and force by rural agents and western academy-derived knowledge system constitute mutually antagonistic power structures with the cumulative effect of stifling efforts at understanding Africa from inside out.

This paper focusing on the Yoruba knowledge society employs hermeneutical and reconstructive approaches in proposing two paths to the development of robust African knowledge base by African researchers. The first path argues that rural agents contributing to developing African episteme must disenchant where necessary. The second is directed at the urgency of achieving a consummated decolonization. While the former path sees the rural moving from a system of myths to the articulation of liberal epistemic system, the latter seeks to nullify the incredulity and contempt urban researchers have about the reality of knowledge in Africa. Knowledge that has the benefit of African originality can thus be consolidated on an open dialogue between urban researchers and rural agents who have direct relations to the deposit of African gnosis pertaining to politics, law, ethics, pharmacognosy, health care, economy and the environment.

Author:

Adewale Owoseni (University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria)

Paper short abstract:

The research attempts a philosophical interrogation of the nature of patriarchal arrangement in rural-urban Africa locales and impact on women’s participation in economy and knowledge production, with specific emphasis on the Nigerian example.

Paper long abstract:

Largely, contemporary livelihood within most sub-Saharan African nations is not bereft of socio-cultural dynamics derived partly from patriarchal norms or expectations that underscore social relations in matters of politics, economy, religion, family and other institutions. It is difficult to treat lightly the reality of this livelihood in sprawling urban and dwindling rural areas in most part of Africa, Nigeria inclusive. The impact that this have for enacting a supposed social order of participation in knowledge and economic production is not little and the consequences of subjugating women oftentimes as the 'gendered' other, in cases where patriarchal arrangement wholesomely thrives demands a critical outlook. This discourse leaps from this understanding to engage the socio-cultural condition of gendered economy and knowledge production in Nigeria; substantiated by the normative idea or understanding about women as subordinate 'other' in rural and urban spaces. Adopting a critical and conceptual approach, the discourse advances a liberal individualist perspective over radical standpoint theories and stresses the need to re-enact a neutral gender norm that proffers equitable capacity for all persons to participate in knowledge and economic production within the African space.