Volume 10, Issue 1, January/April 2021
Innocent I. Enweh
“The Community and the Individual – Revisiting the Relevance of Afro-Communism”
A Response to MF Asiegbu and AC Ajah
In a carefully and strongly worded critique, Asiegbu and Ajah have sought to close the dossier on Afro-communalist project by extolling solipsistic individualism which makes the individual an anarchic unit. Using the Okonkwo saga in Achebe’s [Things Fall Apart] to justify this type of individualism Asiegbu and Ajah bypassed, on the social plane, the ethical principle of individualism and Afro-communalism as forms of humanism. According to these critics, Afro-communalism is conformist, counter-productive, ambiguous, unsuccessful and irrelevant, and therefore should be discarded. The objective of this response is to show that an interpretative rehabilitation of Afro-communalism is opportune for elaborating a form of egalitarian society that would be responsive to the exigencies of African social-economic condition in a globalized world. The paper defends the view that while Afro-communalism in its ideological form was partly successful as an instrument for decolonization, its failure to achieve emancipation makes it an incomplete project. In its philosophical outfit, it appears despite its contributions, trapped in a vicious cycle because of the inability of some of its interpreters to provide it with a robust foundation. While as an ideology, it appropriated the economic relation model of scientific socialism, as a philosophy, it has under certain forms, continued to insist on the kinship/tribal relation model. Unfortunately, these two models lack the requisite institutional mechanisms for making Afro-communalism leverage on state or national life. Using descriptive and analytic methods, the paper argues that while Western individualist cultural attitude safeguarded by a contractual social relation model remains an authentic form of humanism, Afro-communalism in its traditional form needs, if it has to respond adequately to contemporary human experiences, to transit from the kinship/tribal model to amity of ethnic nationalities model.