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Filosofia Theoretica

Volume 4, Issue 1, 2015

David A. Oyedola
Pages 51-74

African Philosophy and the Search for an African Philosopher: The Demise of a Conflictual Discourse

There are contending reasons why the rationale, qualification and justification for becoming an African philosopher are still facing the problem of ontology. One reason, as Didier Kaphagawani posits, is premised on the challenges by anthropology and colonialism (1986, 86). Given Oruka, Makinde, Oladipo, Oke, and Hallen’s perception of these challenges, they concede that these challenges gave birth to the postcolonial search for a distinct African identity. On the one hand, D. A. Masolo’s submission that because “Africa cannot be re -subjectivised; hence, an identity which is peculiarly African is impossible” (1997, 283-285) downplays the concession of Kaphagawani, Oruka, et al. Moreover, there tend s to be agreement among certain philosophers who have devoted their time promoting Africana philosophy and culture-oriented discourse in Africa like Outlaw, Cabral, Fanon, Makinde, Oladipo, Oke, Hallen, Horton, etc., that “the Western discourse on Africa and the response to such discourse” (MASOLO 1994, 1) led many African philosophers like Nazombe, Okpewho, Tempels, Nkrumah, Nyerere, Senghor, Cesaire, Awolowo, Mandela, etc., to react using socio-political and academic means to establish a distinct African philosophical paradigm which craves for the re-subjectivisation of Africa. By implication, the response to the Western discourse on Africa, as Outlaw, et al, opine, lend credence to (a) the rationale for the qualification and justification to be an African philosopher; (b) the existence of African philosophy, and (c) the modality of doing philosophy in Africa. Nevertheless, the problem with Outlaw, et al, o n one hand, and D. A. Masolo, on the other, is the failure to recognize that any philosopher need not be of African descent or blood before he can make a meaningful contribution to address the problems facing the development of Africa in all spheres of lif e. This is possible in as much as there is an adequate understanding of the subject under discussion or what it means to do African philosophy. It is this failure or weakness that we shall explore in this essay.