Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya

Volume 4, Issue 2, December 2012

Odera Oruka Seventeen Years On

F. Ochieng-Odhiambo, C. Iteyo
Pages 169-184

Reason and Sagacity in Africa: Odera Oruka’s Contribution to Philosophy

Commentators on the four trends in contemporary African philosophy as enunciated by H. Odera Oruka frequently focus on the merits and demerits of each trend. However, many of them are obblivious to the way in which sagacity emancipates African philosophy by putting reason in its rightful pivotal position. This article argues that while the professional philosophers accused ethno-philosophers of doing disservice to African philosophy, they too stand accused of the same. This is due to the fact that both ethno-philosophy and professional philosophy function within the Western grid and therefore in the interest and service of the Western world. Philosophic sagacity, the article argues, discards the undesirable elements of ethno-philosophy and professional philosophy, while retaining desirable ones, namely, the Africanness in ethno-philosophy and the objectivity in professional philosophy. Because philosophic sagacity is African and objective, it is a desired tool of change in Africa. It can, for example, be used to address negative aspects of ethnicity that bedevil Africa. There lies the most important contribution by H. Odera Oruka to philosophy in general and African philosophy in particular.