ISAPS

Conference Program and Abstracts

International Society for African Philosophy and Studies (ISAPS)
20th Annual Conference

Conference theme: Re-thinking African Identity and Culture
20th Annual Conference of the ISAPS

International Society for African Philosophy and Studies
30th to 31st May, 2014,

Department of Philosophy, in conjunction with the Fort Hare Institute for Social and Economic Research (FHISER), Fort Hare University, Eastern Cape, Chintsa, South Africa.
Conference organisers: Dr Rianna Oelofsen, Prof Leslie Bank, Dr Luvuyo Ntombana, Prof Charles Verharen & Motsamai Molefe.

Call for papers:

What is ‘Africa’, and who is ‘African’? How do identity and culture feature in the politics of Africa and its diasporas? Is there a role for ‘race’ in the understanding of African identity and culture? Is there a role for Steve Biko’s philosophy of ‘black consciousness’ in the current global political landscape, and if so, what is the role it should play? What is the relationship between different identities and oppressive relationships, and what is the best way of approaching emancipation in contexts where identity plays a core role in oppressive relationships, such as in oppressive relationships between different genders or races? What avenues are there to explore our mutuality and connectedness across these divides as captured by the politics of difference and oppression?
Through focusing on concepts such as ‘black consciousness’ which have their roots in Africa, (yet engaging with these concepts critically) this conference is meant as a project of decolonising the mind, and is meant to allow an avenue to continue to question how we can live and theorize in a world which structurally marginalizes Africa and its contributions. The conference invites papers discussing practical approaches to decolonising the mind through decolonising university curricula.

Programme

 

20th Annual Conference of the ISAPS
International Society for African Philosophy and Studies

Arrival: Thursday, 29 May, 2014
Conference: Friday, 30 May – Saturday, 31 May, 2014
Fort Hare Historical tour to Alice campus, 1 June 2014

 

Arrival: Thursday, 29 May, 2014

Delegates to arrive in Chintsa to be at the venue for the conference proceedings to start the next day.

17:00 ISAPS Executive meeting with local conference organisers


Conference: Friday, 30 – Saturday, 31 May, 2014

Venue: Crawfords, Chintsa (lunch and teas included in conference fee)

 

Friday:

8:30 – 9:00 Registration

9:00 Welcome by Heads of Philosophy – Prof A Olivier – and FHISER – Prof L Bank

9:15 Opening by the academic DVC – Prof Larry Obi

9:45 Presidential speech by president of ISAPS Prof J. Obi Oguejiofor

10:30 Morning Tea

11:00 Keynote address – Prof Michael Cloete (UNISA)

12:00 – 12:40 Session 1

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
Charles Verharen (Howard) <cverharen@howard.edu>

The Ethical Responsibilities of Universities to their Supporting Communities

Francis Etim (University of Uyo) <etimfrank@yahoo.com>

Black Consciousness, African Metaphysics, African Logic and Moral Relativism in Africa

Tendayi Marovah (UFS) <marovaht@gmail.com>

Using capability lenses to explore African identity(ies)

12:45 Lunch

13:45 – 14:25 Session 2

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
Ndumiso Dladla & Terblanche Delport (UNISA) <delpopt@unisa.ac.za>

Conquering Reason

Yaw A. Frimpong-Mansoh (Northern Kentucky University) <frimpongma1@nku.edu>

African Culture and Liberal Democratic Values

Gabriel E. Idang (University of Uyo) <gabrielidang@yahoo.com>

African Culture and Values: an appraisal

14:25 – 15:10 Session 3

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
Nimi Hoffmann (Rhodes University) <Nimi.Hoffmann@gmail.com>

Epistemic discrimination in postcolonial universities

Siphesihle Dumisa (UKZN & HSRC) <sdumisa@hsrc.ac.za>

Food for Thought: Assessing the Role of ‘Black Consciousness’ in the Politics of Food

Olusegun Morakinyo (University of Johannesburg) <olusegunmorakinyo99@gmail.com>

What is ‘African’ in African philosophy?

15:10 Afternoon tea

15:40 – 16:20 Session 4

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
Thabang Dladla (UJ) <dladlathabang@yahoo.com>

Exploring Ramon Grosfiguel’s account of a westernised university and moving towards Afrocentric education

Luvuyo Ntombana (UFH) <Lntombana@ufh.ac.za>

Between boys and men: Exploring possibilities for the ‘marriage’ between Medical Male Circumcision and Male Initiation

Abraham Olivier (UFH) <aolivier@ufh.ac.za>

Inverse Identities

16:25 – 17:05 Session 5

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
Rianna Oelofsen (UFH) <Moelofsen@ufh.ac.za>

Decolonization of the African mind and intellectual landscape.

Barnabas M.T. Chikonyora (University of Venda) <bchikonyora@yahoo.co.uk>

Continuity and change: the social, cultural, economic and political significance of globalisation in the emergence of new approaches to development in Africa

Benda Hofmeyr (University of Pretoria) <Benda.hofmeyr@up.ac.za>

Levinas and the Postcolonial: Re-thinking Identity and Difference

17: 10 ISAPS Annual General Meeting

18:15 Evening: Conference Dinner (Delegates who are staying at the venue will have their dinner included in their accommodation fee. The dinner cost for delegates who are not staying at Crawford’s is ZAR165. Please pay Crawford’s directly on the night.)

 

Saturday:

9:00 – 9:40 Session 6

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
Panel Discussion: Identity, Postcoloniality, Language: Decolonizing the Humanities through Curriculum Reform. A series of case studies from the University of Cape Town

Kathy Luckett (UCT) <kathy.luckett@uct.ac.za>

Towards a Theoretical Framework for Decolonizing Humanities Curricula

Louise du Toit (Stellenbosch University) <louisedt@sun.ac.za>

Nkrumah and Irigaray: the emancipatory potential of overcoming the mind-body problem

Msekeli Ngquba (UNISA) <Ngqubm@unisa.ac.za >

Africanism and the quest for an identity

9:45 – 10:25 Session 7

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
Panel Discussion: Identity, Postcoloniality, Language: Decolonizing the Humanities through Curriculum Reform. A series of case studies from the University of Cape Town

Shannon Morreira (UCT) <Shannon.morreira@uct.ac.za>

Critical Reflection on Disciplinary Practice in the Humanities: Anthropology and Education Development

Mbangu Anicet Muyingi (North-West University) <anicetmbangu@gmail.com>

The Reconstruction of African Identity and Culture in the 21st Century

Teresa Connor (UFH) <Tconnor@ufh.ac.za>

Applied Anthropology and the Dangers of Governmentality: an Exploration of Research Methodology

10:30 Morning Tea

11:00 Jason van Niekerk (UP): Introducing the Critical African Philosophy Project

11:15 – 11:55 Session 8

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
Panel Discussion: Identity, Postcoloniality, Language: Decolonizing the Humanities through Curriculum Reform. A series of case studies from the University of Cape Town

Ellen Hurst and Shannon Morreira (UCT) <Shannon.morreira@uct.ac.za>

Towards a Pedagogy of Engagement – Validating Students’ Voices in Higher Education

Peter Bisong Bisong & Asira E. Asira (University of Calabar) <pbbisong@yahoo.com>

African Philosophy and the Challenge of Ethnocentric Commitment

Ephraim Ikegbu & Jonathan Chimakonam (University of Calabar) <jonathansphilosophy@gmail.com>

Globalization vs. Ibuanyidanda Philosophy: confronting the instinctual friction between the self and the other

12:00 – 12:40 Session 9

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
Anke Graness (University of Vienna) <anke.graness@univie.ac.at>

Writing the History of Philosophy: The marginalization of traditions or how does a canon emerge?

Dr. Ngozi Ezenwa-Ohaeto (Nnamdi Azikiwe University) <nezenwaohaeto@gmail.com>

Fighting Patriarchy in African culture through children’s literature

John Lamola (University of Pretoria) <jlamola@mweb.co.za>

Senghor’s proto-globalism: a critical account

12:45 Lunch

14:00 – 14:40 Session 10

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
Edwin Etieyibo (Wits) <Edwin.Etieyibo@wits.ac.za>

Cultural Imperialism and African Philosophy

Aina Bayo (Olabisi Onabanjo University) <bayo_kofo@yahoo.com>

Punitive Justice and the Crisis of Cultural Identity in Post-colonial Yoruba Society

Sally Matthews (Rhodes) <s.matthews@ru.ac.za>

Shifting White Identities in South Africa: White Africanness and the Achievement of Racial Justice

14:45 – 15:25 Session 11

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
Jason van Niekerk (University of Pretoria) <Jason.vanNiekerk@up.ac.za>

Ubuntu and Homophobia

Charles C. Nweke & Jude I. Onebunne (Nnamdi Azikiwe University) <nkesun2002@yahoo.com>

African Identity: the Nature-Culture Perspective

Matthew McIlhenny <matthew.mcilhenny@gmail.com>

African Identity Through an Amazonian lens

15:30 Afternoon tea

16:00 – 16:40 Session 12

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3
Leslie Bank (Fort Hare Institute for Social and Economic Research)

Contesting Coastal Whiteness: Race, Landscape and the City

John S. Sanni (Arrupe College Jesuit School of Philosophy and Humanities) <sodjohnsan@yahoo.com>

Religion: A new struggle for African Identity

 

Sunday

Fort Hare Historical tour to Alice campus, 1 June 2014

8:00 Transport delegates from Chintsa to Alice campus.

10:00 Tea

10:30 Welcome to campus

11:00 Campus Tour which explains the historical legacy of Fort Hare.

12:00 Lunch (packs to be made available) Marimba band and poetry to be performed while we eat our lunch.

13:00 Viewing of documentary “Miners Shot Down” (plus Q&A session with documentary film makers) on the Marikana massacre.

15:00 Transport back to East London / Chintsa

 

Abstracts

Aina Bayo (Olabisi Onabanjo University)
<bayo_kofo@yahoo.com>
Punitive Justice and the Crisis of Cultural Identity in Post-colonial Yoruba Society

A challenge confronting the administration of punitive justice in post-colonial Yoruba society is the damaged culture engendered by legal pluralism and the competing utilitarian and retributivist theories of punishment. Though, these concepts justify a cost-effective means to certain independently identifiable goods but failed to account for some elements necessary for an adequate conception of punishment such as proportional gravitation of punishment and the aversion to punishing the innocent. Thus the traditional Yoruba identity is subservient to these formal laws and rules leaving behind a bastardized legal consciousness and a somewhat completely new paradigm. The study, therefore, examined punitive justice within the Yoruba culture in order to revamp her lost identity within the polity. The study employed both conceptual and constructive methods of philosophy. The punitive justice within Yoruba culture transcends formal legalism in western penology. It provides for a coherent interconnection among social structure, law and belief system towards the certitude and trust- making for harmonious human well-being. It reconciles the offender with the victim and community at large. Also, justice is dispensed with in time against the prolonged abuse of court proceedings. More so, it advances a creative and flexible human activity, whereby human beings are amenable to change and deserve integration into the community. Social order is enhanced by punitive justice with Yoruba jurisprudence. Therefore, it is recommended that this is incorporated into adjudicatory practice in contemporary legal system.

Leslie Bank (Fort Hare Institute for Social and Economic Research)
<lbank@ufh.ac.za>
Contesting Coastal Whiteness: Race, Landscape and the City

The aim of this paper is explore how coastal whiteness evolved and asserted itself on the urban landscape of East London as a city. In the paper I attempt to define and explore different beach and coastal cultures and show how they are premised on different principles and values. The approach I adopt is broadly historical and draws inspiration from recent analyses of whiteness, landscape and belonging in southern Africa. The blackening of East London as a city is clearly not merely a political process, where new faces take over city hall or those who were once excluded now have access to the city space, it is a cultural process where the spaces and landscapes of the city are transformed through social practice that reflect new uses and meanings. Middle class whites who used to depreciate East London by calling it ‘slummies’, which implied a loss of civility (a fall from grace) , now speak of “Butterworth-by-the-sea”, suggesting that East London it is now a black city (yet implying that it is parochial, ethnic and dirty). The black middle class, on the other hand, is more upbeat about the future of “emonti” (the river mouth city) seeing it as regional cultural hub, a place of beauty and increasing affluence, despite ongoing deindustrialization and poverty. This paper focuses on the shoreline of the city, on race relations and the changing beach cultures. It is historical and ethnographic rather than philosophical.
Peter Bisong Bisong (University of Calabar) & Asira E. Asira (University of Calabar)
<pbbisong@yahoo.com>
African Philosophy and the Challenge of Ethnocentric commitment
The question of whether or not African Philosophy exists is no longer a question that plagues the minds of African philosophers. It is now taken for granted that Africa has philosophy. The most pressing issue now is how to develop African philosophy to rank at par with philosophies of other regions. Asouzu believes that philosophy is inhibited in Africa, because of the divisive mindset with which Africans pursue philosophy – a mindset after Aristotle. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle bifurcated being into substance and accidents, and exalted substance above accidents. He also bifurcated humans into, the wise and the less wise. The wise are those that know the cause of a thing. They are superior to the less wise. In the same wise, he divided science into two categories – the master science (Metaphysics) and the ancillary science (other subjects). Once again the master science is placed above the ancillary science. This divisive mindset Asouzu believes percolated through the West due to the influence of Aristotle on the Western thought. The West in their turn transported it to Africa through socialization, indoctrination and education. This is understandable considering the fact, that the West is a continent of colonizers. Thus, imbued with this type of bifurcating mindset, Africans now approach reality through the divisive mindset of superiority – inferiority. Most of their works in literature, politics and history are geared towards showing how superior African heritages are to their western counterpart. This is noticeable in works like African Socialism and Ujamaa of Nyerere, Consciencism of Nkrumah, Pan Africanism of Nkrumah and Dubois, Neo-Welfarism of Azikiwe etc. These works and most others are directed against Western intervention and exploitation and thus are ethnocentric in character. Thus, most works in Africa carries the ‘we-them’ mentality. They paint an idyllic image of an African and contrast it with that of the Westerner. This is the spirit that drives the projecting of communalism as something uniquely African in contrast to the individualism of the West. It is the same spirit behind the fronting of three-valued logic as a uniquely African logic in contradistinction with two-valued logic that is supposedly uniquely Western. It is the spirit behind the projecting of transcendentalism as a distinctive African method. This divisive and bifurcating mindset, Asouzu argues pushes the mind to ethnocentric commitment. This kind of spirit in which philosophy is pursued in Africa, Asouzu argues inhibits the mind from properly grasping reality and thereby making it unable to advance knowledge. This work therefore, presents Asouzu’s proposed solution to this drawback in African philosophy, with the intent of charting a better course for African philosophy and thereby enhancing the speedy growth of philosophy in Africa.

Barnabas M. T. Chikonyora (University of Venda)
<bchikonyora@yahoo.co.uk>
Continuity and change: the social, cultural, economic and political significance of globalization in the emergence of new approaches to development in Africa
The paper seeks to explore, argue and show that, as a process of transformation and development, globalisation, should involve not only discontinuities but also continuities with the past. The paper will present some African perspectives on social, cultural, economic and political aspects of life and how these aspects have been altered or replaced as a result of Eurocentricism and globalisation. It will also focus on the developmental prospects and challenges in Africa and the role of its institutions of higher learning in crafting courses (curriculum) and programmes to decolonise the mind. To do this the paper will present two main underlying arguments. The first being that, the current state of affairs in Africa, especially the relational problem between traditional ways of life and modernisation, is a direct result of historical, cultural and economic subjugation and marginalization of its people and their indigenous knowledge systems. The second argument is that, if left unchecked, globalisation, which has been noticeable since the onset of colonisation, will become the single most important driver of transformation as it is fast overtaking tradition in influencing worldviews, attitudes and the life choices that African people make in order to advance themselves.

Teresa K. Connor (University of Fort Hare, Fort Hare Institute for Social and Economic Research)
<Tconnor@ufh.ac.za>
Applied Anthropology and the dangers of governmentality: an exploration of research methodology
This article debates the disadvantages and opportunities attached to applied research (or applied anthropology, consultancy, or social assessment) within the institutions and processes of the modern neoliberal state. Located within political anthropology and philosophy, the article uses insights gained from applied projects during the last 15 years in order to assess the challenges of governmentality and what Lefebvre and Foucault have referred to as ‘governable spaces’, in South Africa. The article uses examples of active research projects where the state has tried to classify, select and count certain social lifeworlds (including housing and residential landscapes), in order to motivate a particular type of development intervention. In the process, a certain type of citizen is produced, packaged into the mould of the ‘poor’ or classified as a ‘squatter’, and where research report can be dangerously predictable and unethical. Given the practical and applied nature of anthropology, the challenge is to try and reach a compromise between the exclusionary politics of complex academic debates, and the dangers of qualification and superficiality of applied projects. The key question is how research can produce knowledge that is at once practical, professional and ultimately valuable for bridging the gap between universities, activists and policy makers in different societies and arenas.

Ndumiso Dladla & Terblanche Delport (University of South Africa)
<dladln@unisa.ac.za> <delpopt@unisa.ac.za>
Conquering Reason
Towards the end of last year a permanent member of staff at the University of Pretoria’s philosophy department published an article in which she upheld certain racial stereotypes; this year has already seen a violent racially motivated attack at the University of the Free-State as well as the University of the North-West almost being put under administration after it was revealed 1st year students were taught a Heil Hitler salute during orientation. It would seem that amongst those things not so new in the new South Africa are Universities’ overall cultural chauvinism and its racist foundations that, by and large, continue uninterrupted. This chauvinism and racism is exhibited proudly in the form of curricula and epistemological paradigms that continually act in a denialist fashion: denial of anything that is not European or Anglo-American thought. In this paper we will attempt to analyse philosophy’s complicity in this racism and cultural chauvinism. In order to engage this discussion, two recent articles written on the history of philosophy in South Africa, one by PM More and one by P Duvenage, will be read against some of the current teaching of philosophy in South African universities. We want to argue that philosophy’s overall silence on, and complicity in, the history of apartheid and colonialism in South Africa is by and large still continuing today through the choice of syllabus that treats African thought as but a footnote, at best, in the intellectual history of philosophy.

Thabang Dladla (University of Johannesburg)
< dladlathabang@yahoo.com >
Exploring Ramon Grosfiguel’s account of a westernised university and moving towards Afrocentric education.
In his essay “The Structure of Knowledge in Westernized Universities: Epistemic Racism/Sexism and the Four Genocides/Epistemicides of the Long 16th Century” Ramon Grosfiguel explores the structure and historical origins of knowledge in westernised universities. In that essay Grosfiguel exposes the structures of such knowledges as white and heterosexist. According to Grosfiguel “the epistemic privilege of Western Man in Westernized Universities’ structures of knowledge, is the result of four genocides/epistemicides in the long 16th century (against Jewish and Muslim origin population in the conquest of Al-Andalus, against indigenous people in the conquest of the Americas, against Africans kidnapped and enslaved in the Americas and against women burned alive, accused of being witches in Europe).” This paper discusses Grosfiguel’s account of a “westernised university” and calls for an Afrocentric education. The Notion of an Afrocentric education is inspired by the works of Molefi Kete Asante who in his book “The Afrocentric idea” asserts that he is fascinated by the mannerism in which most of his colleagues have written theory and engaged in the social sciences “in relationship with the African people”. For Asante these colleagues have often made the assumption that their “objectivity”, which Asante labels as a collection of subjectivity of European culture, “should be the measure by which the world marches”. This is to say that they believe that the Eurocentric perspective is the only way to look at the world. Asante asserts that he has “seldom fallen in step, insisting that there are other ways in which to experience phenomena rather than viewing them from a Eurocentric vantage point”. According to Asante his work constitutes a radical critique of Eurocentricism that constitutes itself as “a universal view in the fields of intercultural communication, rhetoric, philosophy, linguistics, psychology, education, anthropology and history”

Louise du Toit (Stellenbosch University)
<louisedt@sun.ac.za>
Nkrumah and Irigaray: the emancipatory potential of overcoming the mind-body problem
In this paper I would place contemporary French philosopher Luce Irigaray’s feminist philosophy in discussion with Kwame Nkrumah’s conception of ‘consciencism’. Both thinkers critically analyse the mind-body or idealism-materialism dichotomy at the basis of western philosophy and show how central this ontology has been to the justification of violence towards racial, sexual and other others. Both also struggle with the question of how to oppose the violence of the western tradition without repeating its logic. Irigaray calls western metaphysics a ‘sacrificial symbolic order’ wherein identity cannot be attained without the sacrifice of something or someone designated as excessive, marginal or deviant. While most postmodern western philosophers (including most postmodern feminists) see such a sacrifice in the service of identity as inevitable, Irigaray is noteworthy in that she sees the symbolic order which renders it inevitable as contingent and historically specific. She is notorious for seeking alternatives to the western sacrificial order, and this is where she shows a clear affinity with Nkrumah’s ‘consciencism’, which is the view that traditional African thought provides an attractive and viable alternative to western metaphysics. Like him, Irigaray goes in search of ways of thinking that would transcend the mind-body hierarchical dichotomy. In his search for an alternative, Nkrumah uses a term such as ‘non-atheistic materialism’ while Irigaray in turn speaks of a ‘sensible transcendental’. They also obviously share a dedication to an emancipatory politics associated with their respective attempts to overcome this basic dichotomy. My paper will explore the most salient commonalities in the projects of these two thinkers, an exploration which promises to be mutually illuminating, and it will critically draw out the strengths and weaknesses of their respective positions. After bringing together the emancipatory projects of an anti-colonial and a feminist thinker, I would also consider whether and how this debate speaks to the central concerns of African feminist or African womanist thinkers.

Siphesihle Dumisa (UKZN & HSRC)
<sdumisa@hsrc.ac.za>
Food for Thought: Assessing the Role of ‘Black Consciousness’ in the Politics of Food
This paper assesses the role of black consciousness in the inherent link between identity, culture, and food. The African Union has declared 2014 as the ‘Year of Agriculture’ with the aim of transforming Africa’s agriculture by harnessing opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development. I critically discuss the politics and policies of food in post-apartheid South Africa by examining the popular food choices of citizens across several Southern African countries. Literature suggests that ‘you are what you eat’ – not only with regards to physical attributes but also with regards to mental emancipation. When comparing the eating habits of black South Africans against those of other Africans, South Africans tend to consume indigenous food less frequently. This leads to the assumption they identify less with being ‘African’. Various household and income surveys in South Africa have also shown increasing vulnerability to food insecurity in poorer households; whilst there have also been studies which show low nutritional value in the food that is commonly consumed. In spite of the huge role that could be played by promoting indigenous vegetables (i.e. morogo¬/imifino) – which are mostly more affordable to purchase or cultivate and have high nutritional content – there is no coherent effort from the South African government to restore the pride of black South Africans in their indigenous food. The paper tracks the evolving curriculum at the University of KwaZulu-Natal towards being more inclusive of indigenous produce through introducing modern techniques to the farming practices of indigenous small scale farmers. The hypothesis is that the small and restricted informal economy in South Africa, together with the entrenched rural urban divide leads to a lack of easy access to indigenous African vegetables to a significant population of potential consumers. I argue that promoting the popular consumption of imifino and increasing access to it in the formal markets may prove to be one of the practical approaches to decolonising the minds of black South Africans 20 years since the demise of apartheid.

Edwin Etieyibo (University of the Witwatersrand)
<edwin.etieyibo@wits.ac.za>
Cultural Imperialism and African Philosophy
Is the precolonial African capable of original and rational thought? Can she philosophize or produce works worthy of being considered philosophy? Is there an African philosophy? Is philosophy the product of a universal human reason or an expression of the culture which produces it? As soon as one immediately begins to contemplate some of these questions one finds himself or herself confronted with many and sundry issues of cultural imperialism and its nuanced complexities. The African, as it were, has large eyes peering at her, being viewed by the other, judged by the world, and asked quizzically to prove her humanity. These are some of the issues that W.E. Burghardt Du Bios takes up in his 1903 seminar and classic book, The Souls of Black Folk. In this paper I discuss the question of cultural imperialism as it relates to African philosophy. Du Bois’ book sets the tone for my analysis of cultural imperialism, which proceeds from his claim that the black race is handicapped by a double-consciousness. I focus my discussion on the debate between the universalists and the particularists schools of philosophy by exploring the idea of the existence of African philosophy. In making a case for the existence of African philosophy I gesture towards some possible alternative non-Western or “African” ways of doing philosophy.

Francis Etim (University of Uyo)
<etimfrank@yahoo.com>
Black Consciousness, African Metaphysics, African Logic and Moral Relativism in Africa
The endemic nature of moral decadence in post-Apartheid South Africa and the rest of the African nations appears a rape of the vision of Biko’s dream of a “glittering prize” and “a more human face”. The moral situation is appalling manifesting in various ramifications: – corruption, embezzlement, child abuse, avarice, distrust, rape, kidnapping, politically motivated assassinations, abuse of public office, and so on. What is even more worrisome and of concern to any reflective mind is their persistence and pervasive nature despite all efforts at minimizing not to talk of eradicating it. Is it that enough has not been done? Is it that immorality is co-natural with the Africans? This paper is of the view that though moral decadence is not restricted to Africa and that though immorality is not co-natural with Africans, however, African ontology and African logic of harmonious monism and integrativeness have somehow contributed to the seeming apathy to public and private moral rectitude in Africa which makes it appears as if the African society is permissive. African logic, for instance, sometimes permits “manipulation” and “understanding” based on status to maintain existential ontological harmony. This explains why different strokes are sometimes applied to different folks provided the harmony is not unsettled. Remedy then requires a complementary ontology in the spirit of African
ontology of complementarity.

Ngozi Ezenwa-Ohaeto (Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka)
<nezenwaohaeto@gmail.com>
Fighting Patriarchy in African culture through children’s literature
This study tries to investigate the prevalent patriarchal practices in African culture and how it could be curbed via children’s literature. Patriarchy is generally accepted and widely practiced in Africa. Its tenets have remained unwritten but have been actively regulating people’s lives and transactions in Africa over decades. These tenets which, over years, have directly and indirectly impacted negatively on the women fold and indirectly on the upholders of the practice and also on the socio-economic upliftment of African society in general have been effectively transferred, informally, to posterity as part of African culture. Children’s literature has always provided opportunity of response, appreciation and internalization of one’s cultural heritage as well as the nature, growth and development of the children’s self-perception, which result to the internal urge of transferring same to posterity. This study, therefore, postulates that children’s literature is a veritable tool for expunging negative patriarchal practices in Africa.

Yaw A. Frimpong-Mansoh (Northern Kentucky University)
<frimpongma1@nku.edu>
African Culture and Liberal Democratic Values
A dominant theme in post-colonial African political thought has been a call for the reconstruction of modern Africa on the foundation of African indigenous cultural values and institutions. This hope for a distinctive and authentic African cultural identity was an underlying ideology of the negritude movement, and in recent years it has taken on the identities of the philosophy of Ubuntu and communitarianism. African distinctive identity, defined by cultural values which truly reflect, capture and represent authentic African beliefs, are defended as the normative guiding framework by which social reforms and policies ought to be formulated and pursued. This essay raises skepticism about this nationalistic theme of African political thought. It argues that there is nothing inherently sacred or virtuous about cultural identity and cultural values that requires their eternal preservation. Such predominant belief among African philosophical anthropologists falsely presupposes the existence and possibility of a pristine phenomenon of cultural purity and authenticity. It fundamentally fails to recognize the dynamic nature of culture, especially given the globalized nature of contemporary world. Political stability and social growth in Africa, as I argue, need fundamental cultural reforms and cultural liberalization. Democratization efforts should be all-inclusive, and the processes must involve radical transformation and liberalization, and in some cases the abolition, of many existing cultural institutions and practices. Particular examples include facial tribal markings, female genital mutilation (FGM) and some types of puberty rites. Successful elections and transfer of political powers are not sufficient for the cultivation and consolidation of liberal democratization. Measuring the success of liberal democratization efforts solely in terms of successful elections commits the “fallacy of electoralism”—it shortsightedly privileges elections above all other equally important processes and aspects of liberal democratization.
To bolster my argument, I focus on two particular widespread feminine cultural rituals in Africa: female puberty rites and female genital mutilations (FGM). Cultural practices of these forms are rooted in old-fashioned superstitious and patriarchal beliefs which have no significance, and should have no place, in the modern liberal world. Some forms of puberty rites, such as the exposure of the initiates’ breasts, should offend the moral sensibility of contemporary Africans. They violate the humanistic liberal principles of gender equality and respect of human dignity. Such ritualistic cultural practices are also an abuse of human rights and the freedom of the girls involved. They also involve a maltreatment and abuse of children. Generally, the fact that these cultural rituals are still predominantly practiced in this twenty-first century enlightened world raises questions about the sincerity and seriousness of Africa’s belief in, and efforts toward, liberal democratic values such as respect of privacy rights, liberty, informed consent, and gender equality. I pursue these arguments from the perspective of a Rawlsian-African political thought. I dismiss potential charges that this Rawlsian Africanized approach entails intellectual imperialism, a sort of intellectual adultery.

Anke Graness (University of Vienna)
<anke.graness@univie.ac.at>
Writing the History of Philosophy: The marginalization of traditions or how does a canon emerge?
African philosophy as a subject of academic learning, investigation and debate (both in Africa and abroad) is still a young discipline, although philosophical thinking (concepts, manuscripts, books, and philosophers) can be traced back until Ancient Egypt and Ethiopia. However, a comprehensive history of philosophy in Sub-Saharan Africa is still in the making. The characterization of Africa’s pre-colonial cultures and societies as “a-historical” (Hegel) or “primitive” was one of the main obstacles for an unprejudiced and solid research in history of philosophy in that area of the world. Until recently questions like “Is there philosophy in Africa?” have not stopped to be asked and still give evidence of the deep influence of stereotypes produced on Africa during the last centuries.
While Asian philosophical traditions and schools or Arabian philosophy are included to a certain degree into the curricula of institutes of philosophy, there are almost no courses on philosophy in Africa. Africa’s philosophy traditions and trends are still largely excluded from the curricula in philosophy, as well as in African studies. Whereas the curricula of regional studies like Sinology, Indology or European Studies include by default introductory courses on philosophies of the region concerned, African Studies do not. Until today philosophers or philosophical concepts from Africa are mainly excluded from the canon of philosophy.
This leads to the following questions: What is a canon of philosophy and how does it emerge? Who deserves to be regarded as canonical figures and why? What are the (external and internal) mechanisms of exclusion and inclusion in the case of intellectual traditions?
The proposed paper tries to answer some of these questions with a focus on the discipline “History of Philosophy”: its functions, its targets, and the importance for philosophy as a university subject. The paper explores what it means today to write and re-write a history of philosophy in Africa – and of the world. And it discusses the consequences for our university curricula’s.

Nimi Hoffmann (Rhodes University)
<Nimi.Hoffmann@gmail.com>
Epistemic discrimination in postcolonial universities
Social epistemologists postulate that the word of women may be trusted less than that of men in a sexist society, or the word of black people may be trusted less than that of white people in a racist society. However, unlike discrimination in the work-place, this phenomenon of epistemic discrimination has received little empirical attention.
An experiment I conducted in India, South Africa and England aimed to test whether gender and institutional affiliation matter to individuals’ trust in an intellectual work. In the experiment, institutional and gender signals were randomly allocated and uncorrelated with the quality of an intellectual work.
The main finding was that participants in India and South Africa were considerably less likely to trust an intellectual work if they believed it was authored at a postcolonial institution (either in India or South Africa). There was no statistically significant evidence that participants were responsive to gender signals.
Should we take this as evidence of epistemic discrimination based on affiliation to postcolonial institutions? After all, unlike gender and race-based discrimination, it seems reasonable to believe that institutional reputations largely reflect their epistemic quality.
I argue that the issue of underlying quality is irrelevant as to whether a practice counts as epistemic discrimination. What really matters is whether group characteristics are used in such a way that they reflect and entrench systemic inequality. This means that discrimination can be based on cogent inductive reasoning, but remain morally problematic. “Institutional discrimination” might well be an example of this. Unlike gender and race-based discrimination though, the use of institutional reputations critically enables contemporary scholarship. Institutional discrimination appears to be both indispensable and morally questionable.

Benda Hofmeyr (University of Pretoria)
<Benda.hofmeyr@up.ac.za>
Levinas and the Postcolonial: Re-thinking Identity and Difference
To what extent can Levinas’s thought be useful to, engage with, and perhaps learn from, non-Western and postcolonial ethical frameworks and conceptions of identity and difference? Such an encounter seems critical in light of the fact that all of Levinas’s philosophical labours have relentlessly been dedicated to uncovering the violence at the very heart of Western philosophy – the reductive tendency of the Self to reduce, subject or ‘colonize’ any and every form of otherness it comes into contact with. Within the canon of contemporary Western philosophy, his has been one of the most prominent (if not the first) voice(s) to initiate the ethical turn towards the Other, insisting upon the inherent responsibility we bear towards others. When considering the possibility of such a critical encounter, however, one runs up against a number of challenges.
Thinking Levinas in an African (or postcolonial) context is problematic to say the very least. He has been guilty of a number of explicitly racist remarks, his work is undeniably Eurocentric even as it proposes to critique the totality characteristic of the history of Western philosophy with the infinity of the ethical encounter. Moreover, his Eurocentrism is premised on a very narrow conception of Europe: for him, “Europe is the Bible and the Greeks” (ITN, 119-121), which excludes the constitutive violence of Europe the ‘empire’.
Moreover, Levinas’s conceptualization of alterity allows no distinction from, comparison to or derivation from identity. Radical difference is unphenomenolizable; it does not appear, cannot be compared to or distinguished from other others. For Levinas, alterity does not follow from differences; differences issue from alterity. What scope, then, is there for a productive interchange between ethical metaphysics and postcolonial celebrations of differences (e.g. Negritude, Black consciousness; the fact of blackness, etc.)?
This question is further complicated by the fact that these discourses and the entire postcolonial ‘oeuvre’ as such are political discourses expressly concerned with the politics of difference and oppression. Levinas’s philosophy, on the other hand, is largely a-political. He showed very little interest in world affairs apart from his preoccupation with the Holocaust, and the fate of the Jewish people. There remains a recalcitrant gap between ethics and politics in his thought even though he insists that ethics necessarily entails politics: the ethical encounter between the self and the Other always also implicates other others. Yet the singularizing asymmetric responsibility that cannot be evaded or delegated that issues from the face (i.e. ethics, in Levinas’s sense) reintroduces thought, knowledge, and judgment (i.e. ontology) – having to compare the imcomparable appeals of countless others competing for the limited resources of the self.
In this paper, I shall critically consider the possibility of such a critical encounter between Levinas and non-Western and postcolonial discourses on the self, the other and their relation by addressing the challenges outlined above. In short, can Levinas’s ethical metaphysics contribute to decolonizing the mind or does his racism, the eurocentric and a-political nature of his thought, in conjunction with his insistence upon an abstract Alterity render it an instance of the structural violence responsible for the marginalization of difference(s) and/or otherness?

Ellen Hurst, and Shannon Morreira, (Humanities EDU, University of Cape Town)
<Ellen.hurst@uct.ac.za> <Shannon.morreira@uct.ac.za>
Towards a pedagogy of engagement – validating students’ voices in higher education
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o has connected the use of African languages to African identity and community belonging (1996) and he argues that African writers should write and philosophise in their own African languages (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o 2013). He himself has started to use African languages in his academic publications, for example in the recent article ‘Tongue and Pen: a challenge to philosophers from Africa’ (published in the Journal of African Cultural Studies, representing the first publication of articles in African languages in a mainstream journal). He argues here that philosophizing in African languages is a ‘way by which Africa can add originality to the wealth of human knowledge’, due to ‘worldview’ that language carries. He also argues that the use of African languages in philosophical discussions and writing will develop the languages themselves.
In a related vein, we find arguments that the use of home languages for concept development can be of benefit to students (Paxton 2009). The African language-speaking students in Paxton’s study negotiated the meanings of unfamiliar terms and concepts in their home languages, which she argued broadened and enriched their understanding.
The use of African languages in academic spaces therefore can be considered a site for contesting dominant discourses and Eurocentrism in the academy. In this research, we have begun to allow African languages a space in our curriculum, in keeping with these theorisations. We discuss two sets of research data drawn from an undergraduate extended degree programme in the Humanities. The first data is a set of language histories written by the students in their first week at university. These histories uncover the multilingual backgrounds and identities of the class, and challenge concepts of homogenous groups of Xhosa speakers or Zulu speakers, for instance. The histories allow students to challenge the predetermined notions of identity as often conflated with race or language in the South African context, and redefine themselves in a reflexive and productive manner. We examine how validating these new definitions of selfhood can allow academics to break away from the deficit view of education as a one-way transfer of imposed ideas and academic mores, to grasp the conscious choices made by our students at every stage. The language histories were followed up at the end of the course by a set of university histories wherein students describe how their language, and their identities, have changed since arriving in the English-dominant UCT space.
The second moment we describe is the use of multilingual glossaries in class to help students embed crucial concepts in their first year studies. This project required students to translate key concepts, as identified by lecturers, into African languages that they spoke and to then share their translations with the class through an online forum. Students were thus able to view multiple definitions and interpretations in a number of languages, and to grapple with core concepts in languages other than English.
Both these moments respond to the work of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and other authors in their consideration of the benefits of allowing African languages to become part of the academic language space. The research feeds into a project, currently under development by the Humanities EDU at UCT, which focuses on the ‘decolonisation’ of the Humanities curriculum.

Gabriel E. Idang (University of Uyo)
<gabrielidang@yahoo.com>
African culture and values: an appraisal
The main objective of this paper is to evaluate African culture and values. Since culture is often seen to be the sum-total of the peculiarities shared by a people, a people’s values can also be seen as part of their culture. In discussing about African culture and values, we are not presupposing that all African societies have the same explanations for events, the same language, mode of dressing, and so on. Rather, there are underlying similarities shared by African societies which, when contrasted with other cultures, reveal a wide gap of difference. In this paper, we try to show the relevance of African cultures and values to the cotemporary society. But we argue that these values should be critically assessed, and those found to be inimical to our well-being and wholistic development should be dropped. In this way, African culture and values can be revaluated, their relevance established and sustained in order to give credence to authentic African identity.

Ephraim Ahamefula Ikegbu & Jonathan Okeke Chimakonam (University of Calabar)
<jonathansphilosophy@gmail.com>
Globalization vs. Ibuanyidanda Philosophy: confronting the instinctual friction between the self and the other
In the Dictionary of Social Sciences (Calhoun 2002) conceives globalization as “A catch-all term for the expansion of diverse forms of economic, political, and cultural activity beyond national borders”. For Bauman (1999) globalization has to do with “time-space compression”. Put differently, Roland Robertson (cited in Arnason 1990) sees it as “the crystallization of the entire world as a single place” while John Lechte (2003), defines it from the point of connectedness suggested in Marshall McLuhan’s 1962 phrase “the global village”, which literally regards globalization as an emerging global consciousness. But all this can be faulted for ignoring the conditions for proper set-up of globalization if the literally meaning of the term itself is anything to go by. Thus, Ibuanyidanda emerges as the nemesis of globalization as generally conceived in the above. What is meant here is that as a theory in intercultural philosophy (Solomon 2013) ibuanyidanda which harps on the inter-dependence, inter-connectedness and mutual complementarity that necessarily (ought to/must) exist between individuals, people and cultures of the world exposes the challenge of the “self and the other” which naturally emerges when globalization is conceived and practiced merely as neutralizing boundaries and expanding views without specifying and insisting that this has to be a mutual exercise. Ibuanyidanda philosophy through its principle of ihe mkpuchi anya reveals that men and cultures are always instinctually at war with one another against the realization of this global exchanges, though unwittingly (Asouzu 2007). This instinctual friction could be epistemological, ethical or ontological thus impairing men’s capacity to ‘know’, to ‘judge’ and to ‘will’ with regards to the other and vice versa (Asouzu 2013). What is suggested here is the often unpremeditated drive to uphold those persons, cultures or things that are familiar to us, that are ours or that are in tune with our whims and caprices and to negate those that are unfamiliar, strange or foreign to us. This is because ihe mkpuchi anya which is an inconspicuous accessory condition conceals from us this ambivalent tension-laden character of our existential conditions which almost always compels us to elevate the self over and above the other unbeknownst to us. Thus even in our most sincere attempts to reach out to the other, we often end up not exchanging but imposing the self on the other. We provide little room for the other to thrive whilst actively working to extinguish it and firmly enthrone the self. Our knowledge and understanding of the other become grounded on our most times faulty assumptions; it is on the basis of such faulty assumptions that we make ethical judgments of the other and its ontological determinations. We shall in this paper seek to unravel the challenges which global expansion as it is practiced pose to understanding of the self and the other through the mechanism of Ibuanyidanda philosophy. Hence, as globalization in practice tends to promote egoism which James Rachels (1986) views as elevation of self interests over those of the other. It has been championed as that according to which all human actions are motivated by selfish desires (Feinberg 1993). The counter to egoism is altruism—a view that human actions ought to be motivated by a balance of self and the interest of the other as suggested by Rachels (1986) and Ross (1930). Our goal shall be to show that globalization has not been as inclusivist (altruistic) in practice as it suggests in theory with specific focus on the ontological implications. Thus proper globalization from the perspective of ibuanyidanda may have many and in most cases, non-uniform definitions but all authors have to agree on one point i.e. that it involves primarily relationships and interactions of mutual benefit between individuals, people and cultures at various ends of the globe as against a lopsided expansion and imposition of the self (egoism).

M. John Lamola (University of Pretoria)
<jlamola@mweb.co.za>
Senghor’s proto-globalism: a critical account
A reflection on the crisis and challenges of African identity within the context of modernity and globalisation offers an opportunity for a fresh perspective on the work of Leopold Sedar Senghor, the most prolific of thinkers representative of the philosophy of negritude. A critical assessment of the assimilationism that became characteristic of francophone African political philosophy and practice in the 1960s, which Senghor’s work embodied, sheds significant insights on the modalities of being an African in the current post-industrial world. The paper offers a critical account of Senghor’s thought as a presage of the challenge which assertions of anti-colonial Africanity face in the light of a globalising human culture.

Kathy Luckett, (Humanities EDU, University of Cape Town)
<kathy.luckett@uct.ac.za>
Towards a Theoretical Framework for Decolonizing Humanities Curricula
By way of introduction, this paper will report on significant findings of a student opinion survey run by the Humanities Education Development Unit, University of Cape Town late in 2013. The target population was black, mostly 1st generation students on the Extended BA and BSocSc Degrees. The survey elicited respondent opinion on how students believe their home backgrounds help or hinder academic success, the extent of their sense of belonging at UCT and how they have experienced academic failure. The paper will summarize what kinds of identities these students adopt and the (mostly) negative impact that the institution is having on these.
The rest of the paper will lay out a conceptual framework for a curriculum reform research project being undertaken by the Humanities EDU, UCT.
The findings of qualitative research such that reported on above, have led us to question the terms (and underlying concept) of academic or education development, widely used in South African higher education since the early 1980s. The modernist notion of development will be critiqued from a decolonial perspective that asserts an inseparable link between colonialism and modernity. The paper will show how the delinking of the two has allowed educational projects such as academic/ education development and other discourses of ‘transformation’ to construct the colonized as an outsider of the modern; thus allowing ex-colonizers (such as myself) to become the agents of development. The decolonial perspective can explain some of the findings in our data, by showing how the conceptual severance of modernity from colonialism displaces the ‘colonial wound’ onto the colonized, so that it is they who bear the burden, not only of cultural loss, but also of being in need of development.
Instead of developing our students, we have initiated a research project to interrogate the curricula of the Humanities Extended Degrees. As a result, we hope to self-consciously re-locate ourselves discursively so that addressing the ‘colonial wound’ becomes a joint political and intellectual project between ourselves, the academics we work with and our students.
We will begin by analysing received curricula – both in terms of overt content and also in terms of the moral and social order that is assumed (the hidden curriculum) and the subject positions that are constructed for ‘ideal knowers’. The conceptual tools we use for the analysis of curriculum documentation are drawn from Maton’s (2014) Legitimation Code Theory (LCT, Specialization). Maton argues that the majority of the Humanities disciplines are ‘knower codes’ because their knowledge claims are legitimated primarily by the subjectivities of the knower via a demonstration of certain dispositions, attributes and qualities. He argues that this is done on the basis of demonstrating certain ‘legitimate gazes’. We will use discourse analysis to show what gazes are legitimated by selected undergraduate courses. We hypothesize that traditional Humanities curricula were based on a ‘cultivated gaze’, founded on the ideals and assumptions of the Enlightenment project. The gaze of traditional curricula’s ‘ideal knower’ will be contrasted with the ‘social gazes’, (the view that knowledge is legitimated by the social position of its knower), that students typically bring with them to the academy.
Once we have analysed what hierarchies of knowers set up by the selected curricula, we will be in a position to re-work the latter, by inserting new content and by demonstrating deconstructive moves. The plan is to first recognise and legitimate the identities that novice students bring and thereafter to deconstruct the given identities of both the oppressed and the oppressor. We will draw on post-colonial and decolonial theory to map and name a revised ‘gaze’ that critiques dominant canons and enlarges the discursive terrain to accommodate a range of South African ‘habituses’. The paper will discuss the tension entailed in both recognizing the different social gazes endorsed by a politics of difference and enabling students to acquire ‘disciplined’ ways of talking reading and writing so that they can participate critically in global conversations.

Tendayi Marovah (University of the Free State: Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development (CRHED)
<marovaht@gmail.com>
Using capability lenses to explore African identity(ies)
Identity in general and more specifically African identity are concepts that are complex and contested. As a result, many positions have been postured to explain what constitutes identity and African identity in particular. The positions vary from mere personal identities to complex group identities. These are explained by geographical positioning of what constitutes for example Africanness; explanations guided by race theories as well as pan African positions which foreground black consciousness. In a world whose geographical, political, social and economic boundaries have been drawn and continue to be redrawn; a world in which migration is prevalent and cultural exchange has become rapid and race has been questioned as a guide in understanding human interaction and identity, there is need to interrogate and continue to seek more insights in what constitutes identity and African identity in particular.
This conceptual paper contributes towards the expansion of literature on the understanding of identity, African identity and citizenship education in a global context. Literature on these concepts is quite vast and complex. Drawing from the capabilities approach (CA) and the philosophy of Ubuntu, the paper argues that Identity and African identity speak to both sameness and difference. The two are fluid and multifaceted rather than monolithic and rigid although there may be enduring qualities which can be found in what constitutes African identity. The CA is particularly useful for emphasising the importance of heterogeneity, agency and public deliberation as well as human freedoms, opportunities and choices to be and to do what they value. In this paper’s context it is important to allow for the freedom, opportunities and choices for individuals to deliberate on the type of identity or African identity that they value. Ubuntu is significant since it is an African philosophy which may help us to understand the world view in which ‘Africans’ operate. Ubuntu values in this instance are used to claim human capabilities and enduring qualities of Africanness useful for a better understanding of African identity.
The paper explains that mapping African identity in global terms, defines African identity in terms of global citizenship with both rigid and fluid attributes. It advances citizenship education for critical democratic global citizenship as a necessary lever for understanding and fostering an expansive view of African identity.

Sally Matthews (Rhodes University)
<s.matthews@ru.ac.za>
Shifting White Identities in South Africa: White Africanness and the Achievement of Racial Justice
The end of apartheid predictably caused something of an identity crisis for white South Africans. The sense of uncertainty about what it means to be white has led to much public debate about whiteness in South Africa, as well as a growing body of literature on whites in post-apartheid South Africa. One of the many responses to this need to rethink white identity has been the claim by some that white South Africans can be considered to be African or ought to begin to think of themselves as being African. I argue in this paper that whites’ assertion of an African identity does not necessarily assist in the achievement of racial justice, but that some kind of shift in white identity is required in order for whites to be able to contribute to rather than hinder the achievement of a racially just South Africa. In making this argument, the paper brings contemporary discussions on race and whiteness, and in particular discussions about racial eliminativism, to bear on the question of whether or not white South Africans may rightly claim an African identity.

Matthew McIlhenny
<matthew.mcilhenny@gmail.com>
African Identity through an Amazonian Lens
Keeping with the conference theme of ‘re-thinking African identity and culture’, the purpose of this paper is to look at African identity through the lens of ethnographic research. The part that may be surprising is how the ethnographic research takes place with groups from the Amazon Basin. The goal in making this comparison between the Amazon and Africa is to confront the problem of determining how to approach emancipation in contexts where identity plays a core role in oppressive relationships. The problem is central to Nigerian philospher Emmanuel Eze’s work On Reason,where he argues that rationality—defined here as critical thinking– can only be fully understood from within the context of inequality. The work is a project in decolonizing the mind, defined as freeing human thought to the greatest possible avenues to explore mutuality and connectedness. His work succeeded in describing why rationality must be understood from within the context of cultural oppressive relationships, but it fails in explaining how to approach emancipation from within the context of identity. Therefore, the methodology applied in this paper is to inform his philosophical work on African identity with ethnographical research from the Amazon. Eduardo Kohn’s (2013) How Forests Think offers a theoretical framework to check Eze’s philosophical generalizations, and in doing so gives us more tools to approach emancipation from within the context of identity. The conclusion is that both Eze’s and Kohn’s works are moral practices that empower us to use identity for emancipation. The question(s) this paper generates for further research is can Kohn’s theories be corroborated by ethnographic work within the African continent. And to what extent is the African identity applicable to those individuals that do not (consciously) identify as Africans?

Olusegun Morakinyo (University of Johannesburg)
<olusegunmorakinyo99@gmail.com>
What is ‘African’ in African philosophy?
This paper interrogates the notion of ‘African’ in African philosophy, through a critique of the geographic, racial, ethnic, ideological, historical, cultural and epistemic meanings of ‘African’ in African philosophy. It re-examines the question of what is it for African philosophy to be authentically philosophical and authentically ‘African’ and argues that the notion of ‘African’ in African philosophy need not be an essentialized category or a field of ethnographic study, but a site of philosophical engagement with the notions of ‘African’ assumed and imprinted in the debates of African philosophy. The paper argues that what defines philosophy as ‘African’ is all and neither of these projected notions of ‘African’, but the questions of ‘African’ and the ‘African’ questions of/in philosophy the debates engenders. It therefore challenges dominant assumptions of ‘African’ in African philosophy and scholarship, as Black, Sub-Saharan, Ethnic and defined by the history of racial slavery and colonisation. The paper concludes with a projection and articulation of a notion of ‘African’ in African philosophy as an ideological-epistemic geo-cultural political strategic (position) identity defined by the commitment to the ethics of social justice for the historical accident of racial dehumanization.
Shannon Morreira, (Humanities EDU, University of Cape Town)
<Shannon.morreira@uct.ac.za>
Critical Reflection on Disciplinary Practice in the Humanities: Anthropology and Education Development
Despite numerous attempts to ‘transform’ the university in the post-Apartheid era, the racial categories that Apartheid attempted to naturalise remain strong indicators of the likelihood of a student’s success or failure in a South African university. The percentage of black students who graduate is much lower than the percentage of white students who graduate, while the percentage of black students who drop out is three times the percentage of white students who drop out (Council on Higher Education, 2012). In my view, such a situation constitutes a continuation of the structural violence of the pre 1994 era. Simply put, as academics and as institutions we are (despite the best of intentions) all too frequently failing the students who we seek to educate and, subsequently, failing in our role as proponents of positive postcolonial change.
In this paper I argue that the situation in South African universities today requires that we, as academics, ask some hard questions of ourselves and of our disciplines in response to the continuation of inequality of outcomes in education. The central questions we need to consider, I would argue, are the extent to which there is a need to ‘decolonise’ the disciplinary content we teach and/or the ways in which we teach it, and the ways in which we could do this; and the extent to which the ideal knower constructed by the pedagogic discourse within each of our disciplines is, in fact, a result of the colonial endeavor. In other words, what colonial subject-positions and historicities are invoked in the world-views we attempt to engender in our students in the Humanities? How could we change this?
Drawing on an analysis of the fields of anthropology and education ‘development’, both of which have colonial histories and seek to develop a particular kind of knower, I consider some of the tools that are available to us as academics that we could use to critically reflect on our disciplines in order to practically engage with the curricula we set for our students. It is essential that universities of the (marginalized) South develop such theoretical tools that are emergent from the contexts in which we work, and thus locally relevant.

Mbangu Anicet Muyingi (North-West University)
<anicetmbangu@gmail.com>
The reconstruction of African Identity and culture in the 21st Century.
This paper examines African identity and culture as being reconstructed in the 21st century as featured in the politics of Africa and its Diasporas. Underpinned by post-modern and social theories, the paper notes that in order to avoid the potential danger of discrimination, and exploitation, Africans as a people should redouble their efforts to redefine and create a new African identity that will accommodate the diversity of people living in Africa. This can be accomplished by integrating Steve Biko’s black consciousness approach which, as a way of reconstructing African identity and culture, redefines the concept of who is African.

Msekeli Ngquba (University of South Africa)
<Ngqubm@unisa.ac.za>
Africanism and the quest for an identity
My presentation will be examining the notion of Africanism and in the process try to establish the definition of who is an “African” and what is “Africa”. This will be done by looking into the literature on Africanism such P.E.H. Hair (1967) “Africanism: the Freetown contribution” in the Journal of Modern African Studies, K.K. Prah (1997) “Africanism and the South African Transition” in Social Dynamics: A Journal of African Studies, N. Masilela (2003) “New Negro Modernity and the New African Identity” a paper presented to The Black Atlantic: literatures, histories cultures forum in Zurich in January 2003, N. Masilela “Foreword: New Africanism in a Post-New African Age?”, M. Mamdani “Conceptualising state and civil society relations: Towards a methodological critique of contemporary Africanism” in C. Auroi (ed.) (1993) The role of the State in Development processes.
The method of doing philosophy in general and African philosophy in particular is, firstly, an independent and critical scrutiny of the available literature, secondly (and most importantly) independent, critical and creative reflection, and thirdly, discussions and consultations with colleagues in which ideas are tested and arguments and the systematics of the approach is critically evaluated.
In this presentation, I hope I would establish an explanation of what is Africa, and most importantly, at the end I would be able to establish who can be bestowed an identity of being African.

Luvuyo Ntombana (Fort Hare Institute of Social and Economic Research)
<LNtombana@ufh.ac.za>
Between boys and men: Exploring possibilities for the ‘marriage’ between Medical Male Circumcision and Male Initiation
This presentation advocates for the integration of Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) into the initiation practice. The contention is that the main reason for the escalating number of deaths and other complications in the initiation/traditional circumcision in the Eastern Cape is the use of the same intervention strategies while expecting to get different results. This presentation calls for an urgent change in how Xhosa male initiation/traditional circumcision is practised. The discussion focuses on the concept of culture change and draws terms of reference on the values of ubuntu. The main thesis is that the discussion on culture change should be embedded in the most important value of ubuntu which prioritises the wellbeing and existence of the society. All cultures exist for the welfare of the people and not vice versa and that the morals and values of every culture must maintain this wellbeing. So it does not help to argue against change when a lot of lives are lost every year. The implication therefore is that considering the wellbeing of people is more important that adhering to the orthodoxy of culture. When a cultural practice or tradition violates the wellbeing of the people then it must be questioned and effective ways must be sought to modify its practise. The call of this presentation is that male initiation can no longer be practised in the same way; a drastic change must be introduced even if it involves MMC so as to save this practice from being a ‘ritual of death’.

Charles C. Nweke and Jude I. Onebunne (Nnamdi Azikiwe University)
<nkesun2002@yahoo.com>
African Identity: the nature-culture perspective
Within the modern/contemporary era, African identity has been a recurrent theme in all domains of African studies, serving as a major intellectual concern of many African scholars. Debates on the reality of African Philosophy are anchored on the questions surrounding African identity giving rise to thoughts and contents of that philosophy. Despite the volumes already generated on the theme, the controversial circumstances that engendered the subject of African identity makes its intellectual concern sustainable and almost inexhaustible. The question of African identity is basically an ontological question of the reality of Africa cum the being of an African. The series of infiltration and appraisals of Africa by foreign elements tend to plunge the continent into crises of identity. In addition to the various approaches to the subject, the nature-culture perspective presents the argument that if culture is ideally the product of a people’s nature, African culture represents the objective manifestation of the Africanity of the continent and its organic/holistic content. Such frame of thought embellished with philosophic tools provides further locus for more feasible and stable definition of African identity as the holistic nature and character of being Africa.

Rianna Oelofsen (University of Fort Hare)
<moelofsen@ufh.ac.za>
Decolonization of the African mind and intellectual landscape.
What is African philosophy? Bruce Janz captures what I believe to be a central feature of African philosophy when he claims that at core it draws and creates concepts from the place of ‘Africa’. As a result, I believe African philosophy can be instrumental in the decolonization of the African mind. This is possible through providing an alternative framework for knowledge, which ‘de-centers’ the assumed (Western) centers of knowledge.
Pedro Tabensky argues that African philosophy has a distinctive aim, namely the “restitution of health, social and personal.” I believe that this can be related to empowerment through articulating philosophical positions which take the context and cultural particularities of African places into account, and thereby reclaim the intellectual space denied to Africa during the racist project of colonialism. This can also be articulated as a decolonization of the mind. What and how we learn influences who we become. The concepts that we are introduced to at university helps us categorise and understand the world in particular ways – the concepts we are introduced to provides a lens for understanding the world, which influences how we view ourselves and the world. In this paper I will argue that the development of concepts with their roots in Africa has the prospect of working towards the decolonization of the mind and intellectual landscape, and that therefore African philosophy ought to focus on such projects.

Abraham Olivier (University of Fort Hare)
<Aolivier@ufh.ac.za>
Inverse identity
Consider the case of Anton Wilhelm Amo. Born in Ghana and reared in Germany by a German prince, Amo became a philosophy professor lecturing and writing on topics of Western Philosophy such as Descartes’ notion of the body-mind problem. Wiredu claims that although Amo left Ghana when he was only 3 years old to be brought up as a German, his philosophical position was influenced by his indigenous roots. Amo returned to Ghana after more than forty years to explore his African roots. Could he find them? What could he find? Was he German or Ghanaian? Was he, as Wiredu contends, an African philosopher? Amo’s is no rare case in our time of globalisation. In recent debates on issues of identity such as interculturality, multiculturality, transculturality, hybrid identity, and transworld identity, we find all kinds of claims ranging from intercultural heterogeneousness, to multicultural assimilation and transcultural hybridisation. In these debates, the focus remains on the subject of identity: the person whose identity is at stake given changing contexts. I shall introduce the concept of inverse identity by shifting the focus from the subject of identity to the meaning that objects have in shaping identity. In this way I shall try to develop an answer to a case such as Amo’s.

Panel Discussion: Identity, Postcoloniality, Language: Decolonizing the Humanities through Curriculum Reform. A series of case studies from the University of Cape Town
Panel description:
Kapp and Bangeni (2009:588) note of English-speaking South African universities that “many of the dominant institutional academic and cultural practices are still ‘white’, English, middle class and male (even Oxbridge) in character.” This is problematic given the diversity of our student body. Identity is highly salient to the process of learning: what happens to students’ involvement in the learning process where the identities they enter the university with are not legitimated in the spaces in which they study? In this panel, members of the Humanities Education Development Unit at the University of Cape Town present the ways in which we have attempted and are attempting to grapple with the need for curriculum reform in the Humanities in light of this reality. Disheartened by the rhetoric of ‘transformation’ and ‘development’ in higher education which seems to come with little real change, we have initiated a research project to interrogate the curricula of the Humanities Extended Degrees; and have started to implement new pedagogies in our own courses. In this panel we present three perspectives – theoretical, disciplinary and pedagogical – with which we have grappled with issues of identity and learning at a postcolonial African university.
Presenters and Paper titles (Abstracts also included in this booklet):
• Kathy Luckett. ‘ Towards a Theoretical Framework for Decolonizing Humanities Curricula.’
• Shannon Morreira. ‘Critical Reflection on Disciplinary Practice in the Humanities: A Call for Action’
• Ellen Hurst, Aditi Hunma and Shannon Morreira ‘Towards a Pedagogy of Engagement – Validating Students’ Voices in Higher Education’.

John S. Sanni (Arrupe College)
<sodjohnsan@yahoo.com>
Religion: A New Struggle for African Identity
Recent events in several African states have raised concern regarding the place of religion in determining culture and identity. Religion, as understood by most scholars, plays a holistic role in determining a person’s understanding of his/her origin and purpose. This definition would be true of African traditional religion as of those religions that have their origin outside the continent. When I refer to religion in this paper, I am thinking of Monica Toft’s account that requires “belief in supernatural being or beings”; belief in a transcendent reality; distinction between the sacred and the profane; and a code of conduct for a temporal community that shares a world view.
This definition implies that religion encapsulates an individual’s experience and that his or her identity is inseparable from religious affiliations. A problem arises in the African context when we consider religions that have been imported into Africa and have assumed an active role in society. Because they are imported they could encourage their adherents to conceive their reality in terms which only the new religion had made available to them and thus be regarded as another face of colonialism. Their adherents would no longer see themselves from perspectives formed from their indigenous cultural, social and economic experiences unmediated by foreign ideology. The imported religions therefore have the potential to provide people with an identity that has not been fashioned by their historical experience. In their social identity they are primarily part of a religion rather than part of a larger collective with its history and complex of political, social and economic ideologies or affiliations. The question, “Who am I?” becomes dangerously simplified if it is answered by proclaiming a religious affiliation.
My motive is to differentiate between “identity as origin” and “identity as religion” and to prioritise the wider commonality that is inherent in identity as origin. I will also consider the need, as will be argued, to empty the mind of its religious conditionings that may serve to exclude other sources of identity derived from collective histories and collective experiences. Religion which directs our attention to a transcendental teleology serves to distract us from our contingent reality. Religion sometimes, if not always, erodes our identity. It is, however, impossible to theorise contemporary Africa and ignore the presence and influence of imported religions. Africa is multicultural and sites of that multiculturalism include both imported and indigenous religions.
A theoretical approach as to how we can resist imported religions’ oversimplification of African identity is provided by revisiting Charles Taylor’s notion of ‘multiculturalism and the politics of recognition’. I will argue that there is a need to rethink the significance of religious diversity and an ontology that recognizes the Other as part of Oneself. For Taylor, the politics of recognition proceeds from the proposition that an ontological ethical notion of the Other as has a relational-existential identity.
I will argue that Taylor’s politics of recognition provide a possible solution to how Africans can live their identities and theorize themselves in a world where Africa’s own contributions to cultural and social organization are frequently devalued and only the authority of imported religions is seen to have significance. Recognition is certainly not the only issue when referring to religion and its effect on identity but, it presents a new dimension to the reality of African identity in the sense that it attempts to understand the pragmatic significance of African Islam, African Christianity, and African traditional religions, as shared experiences, by proffering a positive understanding the negative implications they continue to have on African identity.
The general thrust of this paper is to argue that religion creates divisions that do not address the real issues that divide African nations. These divisions have to be addressed, but this does not mean that religion serves no purpose in collective life. I will indicate how Christianity, Islam and African traditional religions can appropriate inculturation so that they become a central part of African ontology that coheres rather than divides. I will also present some positives for adopting particular religious perspectives: for instance Christianity encourages us to look respectfully at the sacredness of all humanity even when considering others who do not share its religious doctrines; Islam invites us to strive for a nation that is the ‘house of Allah’; and African Traditional Religion(s) encourages communitarian society amidst individual traditional religious affiliation and uniqueness.

Jason van Niekerk (University of Pretoria)
<Jason.vanNiekerk@up.ac.za>
Ubuntu and Homophobia
Homophobic rhetoric is currently predominant in African public debates on homosexuality, offered as justification for the aggressive policing of heterosexist gender norms from anti-gay laws to the “corrective” rape of lesbian women. While much recent fervour in this regard is rightly traced to political opportunism, malign colonial-era laws, and the neo-colonial spread of Western evangelical programmes, articulations of the African Humanist value-claims glossed as ubuntu seem also to lend support to such homophobia.
In its popular form, this is expressed as the argument that non-heterosexual practices and lifestyles are alien to a traditional African context, and wrong by virtue of deviating from it. Underpinning this normative traditionalism is a novel and philosophically appealing account of estrangement from one’s community as a moral harm. Coupled with an understanding that a person’s way of being is properly the concern of her community, the normative traditionalist reading of this claim entails an obligation by the community to pressure those who deviate back into alignment with the community’s sense of itself. This normative traditionalist reading is not the only plausible entailment however, and faces a number of difficulties: it seems disproportionately oppressive; it produces the quasi-relativist conclusion that homosexuality is wrong if a community consider it so, but has no default moral value to justify such a position; and it is in tension with ubuntu’s call for persons to develop their humanity through community-oriented virtues such as forbearance and friendliness.
In this paper, I argue that a coherent non-heterosexist response to the problem of communal estrangement as a moral harm exists, and is more philosophically attractive for avoiding the difficulties raised by heterosexist accounts.

Charles C. Verharen, (Howard University)
<cverharen@howard.edu>
The Ethical Responsibilities of Universities to their Supporting Communities
If the primary justification for universities as research institutions is the solution of unsolved problems, then the problems of a university’s supporting communities should take first priority. Until this moment in technology’s development, the quality and extent of education constituted the unbreachable divide between those who controlled their lives and those who could not. Inspired by the inaugural missions of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) throughout the United States, W.E.B. Du Bois believed that HBCUs have as their greatest and most difficult mission spearheading the drive toward universal university education. In his own time, Du Bois’ dream of a universal university education could only be a faint hope. In our time, however, we have acquired the technology to make that dream come true. That technology coupled with Du Bois’ dream must be critical to Africana universities’ discharge of their ethical responsibilities to their supporting communities. The internet coupled with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is the first step toward Du Bois’ vision. However, MOOCs unsupported by intensive communities of learning incur massive drop-out rates. The paper proposes that universities begin to take responsibility for life-long learning for their graduates. Coupled with a university-wide commitment to service learning, life-long learning programs will enable university alumni to form communities of learning among the populations that support the very existence of universities. Alumni commitment to life-long learning for their community members can be the bridge to realizing Du Bois’ vision of universal university education. The paper proposes four steps as the foundation for this bridge. Critical to university and alumni contributions to re-thinking African identity will be the inclusion of curricular material specific to the cultures of communities selected for university outreach.

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