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Abby Wolf

Ghanaian philosopher, educator, novelist, and poet, was born in London on 8 May 1954. His full name is Kwame Anthony Akroma-Ampim Kusi Appiah. Appiah’s father was the prominent Ghanaian lawyer and politician, Joseph Emmanuel Appiah, who in Ghana served as a member of Parliament, an ambassador, and president of the Ghana Bar Association. His mother was the English novelist and children’s writer, Peggy Cripps Appiah. Appiah was born in London while his father was a law student there, but the family returned to Ghana when he was a baby. Appiah’s paternal and maternal forebears were politically distinguished in Ghana and England, respectively. His uncle, Otumfuo Nana Poku Ware II, succeeded his great-uncle, Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, as king of Ashanti in 1970 His mother s father was Sir Stafford Cripps Britain s chancellor of the Exchequer who was involved in negotiating the terms of Indian independence ...

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Abdul-Rasheed Na'Allah

Appiah, Ghanaian philosopher, teacher, and author, was born 8 May 1954 in London to Joseph Emmanuel Appiah, then a law student who later became a famous Ghanaian lawyer and politician, and Peggy Appiah (née Cripps), a writer. He attended elementary school and early high school in Kumasi, Ghana. He completed his high school in Britain and later attended Clare College, Cambridge, from 1972 to 1975, when he received his Bachelor’s degree with First Class honors. He got his doctoral degree from Cambridge University in 1982 in the field of analytical philosophy. He then accepted a position to teach at Yale University in 1982. His scholarly and research interests include African and African American intellectual history and literary studies, ethics, and philosophy of mind and language.

Appiah has authored numerous scholarly works, among them his seminal book, In My Father’s House with focuses that include the African ...

Article

Richard Newman

“My first memories,” writes Kwame Anthony Appiah in the preface to In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (1992 are of a place called Mbrom a small neighborhood in Kumasi capital of Asante as that kingdom turned from being part of the British Gold Coast colony to being a region of the Republic of Ghana Raised in a country at the dawn of its independence Appiah developed an early consciousness that straddled not only the colonial and the postcolonial but also as the son of a Ghanaian father and an English mother the African and the European Not surprisingly questions of identity culture and race occupy a central role in Appiah s work as a philosopher and writer Anthony Appiah was born in London England After attending elementary school in Kumasi he was sent back to England to live with his grandmother and attend boarding ...

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Abiola F. Irele

Jean-Godefroy Bidima’s primary training is in philosophy, but his published work extends over a wide range that includes not only the related field of cultural anthropology, but also literature and art history. His first published work, titled Théorie critique et modernité africaine (1993 based on his doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne draws on theoretical concepts and methodological approaches from these various disciplines in a sustained reflection on the implications of the African encounter with Europe and the process of transition in African society set in motion by this encounter in the specific historical and cultural contexts in which it occurred The reference to critical theory associated with the Frankfurt school may suggest a simple application of the models and ideas of this school In fact Bidima reaches back to a tradition of German sociology including notably the work of Karl Marx and Max Weber on which the ...

Article

Jean Eudes Biem

Fabien Eboussi Boulaga was born on 17 January 1934, in Bafia, Cameroon. After graduating from high school with a degree in philosophy in 1955, he traveled to France and embraced Jesuit higher education until 1957. Then he successively obtained bachelor degrees in Letters, Philosophy, and Theology, a graduate degree in Ethnology and, in 1968, a doctorate degree in Philosophy at the University of Lyon II.

In 1969 he returned to Cameroon, teaching theology, organizing rural development groups, and conducting research in philosophy until the publication of La crise du Muntu in 1977. During that period, he was visiting lecturer in the Netherlands (Leiden, Groningen, Rotterdam, Tilburg), Nigeria (Major Seminary of Ibadan), the United States (Loyola College, Baltimore), and Zaire (Institut Canisius, Kinshasa). He also taught philosophy at the University of Abidjan, Ivory Coast (1978–1984) and the University of Yaounde (1984–1993 At ...

Article

Dior Konaté

Senegalese philosopher and university professor, was born on 24 May 1959 in Saint-Louis in Senegal and attended a local school, the Lycée Amet Fall. After passing with honors her baccalaureate in 1977 at the age of nineteen, Aminata Diaw left Senegal to pursue her studies in France. In 1978 she enrolled at the Lycée Paul Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence, a preparatory school, earning a diplôme d’études universitaires générales (DEUG 1) in philosophy. A year later, she left for another preparatory school, the Lycée Masséna in Nice to complete a DEUG 2 and a bachelor of arts degree both in philosophy before going to Nice, where she obtained a master’s degree in 1981 from the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis. Then Diaw completed her philosophical studies culminating in a postgraduate diploma (DEA) and a dissertation on the theory of conflicts in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s political thinking. In 1985 she was awarded a doctorate ...

Article

Efraim Barak

Egyptian intellectual, writer, reformer, and lecturer of philosophy, was born in Cairo on 13 February 1935. His father was a professional musician. In the early 1950s, he joined the Muslim Brothers and was active in student politics at the University of Cairo, where he studied philosophy. In 1956, after earning his BA, he moved to Paris, where he continued his studies at the Sorbonne. In 1966, after receiving his PhD in philosophy, he returned to Cairo where, after a year, he began teaching at the local university. At the same time, he translated into Arabic some of the works of Western philosophers, such as Spinoza, Lessing, and Sartre, and published several articles in the journals al-Katib (The Writer) and al-Fikr al-Muʿasi (Modern Thought).

From 1971 to 1975, Hanafi worked as an external lecturer at Temple University in Philadelphia. From 1979 to 1980 he supervised the ...

Article

Hannington Ochwada

Beninese philosopher and politician, was born at Treichville in the Ivory Coast. His father, Paul Hountondji, was a minister of the Methodist Church of Benin, and his mother, Marguerite Hountondji née Dovoédowas, was a housewife. Hountondji is the most prominent scholar in the debate on the contribution of Africa to the discipline of philosophy. He came to prominence in 1976 with the publication of the now- classic Sur “la philosophie africaine”: Critique de l’ethnophilosophie (African Philosophy: Myth and Reality). Hountondji received formal schooling at Savè et Sakété and Lycée Victor Ballot in Porto Novo before proceeding to Lycée Henri IV in the early 1960s for his high school education He was admitted to the École Normale Supérieure in Paris where he came under the tutelage of the great French Marxist theoretician Louis Althusser who also influenced his choice to study philosophy rather than the classics While in ...

Article

Justin J. Corfield

A prominent philosopher of the postcolonial era, and also a politician from Benin (formerly Dahomey), Paulin J. Hountondji was born in 1942 in Dahomey, in what was then French West Africa. He was educated at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, graduated in 1966, and remained in France to complete a thesis in 1970: L’idée de science dans les prolegoménes et la première recherche logique de Husserl (“The idea of science in the prolegomena and the first logical research of Husserl”). The work focused on Edmund Husserl (1859–1938 a great thinker in the Austro Hungarian Empire as well as in Germany where he became one of the founders of what has become known as phenomenology Hountondji taught for two years in France and then in the Republic of the Congo before becoming a lecturer at the National University of Benin in Cotonou Benin and later Professor ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

philosopher and intellectual, was born on 26 November 1932 in the town of Mikalayi in the Kasai Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although his family belonged to the Luba ethnic community, little is available about his parents. From 1940 to 1946 Mabika went to primary school at the Catholic mission at Mikalayi. He attended the Collège Saint Jean-Berchmans secondary school at Kamponde, also located in Kasai Province. After becoming well-grounded in the Classical Greek and Latin curriculum that he later would criticize so fiercely, Mabika enrolled at the Catholic university of Lovanium in 1954. He graduated in 1958 with degrees in psychological education and political science. Soon after completing his university education, he served as a trainee in Belgium as an assistant to the provincial government of Brabant and the Belgian interior ministry. In 1959 Mabika returned to his homeland where he served as a ...

Article

Nimrod  

Frieda Ekotto

Chadian poet, essayist, and philosopher, was born in the south of Chad on 7 December 1959. His given name is Nimrod Bena Djangrang. He grew up in Chad in a Protestant family, and in 1984 was forced into exile to escape the war, going first to the Ivory Coast and then to France in 1991. He currently resides in France, in Amiens, a city north of Paris. Nimrod received his PhD in philosophy in 1996 from the University of Amiens, France, and has received many prestigious prizes for his fiction, poetry, and philosophical writings. Nimrod was coeditor of the literary magazine Agotem with François Boddaert and Gaston Paul Effa, and from 1997 to 2000 he was the editor of the literary magazine Aleph, beth. In 2006 Nimrod was invited to the University of Michigan as a visiting professor in the department of romance languages and literature ...

Article

Rebecca Dirksen

was born in Marlique, a rural area of Pétionville, Haiti, on 17 October 1951, to Antoine Canova Parent, a tutor and the director of a rural school, and Silvanie Valemont, a merchant who produced and sold cornmeal and flour made from plantains and other tropical produce. Clark Parent attended primary and secondary school at the École Frère Jules de Pétionville until increasing vision impairment forced him to withdraw. Facing blindness while still a youth, he benefited from private tutors as he advanced in his studies. This physical handicap likely pushed him to develop his other senses and abilities to prodigious heights.

Clark Parent made his first guitar out of scrap materials at age 8 or 9, and, with his siblings, he would regularly entertain the neighborhood community with live music on Sunday afternoons. Self-taught as a musician, this childhood pastime would become something much more significant: in 1969 ...

Article

Steve Howard

Sudanese philosopher, author, and Islamic religious reform leader, was born in the Blue Nile town of Rufa’a in the Gezira, the heart of Sudan’s Sufi establishment. Mahmoud Muhammad Taha, known to his followers as “Ustadh Mahmoud” (“teacher”), was the founder of Sudan’s preindependence Republican Party, which he subsequently led to become a religious reform movement known as the Republican Brotherhood. The movement advocated a moderately progressive approach to the role of Islam in the contemporary world, with an emphasis on social equality, particularly for women in the context of rethinking sharia law. His best known book, The Second Message of Islam (1968; trans. Abdullahi An-Na’im, Syracuse, 1987), detailed his understanding of a modern conceptualization of Islam. He married Amna Lotfi and had a son (deceased) and two daughters, Asma and Somaya.

Taha s education was the religious then secular mix that became increasingly common as the British introduced formal schooling ...

Article

Justin J. Corfield

Marcien Towa is an important ideological Marxist who, like Amilcar Cabral, has done much to raise the profile of Marxist-Leninist interpretations of African thought and raise new ideas about ethnophilosophy not only in Africa but also among some of the African diaspora. Certainly some of Towa’s ideas are similar to those of the more high-profile Paulin J. Hountondji, but there are many crucial differences, as Hountondji has been able to detail in his work, African Philosophy: Myth and Reality, where, in the second edition, he contrasts their ideas in detail.

Towa was born in Cameroon in 1931 and was one of the major philosophers who did much to promote the study of African thought in the 1970s and 1980s. He became rector of the University of Yaoundé (formerly the Federal University of Yaoundé). Although he retired in 1997 he still keeps up contact with the university ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Cameroonian philosopher, was a towering figure of African philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century. He attended Catholic mission primary and secondary schools. Towa passed his baccalaureate examinations in 1955 at the Catholic seminary at Otélé, located not far from the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé.

Although Towa strongly considered becoming a priest in his adolescence, he became disillusioned with both Catholicism and any religious tradition as he commenced his study of European philosophy. From 1957 to 1959, Towa studied philosophy at the University of Caen in France, followed by further studies at the Sorbonne in Paris. He received his undergraduate degree in 1959, followed by a master’s degree in the same discipline in 1960. Towa wrote his master’s thesis on the European philosophers G. W. F. Hegel and Henri Bergson. After teaching at the University of Yaoundé from 1960 to 1961 Towa received a ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

academic and politician, was born on 16 April 1942 at the Swedish Protestant mission at Sundi-Lutete, located in the Bas-Congo Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (then the Belgian Congo). Wamba's father, Wamba, was known for both his fidelity to Protestant teachings and his willingness to challenge missionaries. His mother, also a Protestant, taught Wamba how to read. He grew up in the village of Zabanga, and in fact only visited Kinshasa for the first time in 1962. Wamba later recalled how his father managed to remain head of his Kikongo-speaking lineage despite his faith. Ultimately, Wamba distanced himself from Christianity and honored Kongo indigenous traditions. By his adolescent years Wamba became an advocate of the Alliance des Bakongo (ABAKO) political party, which called for Congolese independence and even the formation of a separate state for members of the Kongo ethnic community. In February 1960 Wamba ...

Article

Elizabeth Sanders Delwiche Engelhardt

and major figure in African American academia. Cornel West was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on 2 June 1953. His mother was an elementary school teacher who later became principal; his father, a civilian administrator in the air force. Both of his parents attended Fisk University. The family, including West's brother, Clifton, moved often. They eventually settled in a middle-class African American neighborhood in Sacramento, California. West graduated with a degree in Near Eastern languages and literature from Harvard University. He received his doctorate in philosophy from Princeton University. As director of Princeton's Afro-American Studies Program from 1988 to 1994, and as a professor in Harvard's Department of Afro-American Studies since 1994 West is one of several high profile scholars who have strengthened African American studies programs He has taught at America s most prestigious universities and has lectured at many others The blend of skills and ...

Article

Zachery R. Williams

African American philosopher, public intellectual, theologian, and activist. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cornel West was raised the grandson of a Baptist minister. The influences of the black church made an indelible impact on his emerging consciousness. In his youth, he obtained a reputation as highly intelligent and outspoken regarding matters of inequality.

As an adolescent growing up in Sacramento, California, West came under the influence of the Black Panther Party. It was during this crucial period in West's maturation that he acquired his abiding interest in democratic socialism. Early on, he came to view black progress through a global lens. Among the parallel influences on West were the writings and activities of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Wylie Evers. There was no doubt in the eyes of many that West was on his way to becoming a scholar-activist.

In 1970 ...

Article

Marian Aguiar

Cornel West was born in Oklahoma, a place once envisioned as a homeland for Native Americans displaced by European colonization, and for African Americans acting on the freedom promised by emancipation. The grandson of a Baptist minister, he was reared in the Baptist Church, and the church has remained a significant presence in his life since. Even as a child, West was articulate, outspoken, and politically engaged. In elementary school he convinced a group of his classmates to stop saluting the flag to protest the second-class citizenship afforded to African Americans.

West encountered the activities of the Black Panther Party while living in Sacramento, California. The Panthers informed his early thinking about democratic socialism and acquainted him with an internationalist vision for black enfranchisement. He was also inspired by the teachings of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, as well as by the music of John Coltrane ...

Article

Dipo Irele

Kwasi Wiredu, the Ghanaian philosopher, is one of the African philosophers who institutionalized postcolonial African philosophy as an academic field of study. His work covers all areas of the discipline—epistemology, metaphysics, and moral, political, and social philosophy. Several aspects of his work—his ideas about African ideology, truth, universals and particulars, and conceptual decolonization—will be discussed here.

In On an African Orientation in Philosophy Wiredu outlines his theoretical ideas making the distinction between folk philosophy which is communal and has been maintained in the oral traditions and an African thought system as a rational and critical reflection undertaken by individual African philosophers using modern logical and conceptual reflections Wiredu p viii Wiredu contends that philosophy is a critical examination of the most fundamental ideas and principles underlying our thought about human life and its environment natural and supernatural While folk philosophy does not adequately fulfill philosophy s function he nonetheless ...