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Reinhard Klein-Arendt

From the beginning of his career, Leo Viktor Frobenius (1873–1938), one of Germany’s most reknowned ethnologists and ethnographists, was an autodidact: there is no information that he ever studied, and he never held an academic degree such as an MA or PhD; he even did not graduate from high school and had no university entrance qualification. However, he submitted a doctoral thesis about secret societies in Africa to the University of Frankfurt—the thesis was rejected [the year not known—not in the records of the University]. Between 1904 and 1935, he was the leader of several large-scale expeditions to various regions in Africa and wrote abundantly as a freelance writer about his findings. In his books and articles, he coined a number of theories about the cultural history of Africa, some of them gaining much influence beyond German ethnology. In 1932 he became an honorary professor at ...

Article

Kasereka Kavwahirehi

Congolese poet, novelist, and philosopher, was born Valentin-Yves Mudimbe on 8 December 1941 in the Belgian Congo, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was the eldest child of a skilled worker employed by the Union Minière, who dreamed his son would ascend to the managerial ranks of the same company. However, the dream quickly faded, for, early on, the son was rubbing shoulders with Benedictine monks and chose to follow in their footsteps. Hence, following his studies at a Catholic minor seminary (1952–1958), he entered the Benedictine monastery of Gihindamuyaga in Rwanda. But just like his father’s ambitions for him, Mudimbe’s childhood dream of joining the Benedictine order evaporated. In fact, gripped by the climate of social tensions and decomposition he was witnessing—the rebellion in Congo, the civil war, and the hypocritical attitude of the Church in Rwanda—he renounced monastic life and decided in 1961 in ...

Article

Dismas A. Masolo

Valentin Yves Mudimbe was born in 1941 in the then- Belgian Congo, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was attracted to religious life as a young man and joined a Benedictine monastery to train for the priesthood before leaving to dedicate his life to understanding the forces that shaped—and prevented from developing strong indigenous roots—Africa’s own order of knowledge and self-management in history. He and his family left their native country to flee the dictatorship of President Mobutu in the early 1980s. He now teaches comparative literature at Duke University, having had stints at Haverford College and Stanford University. The universal acclaim of his The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge in 1988 made V Y Mudimbe an unrivaled universal authority in African humanities and social sciences The depth and breadth of Mudimbe s knowledge manifested in it is simply astounding Despite the ...