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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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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

Kate Tuttle

Algerian-born Albert Camus was one of France’s most famous twentieth-century writers. Although his impoverished boyhood in colonial North Africa led him into left-wing politics as a youth, Camus later became known for his belief in existentialism, a strain of philosophy that argues that human beings are alone in a godless universe and must find meaning without the comfort of religion.

Camus was born in a small town in eastern Algeria. He was only a year old when his father, a farm laborer from France, died in battle in World War I (1914–1918). His mother moved the family to a working-class neighborhood in Algiers where Camus excelled in the local elementary and high schools As a teenager Camus contracted tuberculosis a disease that robbed him of his first love playing soccer and plagued him his entire life As a student at the University of Algiers he studied philosophy ...

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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

Françoise Vergès

writer, psychiatrist, and activist, was born on 20 July 1925 at Fort de France Martinique at the time a French colony The descendant of a slave of African origins Fanon was the fifth of eight children His parents who were of mixed heritage belonged to the urban middle class His father Félix Casimir Fanon worked in the French customs Eléanore Médélice his mother was a shopkeeper She was very proud of her Alsatian roots on an island where the hierarchy of color was very strong Both parents discouraged their children from speaking Creole and encouraged them to integrate into French culture Fanon studied at the elitist Lycée Schoelcher where he had Aimé Césaire as one of his teachers At eighteen Fanon joined the Free French army and was sent for army training to Algeria Fanon became disillusioned with the cause of freeing Europe from Nazism and wrote to his ...

Article

Richard Watts

Born in Fort-de-France on the island of Martinique into a conventional, bourgeois family, Frantz Fanon grew up with assimilationist values that encouraged him to reject his African heritage. This influence was countered by one of Fanon’s high school teachers, Aimé Césaire, who introduced Fanon to the philosophy of Négritude and taught him to embrace the aspects of self that the colonizer had previously forced him to reject. The encounter with Césaire proved to be a turning point in Fanon’s intellectual development. In 1940 following France s capitulation to the Germans in World War II the part of the French Navy that had declared its allegiance to the collaborationist Vichy regime began the occupation of Martinique As a result 5 000 French soldiers commandeered the resources of the island leaving the resident population to fend for itself It was in this context that Fanon first experienced the full force ...

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

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

Sanya Osha

John Mbiti’s work has been central to the debates within African religious thought and modern African philosophy. His corpus also has attracted the attention of many critics—a large number of whom have not been complimentary, which in turn has led to the establishment of an engaging tradition of founding discourses related to the modern African condition. John Mbiti’s prolific career as an academic produced several major texts: African Religions and Philosophy (1969), African Concepts of God (1970), and New Testament Eschatology in an African Background: A Study of the Encounter between New Testament Theology and African Traditional Concepts (1971 Mbiti s oeuvre has had an impact on both traditional religious thought and contemporary African philosophy and as such he has been criticized for not properly defining the boundaries and internal features of these two separate forms of discourse In major ways Mbiti dwells on ...

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

Hannington Ochwada

Henry Odera Oruka was born in Nyanza Province of western Kenya in 1944 and died in 1995. He received his undergraduate university education in Kenya. Oruka pursued his graduate education at Wayne State University in the United States, where he received a master’s degree. He obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1970 from the University of Uppsala in Sweden. On his return to Kenya, Oruka taught philosophy and religious studies at the University of Nairobi. He was also president of the Philosophical Association of Kenya, and became a member of the Inter-African Council of Philosophy, the Fédération Internationale de Société Philosophique, and the World Future Studies Federation.

Oruka conceived of the idea of “sage philosophy,” which he hoped would erase the rampant but disparaging Eurocentric perceptions that Africans were incapable of abstract thinking and philosophizing in the same way as Westerners. In 1970 reacting against Oruka s idea ...

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

Barry Hallen

J. Olubi Sodipo (d. 1999) was the first Nigerian professor of philosophy; chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife, Nigeria; founding vice-chancellor of the Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University), Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria; founder and editor of the international philosophical journal Second Order; president of the Nigerian Philosophical Society; president of the Inter-African Council for Philosophy; and life president of the Nigerian National Association of Philosophy Students (NNAPS).

Throughout his academic career Olubi Sodipo advocated a form of philosophical humanism Inspired by the pejorative manner in which Africa s cultures were portrayed by Western scholarship he formulated an original critique of Western culture and philosophy for their own shortcomings and defended the universal equality of humanity Sodipo decried academic accounts of Africa s peoples that he viewed as denying them both dignity and intellectual integrity and in the worst ...

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

Jeremy Rich

missionary and philosopher, was born Frans Tempels on 18 February 1906 in Berlaar, a town located in the Anvers province of Belgium. After completing his primary and secondary education in Belgium, Tempels decided to become a priest. He began his seminary training at Thielt, Belgium, with the Catholic order of the Franciscan Minor Friars on 17 September 1924, and was ordained a priest on 15 August 1930. For three years he served as a priest in Belgium, but then was assigned to work as a missionary in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then the Belgian Congo). On 3 November 1933 Tempels left for a three week voyage to Diolo a town in the diocese of Kamina located in the southern province of Katanga He initially expected the Congolese people to obey listen and stay quiet Despite his thoroughly ethnocentric views at the beginning of his missionary ...

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Charlene T. Evans

fiction and nonfiction writer, poet, teacher, and philosopher. Nathan Pinchback Toomer was the author of Cane (1923), a modernist text considered an artistic masterpiece and one of the most important works of the Harlem Renaissance. Toomer was born in Washington, D.C., the only child of a brief marriage between Nathan Toomer and Nina Pinchback Toomer. Married twice before, his father was a Georgia planter who inherited wealth from his second wife, Amanda America Dickson. His mother was the daughter of Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback, a Union officer in the U.S. Civil War who was elected to the Louisiana state senate in 1868 and appointed lieutenant governor upon the death of the incumbent in 1871. Pinchback gained the distinction of being the first African American to serve as state governor when he served briefly as acting governor of Louisiana when the governor Henry Warmoth was ...

Article

Rudolph P. Byrd

Jean Toomer is the author of Cane (1923) and a bridge between two distinct but contemporaneous groups of American writers. The first group consists of authors such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston whose writings define the scope of the New Negro or Harlem Renaissance. The second group consists of such writers as Waldo Frank and Gorham Munson who dominated the literary scene of Greenwich Village and whose writings are characterized by experimentalism and political liberalism. Toomer was a comrade-in-letters to Frank and Munson, and a distant but influential figure to Hughes and Hurston, who admired the achievement of Cane (1923), the three-part collection of sketches, poetry, and drama that established a standard for the writers of the New Negro movement and that conveyed the profound search for meaning at the core of American modernism.

The only child of Nina Pinchback and Nathan Toomer ...

Article

Robert B. Jones

Toomer, Jean (26 December 1894–30 March 1967), writer and philosopher, was born Nathan Pinchback Toomer in Washington, D.C., the son of Nathan Toomer, a planter, and Nina Pinchback, the daughter of Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback governor of Louisiana during Reconstruction and the first U S governor of African American descent Like his parents Toomer could easily pass for white his heritage comprising several European and African bloodlines Indeed throughout his formative years until age eighteen he lived alternately as white and as African American In 1895 Nathan Toomer abandoned his family forcing Nina and her son to live with her somewhat tyrannical father in Washington P B S Pinchback agreed to support them only under the condition that the boy s name be changed Though his name was not legally altered his grandparents thereafter called him Eugene Pinchback in school he was known as Eugene Pinchback ...