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Alena Rettová. Afrophone Philosophy: Reality and Challenges
2007, Středokluky: Zdeněk Susa
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Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by: Jonathan Egid
Publisher’s Note:

The point of departure of this publication is philosophy, more precisely African philosophy and the question of the possibility of using African languages in philosophical discourse. This book sees Afrophone literatures as a prominent locus of philosophical discourse in African cultures. In its eleven chapters, the book investigates literary works in African languages and reads them with respect to their contribution to philosophy. Studying Swahili, Ndebele, Shona, Bambara, Yoruba and Lingala literatures, we have found philosophical insights which sometimes amount to no more than philosophical commonplaces, but occasionally make highly original contributions to philosophy. The deeper we penetrated into Afrophone discourses, the more remote became the departure point. The issue of "philosophies in African languages" was both methodologically and empirically settled, and we found ourselves looking for "a philosophy for Afrophone literatures". Philosophy became more of a tool than a goal in this process: it has the conceptual inventory to articulate the insights found in Afrophone literatures. Drawing on both Western and African philosophical traditions, with their concepts and conceptual frameworks, provides these new articulations with the necessary distance to secure a creative reflexion of the literary texts, developing their theme and showing them in a broader context of intellectual history. This book examines literatures in six African languages, from several regions within Bantu Africa (Swahili, Lingala, Shona, Ndebele) and from West Africa (Bambara, Yoruba). With the exception of Yoruba, where (although we know the language to some extent) we used texts collected and translated by other researchers, we have always relied on original texts written (and mostly also published) by their authors.

Comment: A great survey of general approaches to African philosophy in many languages, at the cutting edge of modern research. Great for classes on philosophy and literature or on introductions to global thought best discussed alongside the primary texts it discusses.

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Gyekye, Kwame. An Essay on African Philosophical Thought. The Akan Conceptual Scheme
1987, Temple University Press
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Added by: Sara Peppe and Björn Freter
Publisher’s Note: In this sustained and nuanced attempt to define a genuinely African philosophy, Kwame Gyekye rejects the idea that an African philosophy consists simply of the work of Africans writing on philosophy. It must, Gyekye argues, arise from African thought itself, relate to the culture out of which it grows, and provide the possibility of a continuation of a philosophy linked to culture. Offering a philosophical clarification and interpretation of the concepts in the ontology, philosophical psychology, theology, and ethics of the Akan of Ghana, Gyekye argues that critical analyses of specific traditional African modes of thought are necessary to develop a distinctively African philosophy as well as cultural values in the modern world.

Comment: A classical work of modern African philosophy and, because of its analysis of the conceptual scheme, highly relevant for the context of African philosophy and language.

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Ibanga, Diana-Abasi, Bassey Eyo, Emmanuel. African Indigenous Languages and the Advancement of African Philosophy
2018, Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies. 12 (5): 208-217.
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Added by: Sara Peppe and Björn Freter
Abstract: The contention raised in this research is to showcase that indigenous African languages are imperative tools in advancing African philosophy and thought. By extension the genuiness and originality of African philosophical thought is best advanced when it is vocalized and transliterated in the mother tongue of the philosopher. When African philosophical thought is done and articulated in language foreign to the philosopher, then that philosophical thought is weakened within the conceptual expression and foundation. It is also contended that, indigenous languages would address perennial problem of inadequacies of languages especially where there are no direct replacement of concept and terms to explain reality and other state of affairs.

Comment: Diana-Abasi Ibanga and Emmanuel Bassey Eyo’s paper African Indigenous Languages and the Advancement of African Philosophy is a fundamental text to understand the role of indigenous languages in the advancement of African philosophy. Bassey Eyo and Ibanga underline that the concepts expressed in foreign languages convey African philosophy thoughts more weakly. Moreover, this paper highlights the need to philosophize in the African language, which would enable African philosophers to convey concepts precisely, and avoid inadequately translating their thoughts.

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