African classical philosophy: fact or fiction?
Chisaka, Boniface Chenjerai
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The presentation attempts to examine the question of whether there existed in Africa an independent philosophical dynamic comparable to European or Western classical philosophy. It is argued in the presentation that, for any organised community to exist, that in itself presupposes the existence of a systematic thought framework -ie. a philosophy. The African, like the European, had a way of life at the post-primary (or primitive level) of existence that was governed by rational and dialectical thinking, and their (african) philosophy was expressed orally in proverbs and was also expressed through behaviour, attitude, values and beliefs. It is also argued that for there to be a system that allows one group of people to dominate another or even to oppress another, a philosophy to legitimize this status quo must exist. Pre-colonial post primary African society had well organised belief, thought and value systems, including religious and tribal philosophies which in some cases were simitar to those of Western classical philosophy, and in other cases were quantitatively different from the Western type. The presentation also argues that African classical philosophy is unique and different from the Western variety in the sense that it emphasised humanism as central to human existence in all social activities (“Hunhu ” in Shona and “Ubunthu " in Ndebele) while Western classical philosophy as identified with Plato and Aristotle, emphasised individualism.