Opinion – Sage’s philosophy towards Western thought


For many years debates and renunciations persisted among Western and African philosophers about the lack of an African philosophy. In his book How Natives Think, Bruhl (1910) posited two fundamental mentalities of humanity, “primitive” and “western”, the latter of which does not differentiate the supernatural from reality, but rather uses “mystical participation” to manipulating the world while in the Western mind, on the contrary, uses speculation and logic.

Levy-Bruhl believed that Africans were unable to learn, let alone be critical in their education. Nevertheless, wise African philosophers like Oruka (1997) have proven the contrary to Lévy-Bruhl with a philosophical sagacity, which refers to individual thinkers. It is an individualistic version of ethnophilosophy, in which the beliefs of particular members of the community are recorded. The principle is that some members of a community reach a high level of knowledge and understanding of the worldview of their culture and become wise men.

Oruka further asserts that every culture has ideas and beliefs that underpin and justify it, and can be called the myth of a culture. The myth forms a system which can be called the philosophy of the people. Wise men and every reasonable man and woman in society are supposed to be aware of the philosophy of their culture with its myth. However, African philosophers should not make hasty comparisons when dealing with traditional thought, as they should approach their subject matter critically. This is important because all the people who have made a breakthrough in the quest for modernization have done so by going beyond popular thought.

African sages

These are people who are wise because they continue to seek wisdom, to try to come to terms with life. This ties in with what Alagoa (2005) refers to when he says “more days, more wisdom” and “what an old man sees sitting, a young man sees him standing”. The African sages may not have written any books, but they searched, hoping to come up with tentative answers. Since time immemorial, sages have used a simple method of disseminating information and expertise to their young people through oral tradition. This method has proven to be a powerful tool in traditional education as most of their sayings are still used in educational speeches, such as the idiomatic expression Sifwe, “munwe wonke kautolyi ngina” meaning that a single finger cannot not choose a louse, which implies that a person cannot do everything on his own but needs the help of others. In traditional African society, the deep words of the elders are witty and meaningful words. Such words of elders are words of wisdom and find expression in proverbs, idioms, riddles, incantations or sayings oracular and witty.

Western educational perspective

There are four important attributes of a philosophy of education, the first characteristic of which is that it must have a theoretical framework. . It must indicate to the nation where education must lead its citizens. This implies that education should state the benefits that an education system should provide to its people, such as utility, values ​​and the importance of knowledge. The second attribute of the system is that it should have general educational goals to solve problems in the context of national education goals. Third, a philosophy of education must ensure that the identified goals are linked to the broader national goals of the country. National goals should be enshrined in the constitution. The final feature of education is that the philosophy must articulate how the goals will be achieved through a curriculum.

The argument of Western philosophers

In an indigenous philosophy of education, the four characteristics are not functional because they are not documented, and at the same time are not national in character like Westerners. However, Cooper (1996) and Solomon (1981) reject the idea of ​​documenting philosophies as a condition of their recognition, as Socrates and Buddha did not document their philosophies, yet they are today considered ideal philosophers. Although the indigenous philosophy does not have a theoretical framework and identified goals linked to broader national goals, it can still achieve and serve certain goals in the community by instilling a sense of honesty in young people and by making them feel honestly about them. educating to lead a morally acceptable life.

Inclusion of the philosophy of age in the modern school curriculum

Ishengoma (2005) supports the inclusion of African oral traditions and other elements of traditional learning in the modern school curriculum, which will increase the relevance of education for local communities. This challenges the views of those social and cultural anthropologists who argue that African puzzles have no substantially significant educational value. However, puzzles make an important contribution to the full participation of children in the social, cultural, political and economic life of African communities, in particular by promoting critical thinking and the transmission of indigenous knowledge.

It is important that policy makers consider consulting with indigenous communities in any plans to make the national curriculum culturally sensitive and based on indigenous knowledge. In addition, the use of traditional languages ​​should be encouraged throughout the education system, and schools, teachers and textbook writers should be encouraged to use traditional pedagogies and languages. Steps should be taken to indigenize formal education by concretizing the process of preserving wise philosophy, folklore through songs, books and through campaigns for “authenticity” such as the abandonment of devoid European names. meaning in favor of significant African names.

2021-10-08 Prof Makala Lilemba

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