Understanding African Thought

Week 1: Origins of African Philosophy
Primary Reading(s): Kamalu, C. (1998). Person, Divinity and Nature. London: Karnak House.,
pp. 17-28.
Obenga, T. (2008). Egypt: Ancient History of African Philosophy. In K. Wiredu (Ed.), A
Companion to African Philosophy. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley., pp. 31-49.
University of Ghana – Legon – Institute of African Studies © 2016 4 of 8
Obenga, T. (2004). African philosophy: The Pharaonic period, 2780-330 B.C. Popenguine,
Senegal: Per Ankh., pp. 242-271.
Wendorf, F., & Schild, R. (1995). Nabta Playa during the Early and Middle Holocene. ANKH
Revue d’Egyptologie et des Civilisations Africaines, 4., pp. 33-45.
Discussion Topics: What is African Thought? What is African Worldview? How does worldview
inform thought?
Methods of Research: Sources of information on African Thought and the importance of Primary
Concepts of The Person: Rites of Passage

  • Birth
  •  Initiation
  • Marriage
  • Eldership
  • Ancestors

Primary Reading: Kamalu, C. (1998). Person, Divinity and Nature. London: Karnak House., pp.
Supplementary Readings: Fu-Kiau, K. K. B. (1991). Self-Healing Power and Therapy. Baltimore,
MD: Black Classic Press., pp. 1-42.
Fu-Kiau, K. K. B. (1994). Ntangu-Tandu-Kolo: The Bantu-Kongo Concept of Time. In J. K.
Adjaye (Ed.), Time in the Black Experience (pp. 17-34). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Fu-Kiau, K. K. B. (2001). African cosmology of the Bântu-Kôngo: tying the spiritual knot :
principles of life & living: Athelia Henrietta Press, publishing in the name of Orunmila.


Course Description and Objectives

The African Thinkers Program aims to introduce students to the core principles, modes, patterns, and history of thought and knowledge production in Africa and the African World, from Antiquity to the present. In designing the program, we are cognizant of the fact that training as students of African Studies would be incomplete without a proper understanding of the African worldview in its various manifestations throughout the African World and the principles which under-gird these various manifestations. As such, students will acquire familiarity with rich and profound interdisciplinary literature throughout space and time and also acquire pertinent evaluative criteria and organizing principles to assist in engaging the literature. Thus, in the core course entitled Foundations of African Thought, students will:

  • Acquire an understanding of the worldview under-girding African Thought and Philosophy

and how it fundamentally differs from the worldview, thought and philosophy of others (non-Africans)

  • Develop an understanding of fundamental tenets found at the core of the African Worldview

and how this worldview has been manifested in African Thought throughout space and time

  • Explore the relationship between common fundamentals of worldview on the various and

diverse expressions and manifestations of African culture along several dimensions

  • Become familiar with innovative approaches to the study of African Thought