Video + Secured PDF Combo

Duration: 1 hour, 49 minutes, 29 seconds

PDF: 50 Slides

(Primary and supplementary readings not included with this product)


Week 6: Common Elements in African Cosmology

  • The Primeval Water, the Life-Force, the Void and Continuum
  • Transmission of the Life-Force
  • The Four Primordial Elements/Ancestors
  • Chaos and Order
  • Concert of Opposites
  • Divine Intelligence/Logos/Word

Reading: Kamalu, C. (1998). Person, Divinity and Nature. London: Karnak House., pp. 131-144.

Supplementary Text(s): Diop, C. A. (1989). The Cultural Unity of Black Africa: the domains of patriarchy and of matriarchy in classical antiquity. London: Karnak House., pp. 47-102.

Carruthers, J. H. (1995). Mdw Nt̲r. London: Karnak House., pp. 39-88; 113-178.

Martin, D. (2008). Maat and Order in African Cosmology: A Conceptual Tool for Understanding Indigenous Knowledge. Journal of Black Studies, 38(6), 951-967. doi:10.2307/40035033


Course Description and Objectives: The African Thinkers Program aims to fill a gap in the epistemological universe of the typical MPhil/PhD student regarding world philosophies. The course will 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 the course, we introduce students to a variety of fundamentally African concepts and ideas applicable to the development of contemporary indigenous African theoretical and conceptual frameworks for use in their own research. As such, students will acquire familiarity with rich and profound interdisciplinary primary sources (e.g., astronomy, medicine, literature, etc.). They will also be introduced to the writings of classical and contemporary African philosophers and gain an understanding of pertinent evaluative criteria and organizing principles to assist in developing their own research in innovative ways.

This course will combine lectures, discussions, and class presentations as well as guest lectures and field trips as the modes of teaching.

At the end of the course, students would have acquired an understanding of the cosmology undergirding African Thought and Philosophy; acquired some tools of analysis for differentiating among cosmologies of the world; gained an exposure to the manifestations of the fundamental tenets of the African Worldview throughout the continent and the diaspora; and become familiar with innovative approaches to the study of African Thought and their implementation in African Studies research.