Africa In-The-World

by Cyrille B. Koné (Volume editor) Matthias Kaufmann (Volume editor)
©2021 Edited Collection 172 Pages
Series: Treffpunkt Philosophie, Volume 19


This book is above all an example of philosophical reflection in Africa, refuting traditional commonplaces concerning the continent. The texts comprising this volume disprove the misconceptions that Africa has never understood itself and has never contributed to the enrichment of knowledge, the development of rational thought, philosophy, the arts, science and technology as well as civilization. For the members of the recently established network Africa In-The-World, the contributions dealing with musical rhythms, dances and the continental humanist philosophy confirm that Africanisation is a process that continues unabated to this day. The multiple and significant African contributions are often difficult to see because they have long since been adopted and integrated into the heritage of humanity. Africa In-The-World is working toward the construction of a universal humanity – one conceived in terms of a "give and take mentality."

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction: Africa In-The-World: Cyrille KONÉ
  • African Translations – Introductory Remarks from an External Point of View: Matthias Kaufmann
  • Chapter I Africa In-The-World: Pan-Africanism Strategy and Contemporary Challenges: Lazare KI-ZERBO
  • Chapter II African Music in the World, the Sunny Side of Globalization: Patrice Yengo
  • Chapter III “I be Africa Man Original” – Fela Kuti, Serge Aimé Coulibaly and Africa in the World: Annette Bühler-Dietrich
  • Chapter IV Africa and Philosophy: Yoporeka SOMET
  • Chapter V Science and Africa in the World Who’s Africa, Which World and What about Science?: Emmanuel Malolo Dissakè
  • Chapter VI The Gift of Africa: Father Antoine de Padou POODA
  • Chapter VII Ubuntu: An African Assistance to the World: Cyrille G. B. KONÉ
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index

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Cyrille KONÉ

Introduction: Africa in-the-World

For many decades, Africa has been variously studied, but this was almost always to place it in the position determined by the world order of dominants – as if it could not exist on its own – thus fueling the myth of a continent always beaten in advance and there by default1. The meeting of teachers, researchers from different backgrounds, under the international conference, organized by The Research Cluster Society and Culture in Motion and The Institute of Philosophy and Ethnology, on December 5 and 6, 2017, at the Martin Luther Halle-Wittenberg University, inaugurates a new cycle of reflections entitled: “Africa In-The-World”.

This book brings together the texts from the Halle meeting that take Africa as a center of interest. This book, which situates the continent in and around the world, is above all an example of philosophical reflection in Africa. Contributors, who do not pretend to be exhaustive on the subject, even if they analyze important aspects, intend to think of Africa differently. In this sense, they use the thought in Africa and highlight the presence and influence of the continent in the contemporary world, to ensure, as said Mamoussé Diagne, the passage of “Africa-object” to “Africa-subject” and therefore “center of initiative”, quite capable of knowing itself, of thinking the world and otherness. The ←9 | 10→proposed reflections are therefore critical2 and are clearly at odds with conventional wisdom about Africa. In particular, the misconception that it has never understood anything of itself has not contributed to the enrichment of knowledge, development of rational thought, philosophy, arts, techniques and science and civilization. The following texts dismount all these commonplaces on the continent. The reader will take into account the different thinking styles of the authors, ranging from affection for metaphor and images to the predilection for outspokenness as well as the art of diplomatic oratory precautions. The common point of these authors is, above all, to question Africa differently. Indeed, they depart from the reverential tendency, which refuses any pre-eminence or submission, in terms of knowledge, to better illuminate the plurality of cultures, African spaces, in the sense of the equal value of the different systems of human thought.

Should we still ask what “Africa” means? What is Africa? Is it necessary to situate it, think of it or write3 about it? Is Africa, as Hegel says, locked in on itself ←10 | 11→without any opening on the world? Should one be black to be an African? Who is an African and what is being an African? How can the Arabs, the Berbers, the Bantu, the Sudânais (a term referring to the inhabitants of West Africa under the empires of Mali and Songhay), the Afrikaner or Afrikander, other people still, call themselves Africans? Is it given to be an African or do we become one? What does an African conscience mean and what does Africa mean as an idea, an intellectual, cultural, socio-political project, to be constructed in response to oppression and suffering, in order to transcend specificities, linked to conditions of life, origin or religion? It is in the attempt to answer all these questions that the authors address the various topics proposed in the collective work.

While in the pages that follow, the opposition of style between the authors, their difference of school and positioning are obvious, even to the hurried or lazy mind; however, it is not superfluous to indicate to the reader the convergence of the texts, which call for a real dialogue with the other, while rejecting the “centrisms” which veil the connections and blur the reciprocal influences between civilizations. The different parts of the world are not insularities that ignore each other; they are in contact with each other. Therefore, Africa is in solidarity with the world and vice versa.

Being African is not a privilege reserved for the Blacks living in the South of the Sahara, or in the diasporas, but to the people established on the continent or elsewhere in the world and who suffer from discrimination and rejection from the dominant ones of the world. Africa is not exclusive to Africans on the continent, it is a project of building a community by individuals and multiple human groups, eager to restore humanity trampled by the implementation of a world open to reciprocal influences with no peripheries because the center has disappeared.

The term “community” seems today overused and arouses mistrust because of its connotations. It does, however, perfectly reflect the very idea of Africa. Indeed, the word “community” is criticized and rejected because, in its excesses, communitarianism threatens the destruction of contemporary society. Yet, it must be emphasized that any society, scientific, professional, religious … is a community. It is defined as a grouping of individuals, united by different social bonds, a way of life, a sense of belonging, a shared vision of the world, shared ←11 | 12→values, a common imagination. As we can see, every society has as its model the community which supposes that what society offers, material goods, security, culture … is “accessible to all”. What is not to anyone is common. That is to say, what is to all or at least to the greatest number. Is common, what is not private and particular, but what is public, general, and even universal. At the very foundation of the idea of Africa, there is an “unsurpassable common horizon”: to bring about unity in pluralism. In other words, something “forces” on others. And it is this something that pushes one out of the particular interest, to open the boundaries limiting the personal experience to be related to other human beings, in a “co-presence experienced”4. Africa does not claim the exception, based on the contempt of the other. As Djibril Samb points out, it is human in the same way as other parts of the universal humanity5.

To follow the contributions of the book, Africa is not a geographical reality, inward-looking; it is open to the world since it includes the West, the East, Asia, etc. It is a significant part of human civilization whose history cannot be reduced to what has been done in a given time and space – even if it is Western – as the history of human civilization. Therefore, for the members of the new circle of reflection, “Africa In-The-World”, not only is civilization in no way the privilege of a region of the world, but it is also fruitful to think philosophically in non-European languages6. The contributions of the musical rhythms, the dances, the arts, the science and the philosophy of the humanism of the continent confirm that the world is not only Western because the Africanization of the planet continues unabated. The various African contributions have long been adopted and integrated into the heritage of humanity.

Whether we make a mistake or not, Africa is not trying to control everything, or to bring everything back to its own reason in order to better impose on others like the United States of America (USA) is, in some way, doing today or like Europe has done before. Its project, pursuing the insertion of the dominated and the minorities, excluded from the human condition of the humanity, does not consist in depreciating any other knowledge, culture or civilization, ←12 | 13→to propose the African philosophy, but rather to raise its presence in the world, working for the construction of universal humanity, thought like the “give and take appointment”7. In short, Africa wants to meet its own challenges, by solving the problems that are its own, through a strategy of cooperation between knowledge, cultures, civilizations, because no country can flourish by closing on the local and national level, or even breaking with other African countries and the world.

Ouagadougou, April 27, 2019

1 The study of Djibril Samb, L’Afrique dans le temps du monde, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2010, p. 77, gives some indications of the mysterious origin of the word “Africa”. Its analysis suggests how some authors are wrongly, guided by the etymological explanation of the term, while it is uncertain. Indeed, in the quest of understanding the word from the etymology of the name Africa, [“attributed either to Hebrew (Aphar, dust; ApharikosAphrikos), or to the Phoenician (Ferich? = Wheat → Aferich?Africh ? = Continent without wheat?), that is, finally to the Greek (Afrike = absence of coldness or, according to another connotation, absence of shivering of the skin), either to Berber Faraca, “what is separated” (ap. Leon the African) or in the name of the Afri (sing. Afer) – inhabitant of the punic province of Carthage that has become Provincia Africa, then Africa abbreviated, in 146 BC”], the analyzes do not even question the foundations of their knowledge; as a result, they produce a suspicious knowledge that makes the dominant hegemony acceptable and legitimate the paternalistic instinct. Most ethnological, anthropological, economic, political and even philosophical surveys often fail to say that in the case of Africa, imperial domination gave rise to a double influence of the West on Africans, but also of Africans on Westerners, and the colonizers in general.

2 The thinking styles of the contributors to the work have in common the refusal of any dependence on any authority whatsoever, as Henri Bergson says, “le cahier du maître” (“the notebook of the master”) is not valid because the truths about Africa may be unreliable. Indeed, since the dawn of time, philosophy, as authentic thought, learns in all its traditions to dispel prejudices. It is a critical activity of the mind that demands that one suspends one’s immediate opinions, that one keeps oneself away from spontaneous discussions, insofar as they only refer to our unthinking beliefs as I discuss the question in: « Le conflit des formes du spiritual – The Conflict of Forms of the Spiritual », Histoire et anthropologie (History and Anthropology), N°. 9, Strasbourg, October-December 1994, pp. 57–61.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (June)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 174 pp., 2 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Cyrille B. Koné (Volume editor) Matthias Kaufmann (Volume editor)

Cyrille Koné was visiting professor at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. He is the director of Centre d’études sur les Philosophies, les sociétés et les savoirs (CEPHISS) – Center for studies on philosophies, societies and knowledges, at Joseph Ki-Zerbo University. He published several articles and books on metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics in Africa, African civilization. Matthias Kaufmann studied mathematics, philosophy and political science. 1992 habilitation with a work on reference and truth in William Ockham. During 1995–2020 he was a professor in philosophy (ethics) at the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg. His main fields of work are political philosophy, philosophy of law, applied ethics and early modern philosophy.


Title: Africa In-The-World
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166 pages