Chapter 5. Challenging the Euro-Western Epistemological Dominance of Development through African Cosmovision
“They have taken our land, our mineral resources and forests, our languages, our laws and jurisdictions, our religions and our system of governance and leadership. And then they blame us that we do not develop in accordance with their criteria.”
–PARTICIPANT, DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM(AS QUOTED IN HAVERKORT, MILLAR, & GONESE, 2003, P. 144)
Development, in its current form, has become a heavy weight encroaching on the continent of Africa. Dominated by Euro-Western epistemology, African development is drowning in reductionist and secular ideologies that dismiss the cultural and spiritual realities of African peoples. Overtly denigrating Indigenous African knowledges and worldviews as obstacles to development, the epistemology, ontology, and axiology of reductionist and positivist development remains incoherent and meaningless to African peoples by rejecting the very essence of local African life—a spiritualized relationship to the universe. Yet, with spirituality central to African epistemologies and worldviews, Euro-Western reductionist and positivist development has engendered a widespread African epistemicide, destroying valuable cultural and social resources necessary for the well-being and cultural continuity of African peoples (Lebakeng, 2010; Mbiti, 1969; Nyamnjoh, 2001). ← 98 | 99 → To counteract this epistemicide, there is an urgent need to revitalize African development so that it may speak to Africanized, thus spiritualized development. If development is to truly benefit African peoples, it must reflect the cosmology and beliefs of local peoples. This means exploring the ways in which development, through a spiritualized worldview, can contribute to the cultural, social, and moral survival and...
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