In defence of African philosophy

  • M. T. Gumbo University of South Africa
Keywords: African philosophy, diaspora, indigenous, dark-complexioned, culture


The aim of this article is to defend African philosophy in its singularity, as opposed to African philosophies in its plurality. African philosophy argues that there are recognisable common traits among Africans, whereas African philosophies as a concept counters this notion, claiming that Africans hold different philosophies, hence generalising about them is impossible. The existence of African philosophy is a contested terrain sparked by colonialism. Failure to defend African philosophy is a recipe for perpetuating the thinking that African indigenes do not have a philosophy. There is also a risk that their worldview could be lost in globalisation and internationalisation. My reaction is mainly inspired by Davison (Davison, Z. 2022. African philosophy: A nebulous label for demeaning indigenous philosophies of people of Africa. Journal of Philosophy and Culture 10(1): 1–9), who refutes the notion of African philosophy but supports African philosophies. In this article, I draw from the existing literature on African philosophy mainly contributed by higher-education-based scholars, including those in the Diaspora. The concepts of philosophy and African are critical; I describe them to advance my argument. I then tackle critical issues surrounding African philosophy, such as the nebulousness of the concept, the historical-political and spatial-cultural connotations, and modernist and postmodernist lenses applied to Africans. Most importantly, I provide examples of common traits among Africans to support my defence of the concept. My conclusion is that African philosophy does exist and is defendable. The article contributes to the African philosophy versus African philosophies debate; this is also important for learning and conducting research about African philosophy in higher education. African scholars should not be blind to the commonalities identifiable in African worldviews that can be used to defend African philosophy.


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Author Biography

M. T. Gumbo, University of South Africa

Department of Science and Technology Education


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How to Cite
Gumbo, M. T. 2024. “In Defence of African Philosophy”. South African Journal of Higher Education 38 (2), 120-40.
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