African philosophy, Nigeria, philosophy, politics


I quite agree with Albert Einstein that, it is important that one never ceases to raise questions. it is in this line that I ask, to what extent can a mind ( African or not) be called civil? what actually are the signs of the civilization of a mind? (in our case here, the African mind) is it the mere liberation from the so called colonial shackles, building of sophisticated houses, riding the most expensive cars, acquisition of certificates and various degrees, holding of prestigious religious and political offices, use of the latest scientific and technological gadgets? I dare say NO! while the above mentioned are not bad in themselves, I tend to see them as secondary evidences of a civilized mind. Our ancestors were without these, but I think to an extent, their conducts are very closer to civility than the ones we display today. With the events happening in our African world, one who critically observes can say that, most African minds are still far away from the door of civilization despite the perceived show of enlightenment. There are many examples and cases of this but in this write-up, we shall how the case of Encrypted Phenomena has put a huge question mark on the externalities we show under the guise of civility. The neologism, Encrypted Phenomena is a coinage of Prof Innocent Asouzu. He describes encrypted phenomena as, those things that appear mysterious to us due to the paucity of our knowledge. Here, the mysteries disappear the moment the knowledge or information that is lacking is made available. Here the ignorant are usually exploited and are victims of selfish interests. Uncritical thinking arising from indoctrination and socialization looms here. Hence to be free from these, we can talk about de-crypting the encrypted or decoding the encrypted phenomena. One striking thing about the encrypted phenomena is that, it is practiced greatly in Africa by Africans and to Africans. So many people in the African milieu are being exploited daily under the guise of these phenomena. How do we explain the fact that despite the positive wind of enlightenment, we still hold back to the negative and deceptive ways of acting? Today for instance, so many are aware that wealth can be made through the rules of market economies yet we still continue to engage in practices like, money doubling, ritual killings just to make money. where then lies our rationality and enlightenment? the pillars of honest savings, hard work and honest investments which Africans were known for are gradually fading away before our very eyes. Religion on the other hand has been greatly exploited to the last. it is no longer seen as a genuine encounter with the Divine. What we have in the so called religious houses are simply the use of the name of God to exploit and deceive poor and innocent minds. Religion sadly has fallen into the category of encrypted phenomena used where man is served and worshipped in the name of God. We must know that, wearing the garment of civility when one cannot transcend this base and crooked form of thinking is useless. it is simply ironical or pseudo-civility so to say. True civility entails the capacity to see the Other not just as a negation or an object used to attain advancement and selfish interest but as a being that has rights, dignity and aspirations as we have. Emmanuel Levinas captures this thought when he talks of a face-face encounter. when this happens, then we can realize that such values as honesty, hard work, respect for life, worship of God in spirit and in truth will fall into place. Besides, these were hallmarks of the traditional African societies. unless this approach is taken, the Door of Civility might remain locked up from us for a long time to come.


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