THE TOYIN FALOLA INTERVIEWS
A CONVERSATION WITH OMOYELE SOWORE, PART 4
Justice, equality, and fraternity were the tripod forces and principles that triggered the 1789 French Revolution. These became the song on the street of Bastille and other parts of France that year. It was sung and animated so much so that it became the signpost of hundreds of demonstrations of people’s power around the world in the years and centuries that followed. The organization of polities around the notion of a nation-state and the political coordination of such an entity was at this time remodeled. This implies that the 1789 revolution brought a deep search-light on the social contract that existed between the ruled and the rulers. Even more interesting in this year’s event is that since then, the French aristocracy has neither stopped nor yielded its place for another in the history of the people’s revolution against the ruling class and the state.
From here, one wonders what the Great Teacher meant when he called on us to ask for our daily bread in our communication with the universe. Bread might have been the primary staple of that civilization, but it has turned out to be a metaphor for the significance of food consumption in the everyday life of human beings. In the more recent times, as recent as the year 2020, after over three decades of endurance under the draconian regime of Omar Al Bashar and his terrorist state, the people of Sudan finally gained the courage to break the yoke only after an astronomic hike in the price of bread. Scientists have equally equated an empty stomach to a gloomy and temperamental spirit. As Harari demonstrates in his work on the history of humankind, the domination of this planet earth by humans only began about 70,000 years ago when they climbed and remained at the peak of the ladder of the food distribution chain in what could be fairly called the animal kingdom—the world in which man and other animals competed for food and survival in the same environment.
Arriving at this superior pedestal was not an easy fit for humankind after years of cohabitation with other animals, especially the jackals, lions, and other “kings” of the jungle they lived with. But ever since that 70,000-year-old revolution described as the “Cognitive Revolution,” the impulse to constantly reshape and recalibrate their physical and social environment for purposes that boil down to protecting their interests and common good has been one of the great preoccupations of humankind. Through this, humans have made an indelible footprint on the planet-earth, both in collective and individual terms. Not surprisingly, therefore, attempts at the redistribution of wealth have continued to produce and reproduce the history of mankind for over 70,000 years.
Since the Westphalia treaty of 1648, this attempt has been increasingly linked to the condition and notion of human rights. Child and female education, freedom of will, association, speech, and all, as well as the rights to a dignified life, employment, wellbeing, and others, are intrinsically weaved into and around the question of wealth distribution. Among several other historical notables, this brought about the Methodist Revolution in England, the Fifth Amendment in America, the Bolshevik Revolution in the old Soviet state, piecemeal independence in Africa and other colonial states, the Iranian Revolution, and the unrelenting press for democracy and democratic reforms around the world, especially since the symbolic or rather, the technical end of the cold war.
Revolution, like development, has never been a destination but a thorough and consciously tamed endeavor by the collective awareness of the people. Nigeria and Nigerians have been in this saddle for over a century since the 1914 mercantile-inspired amalgamation. Before this time, various peoples and cultures, not yet to be called Nigerians, had made a fundamental print on this pedestal of revolution and change. More than any other time in history, this was particularly so in the nineteenth century, which cannot be referred to as the Age of Revolution in the Niger area. Nineteenth-Century political establishments in this area were faced with the odds of not fresh ideas, but refreshed motifs from various forces bent on changing the status quo as dictated in their peculiar environments.
In this regard, one could name the likes of Uthman dan Fodio, Ogedengbe, Lisabi, Jaja, and a host of others. These great men and their protégés reformed and instituted new forms of governance across the Niger area along the line of the socioeconomic reality of the time—expanding trade, burgeoning population, and permanent foreign relations. In some cases, as in the new town of Abeokuta, their attempt at remodeling the political and socioeconomic morphology of the states was spurred and directed by their returnee kinsmen from the Americas and Sierra Leone. Their protégés in the twentieth century, many of whom were descendants of the returnees, and western educated individuals, namely Herbert Macaulay, Dr. Obasa Randle, Chief Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikwe, and Ahmadu Bello, also tuned into the prevailing sociopolitical ambiance of the colonial era to demand change in the coordination of the state affairs.
Their demands ultimately ignited the independence of the state in 1960 but did not put an end to the conditions to which they responded, organized, and expressed their nationalist agitations. In the same way they hijacked the transformational process initiated by these nineteenth-century figures, others in the postcolonial state have taken the gauntlet from them, demanding a better state and the redistribution of wealth. This struggle has been staged on different platforms and has been the career notable of some impeccable and iconoclastic Nigerians. Many of them never joined partisan politics, others did at some points, ostensibly seeing the tomfoolery in demanding a butterfly to act an eagle. Tai Solarin, Wole Soyinka, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Omoyele Sowore, and others have been in this ring and have paid dearly from the tyrannical response of the state.
In all of this history, it is safer to refer to these men as the vanguard of the society. More broadly, in recent times, that is from the twentieth century, they constitute the conscience of the society. Although their predecessors can hardly be described as the conscience of the society, given the circumstances in which some of the revolutions were staged, which were purely a matter of military prowess and quest for power, they all share the commonality of being drawn from the small pool of “enlightened” members of the society whose vision of tomorrow becomes the trailblazer of public action. Many thanks to the age of the Internet of Things, which was heralded by the digital revolution of the current millennium, the works and thoughts of these formidable figures have been animated and easily disseminated to the public.
Since the debut of his online investigative journalism platform, Sahara Reporters, in 2006, Omoyele Sowore, perhaps the youngest and most vibrant of these popular figures in recent times, has become a target of the state. Whereas this was a notch forward in his engagement with the state in the demand for a just society, the battle line had long been drawn between this indefatigable figure and the state since his days as a university student in the late 80s. Talk about the struggle for democracy and democratic principles in Nigeria from this period onward, and you will find Sowore acting in one capacity or the other. If he is not organizing protests and calling for reforms, he is joining the hands on deck to do the same.
From phantom charges to detention, restriction of movement, to all sorts of psychological incarceration that are the hallmark of all dictatorial regimes, Sowore has grown to become the nemesis of the state and the albatross to be constantly checked by its elite political class. Just a couple of days ago, the death of his brother, Olajide Sowore, in the hands of the marauding forces of evil and retrogression was added to this appalling profile. Neither Sowore nor his brother could be protected by the state—and neither is any of us—but they could be murdered, incarcerated, exploited, and dehumanized by the same state they pledged to serve in the national anthem and other legal documents and actions. Such a sad story! Once again, my deepest condolences to the Sowore family.
Remarkably, the activist made it to the Toyin Falola Interviews on Sunday, September 5, 2021, just a day after the unfortunate news of his brother’s demise, a telling tale of the dogged spirit that had seen him navigate the rugged sociopolitical terrain of the Nigerian state for over two decades. This is also a testament to how dear to his heart he holds the restoration of the state, which is on the fringe of collapse, and how much he detests the possible return of the state to the stone-age animal kingdom where life was brutish and short.
Even though, as Professor Olatunji Olaopa rightly observed during the interview session, the structure, approach, and praxis of the revolution championed by Sowore still need a thorough rejigging for clarity, direction, and mobilization, for its modus operandi to materialize, given the mammoth to be subdued in this pursuit, no one can question his commitment to the cause of changing the postcolonial narrative of the Nigerian state.
As revealed during the interview session, and as many must have known, this has taken the trend of building or attempting to build alliances with like-minded individuals and organizations and establishing structures of action across the federation. So, when Professor Moses Ochonu asked if Omoyele Sowore saw no contradictions in the clamor for restructuring by a section of the social movements and space of the state, secession by others, and his own call for revolution, the media guru had no problem drawing the parallel that exists in this public space and efforts he and his comrades have made in building bridges across divided lines. Certainly, no one can doubt the need for a common ground and coalition among the revolutionary forces in the state. As Sowore pointed out, call it demand for restructuring or secession, all are revolutionary drives, and the word “revolution,” which scares the enablers of the status quo so much, does not necessarily have to be violent or bloody. This is why there is the option of a referendum.
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Talking about a referendum, not a few who were present at the live streaming of the latest Toyin Falola Interviews, and most certainly sharing the minds of other patriots within and outside the country, were of the view that the 2023 elections under this current stricture would be another waste of public resources for the recycling of the old problem. Like a commentator mentioned, in some cases, the problem of governance in Nigeria is not so much of having incompetent hands in the saddle of leadership but of a system that has been programmed to make them fail and incapacitated. Others warned that if Sowore were to participate in the charade called elections in 2023 without pushing for and achieving tangible compromises in the current electoral system as well as the rogue constitution, whether by way of referendum, constitutional conference, or even the combination of both and other viable means, no one should be surprised if there is a repeat of the 2019’s.
When pressed further on how he hoped to effect change on the political scene while responding to Professor Ochonu, Omoyele Sowore seems to base his hope on the limited six percent of the population that could relate well and key into the message of his party, the African Action Congress (AAC), the Liberation Movements, RevolutionNow, and others. If this population could upturn the ignorant-majority electing and “de-electing” candidates, it is believed that the political landscape of the state could be hugely transformed. Where then does this six percent lie? They are mainly found among the middle-class population and students, many of whom have given up on the state. Getting this population on board will not only reduce the cost of campaign but is also sure to recalibrate electioneering processes. This way, more competent heads can throw their heads in the ring. However, even with this population of “refined minds,” politics will remain that dirty arena of slings, manipulation, and shenanigans, though this could be at the level of intellectual, rigorous, and stimulating debates. I pointed this out because politics is a game of interests, and interests are never static but dynamic with time and circumstances, even with a guiding principle. Hence, man is a sociopolitical animal.
Interestingly, not everyone buys into the idea of Sowore’s revolution and overhauling of the political atmosphere of the Nigerian state. In place of this, they advocate for the evolution of the state. In one sentence, they subscribe to the evolution of the state, as against revolution, for its sociopolitical and economic transformations. They hold this position to the view that the revolution did not transform the condition in Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia, or Libya, as the states have since relapsed into an even deeper abyss of political uncertainty, pandemonium, and dictatorship. Among this group belongs Dr. Ena, who described himself as a pro-investment as against a pro-people person. The young man argued that there could be a dichotomy between these two approaches to development without ripping one’s heart and soul into the bin of degeneration.
Aside from the prayers of fortitude for Omoyele Sowore at the opening of the interview session, Dr. Ena’s stance was another of the most significant moments at the event. It offered to the public caption-clear opposing views dominating Nigeria and the global economic world. The discussion touched on the relations between private and public entities in the state. To what extent should the government be involved in private businesses? And here, the question of the Dangote refinery was brought to the fore. Although Sowore was quick to pronounce this ambitious project aimed at pumping 650 000bpd to West African markets, including Nigeria, a failure, his skepticism, like that of many other well-meaning Nigerians, is unfounded but a palpable one rooted in the political culture of the state. This is even more so considering the primitive approach of the current regime (not administration) to governance, which has repeatedly brought about the accusation of sectional agenda against it from different quarters within and outside the Nigerian space.
However, on a broader lens devoid of sectional interest, the $4 billion commitment of the Nigerian government, which gives her a twenty percent share in the $19 billion project, could be the best conduit for the country to be self-reliant in energy consumption and take a leap in the value chain of global production. I am not acquainted with Mr. Aliko Dangote, but let no one be deceived about an ethnoreligious undertone of this deal. Dangote Corporation and the man are two different entities. By any chance of legal circumstances, the Nigerian government or any other legal entity could even take over the refinery in the future. As far as the interests of Nigerians are duly represented, it cannot be denied that they will benefit from this pro-investment project. Not only can they save from the cost of petroleum products, further infrastructural investments and developments from the returns can also be expected. As a pro-investment person that Dr. Ena is and as shared by many big businesses like Dangote, the elites’ interest supersedes the interest of the people in cases like this.
Consequently, we find a recurrent situation where the corporate responsibilities of multinationals are jettisoned for the interest of these elites. Dr. Ena also referenced this in his critique of revolutionary movements regarding the Niger Delta crisis. A pro-investment drive that tags along the wellbeing of the people remains the sure link to development, and not the mere growth often flaunted in statistical data measured by the GDP. From the Nigerian case in particular, and the economic growth story of the rest of the world in general, an upward trend in states GDP is not equal to improvement in the everyday life of the average person on the street. It takes holistic relations between pro-investment plans and pro-people schemes to unleash the potential states as seen in China in recent times. There are no metrics for the damage that pro-investment excesses have caused and its continued cancerous effects on our everyday life. Covid-19 politics have added a new icy to this macabre cake.
Meanwhile, it remained to be seen how evolution could be achieved without revolution at some point or another in the 70,000-year history of man. Earlier in the program, Mrs. Motunrayo Alaka had brought this view to the question of women participation in politics, policies, and public space, to which Sowore admitted that his party failed to do justice to as intended in the previous elections but reiterated their position on the aphorism– “educate and empower women, educate a nation.” The preceding points remain the central and intricate drive of changes and transformation, which have driven human society for thousands of years, and which no nuclear weapon had been able to decimate despite the incarceration and muddling of voices like that of Sowore.
At this point, I join the elders at the interview session to pray for the family of Omoyele Sowore, asking for the strength to bear the unfortunate loss of their son, husband, father, and brother, Olajide Sowore. I also say a big “Ase!” to all the heartfelt prayers offered.
Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.
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Professor Ousseina Alidou On African Studies And Global Hegemony
By Toyin Falola
Discussions around African Studies, its progress, and the projection of its future have increased relatively in recent times, led by scholars of decoloniality and African Indigenous Knowledge System. There are also debates in multiple centers in Africa about the value of academic work to development and policies. Complaints are loud that the PhD topics and many new books are disconnected from African concerns and future.
The conversations have been evident in different ideological spaces and blocs around the continent. Social media has escalated both the intensity and scope of the debates and platforms. However, what has been making the dialogue possible are the individuals who have taken strong grounds and hold of the importance of decolonization of African studies. They have kept the rhythm of the voices and inducted new minds and perspectives into subscribing to the endeavors.
Professor Ousseina Alidou
One thing is to have several individuals who will not let go of the discourse; another is the increase in the number of platforms and means by which those convictions are both solidly held and propagated. The Toyin Falola Interviews, with other platforms that give direct access to African Studies, have given considerable relevance to some of the prominent issues. There are various ecosystems—the opinion you hold in one may not be accepted in another. The ecosystems primarily devoted to the African perspectives have provided a ground for public history and materials rich enough to extend the scope of African Studies. In this sense, several African scholars, decision-makers, opinion leaders, organic intellectuals, and those with direct or indirect access to how African histories and studies are perceived are often engaged.
Professor Ousseina Alidou, who has often taken discussions around the uniqueness of African Studies and African perspectives, has invested many years of scholarship in expanding the frontiers of knowledge around Muslim women and women generally in African Studies. Through the Toyin Falola Interviews, she recently gave clearer perspectives on the state of African Studies in the face of global hegemony. The Panel Discussion on African Studies, held on November 19, 2023, having Ousseina D. Alidou, Professor Kenneth Harrow and Professor Richard Joseph, brought about new ideas on the subject of African studies.
The subject of global hegemony over African Studies started before I was born. The creation of several schools of thought has also propagated various ideas and ideologies. However, after many years of attempts at decolonizing African Studies and revolutionizing the academic institutions, the ghost of the past still haunts the African knowledge system. Like Professor Alidou agreed, the mirror of Africa and its studies are often from the reflections and projections of the European perspectives, so strong, that it has created a cultural and perspective domination in the knowledge production system. She posited that the colonialists and the global hegemonies have created some sort of hypnosis (to use my own word!) or understanding that has affected even the ways Africans see themselves, the continent, and its studies. Drawing from this, the problem is not only about the domination of foreign methods of science and studies in Africa but also the root of the understanding of African studies that form the basis of the conceptualization of the studies themselves. Africans now see Africa in ways far from African binoculars.
Reflecting on the above subject, Professor Alidou stated her continuous provocation from the fact that it is easier to remember any European, Latino, Asian, or foreign scholar who has written about Africa and African Studies than people would remember African or local scholars themselves. It then begs the question of whether the agitation for the projection of African Studies is to tell the world to change our tune and talk about Africa while Africans fold their hands or barely engage the subjects of Africa. From her position, it seems that there is just a subject matter switch from the former predominant foreign literature to foreign studies of Africa.
The implication of this is that African ideologies would have to be beaten into foreign methodologies, thereby killing the uniqueness of African Studies, which should have been the paramount effort. She retorted that this is why methodologies like STEM would not inculcate African art, cosmology, philosophies, and perspectives in their originalities. This is because those ideologies must be made to conform to these methodologies. This is simple: foreign perspectives or sentiments in foreign studies of Africa will always remain constant, and the African materials and essentials must conform to their parameters. As Professor Alidou has rightly stated, there is a need to build scientific, methodological, and analytical parameters around African elements and not just conform African elements to them. This is why, as she further stated, it is difficult to interpret and represent African perspectives of science.
There really cannot be a satisfactory positioning of African Studies in cogent knowledge parameters that cannot be interpreted or projected from the lights of African elements. As she said, if science cannot be embedded into spirituality, culture, and art, then there are still more stairs and steps away from the actualization of the dream.
This then makes me ponder: In light of all of these, what is science? This is not to go into the etymological definitions but structural conception in this context. Science should not be seen from the angle of a conception of foreign endeavors. Dissenting ideologically from Professor Alidou, science should not be seen as so distant from Africa. It is not science because of the scientific theories and discoveries propounded by foreigners; it is science because it raises questions of inquiries, methodologies, and certainty, especially through objectivities. I will then further ask if there can be African science or European science in the angle of having a cultural distinction of science. Everyone can agree that the primary backbone of science itself is the objective attributes and its subscription to certainty through inquisitive processes. This dissent then explains the depth of Professor Alidou’s observations: it is that science and scientific inquiries should not quarantine away from what could be wrongly seen as African frivolities. It is that the important subject of spiritualties, witchcraft, and rituals could inhale the breath of science in its entirety and independent of already concluded global biases. It is that Africans should build science out of African elements.
To put these positions in line, Professor Alidou stated that Africans and African scholars should remember that the studies should not be rested on essentialist narrow perspectives. African studies should not be seen as a stand-alone discipline because of the attempt to protect it from excessive diffusions; it should be able to tap into global knowledge but from a strong ground. So, the effort is not to isolate African Studies, it is to rightly develop African Studies, use them to understand and interpret foreign ones, and develop them from the distilled global materials. This would be the difference between global hegemony and global instrumentalism.
These efforts need repositioning African mentalities towards African Studies. However, it is a devastating reality that the drive to continue these sanitations has been low among young folks in Africa. The persuasion towards scholarship has been low. This could partly be because scholarship in Africa is growing to be less attractive, especially from the angle of incentives. Other factors have also taken the attention of those that would guarantee to onward efforts of the movements. In this light, Professor Alidou pointed to the need for reinvestment into Afrocentric studies and African scholarship. But to meet these investments, social efforts must be made to raise national identity. This was the muse decades ago in Africa, when writers like Chinua Achebe, as she referenced, and scholars spearheaded African discussions. But a fundamental challenge is that the drives have been lower these days, and Professor Alidou suggested two ways to rekindle it: the reinvestment in African Studies and the promotion of national identity.
Where education and studies are viewed and interpreted from Afrocentric and national vantage points, they would provide more solutions to local problems, challenges, and conceptualizations. For instance, Professor Alidou alluded to the fact that if education were to have been presented and projected from a cultural perspective and the enlightenment would be seen as a property of culture, acceptance would increase against other reservations. This could solve problems like terrorism in West and East Africa. Alas! the terrorists are Africans, and they subscribed to their cultural materials, no matter how remote. Where education is not very distinguishable or differs radically from culture and the concepts sought to be taught are reflected from the beams of culture, maybe education would not have been seen as “haram.”
In essence, Professor Alidou’s position iss that African Studies must be such that they adopt the elements and complexities of Africa and this must be seen from every bit of ideologies, methodologies, and concepts. It should not be a mere redirection of foreign discourses towards African Studies but Africans, developing African Studies to have a stronghold of global politics of knowledge. As of today, no platform has been successful in doing what the distinguished Professor Alidou is talking about. Rather, what they are doing is fund solicitation to reinforce the hegemonies. Alas! they even boast about it, using the left finger to point to one father’s house.
This is the interview report with a panel comprising Professors Richard Joseph, Ousseina Alidou, and Ken Harrow on November 19, 2023. For the transcripts:
The Toyin Falola Interviews: A Conversation With Baba Elebuibon (1)
By Toyin Falola
There is a high number of intellectuals based outside of the University system. The Yoruba have produced many of them since the nineteenth century. Almost twenty-three years ago, I published a book, Yoruba Gurus: Indigenous Production of Knowledge in Africa, to reflect on a handful of them. Many do not use print media but stay within the boundaries of orality. The significance of their work is impressive.
As clearly demonstrated in Yoruba Gurus, the concepts around the ideas of intellectualism transcend the walls of universities. In fact, many of the known world changers in antiquities have emerged, not only within laboratories or the leaves of books but also some points of discoveries and depth of enlightenment gained from their continuous career and skill engagements. Hence, while the world respects academic scholars in discourses around sensitive issues, organic intellectuals who have climbed upward the ladders of authority give more practical insights into the arrays of discussions. This is the position High Chief Ifayemi Osundagbonu Elebuibon has occupied in the Nigerian and Yoruba metaphysical discourses and epistemologies.
High Chief Ifáyẹmí Ọ̀ṣúndàgbonù Elebuibon
The crust of African intellectualism was built from organic sources, and this made it difficult for the early missionaries and colonial explorers to understand the intellectual holdings of the continent and its people with diverse cultures. Really, African educational and academic systems that predated colonialism and European invasions can be appreciated, but some include technical knowledge and wisdom passed along professional lines. For instance, the concepts of theoretical physics may not be well understood if the bounds of that discipline are held strictly. However, old African knowledge of physics is seen in the experimental and professional developments. You might not be able to do something without being an outright performer of the same.
Hence, an African scientist is a professional in the area of science a modern scientist would have wanted to expand. For instance, you are better appreciated as a political scientist if you have not been within the folds of politics, and society would also help to draw you closer to the said profession. Medicine, for instance, flourished in Africa, and the development of much medical knowledge in Africa did not come from the galleries of stand-alone research, but trials and errors, as well as long years of discoveries and new cases, have brought about tweaks to medical practices. Hence, with the advancement in pedagogy, intellectualism, and scholarship, one must not be distracted by seemingly new methods but must grasp the travails and prevalence of organic intellectualism to fill in the gaps that could have been discovered in the scholarly cultural comparison.
Africa is a dynamic continent. Its greatness lies not only in the abundance of its landscape and resources but in the diverse cultures and traditions seen in its people at all times. The untapped potential of the large numbers that form the population makes it stand tall with strength, innovative abilities, creativity, and the unifying spirit of its people that transcends the borders of nations. An inspiration to those who understand this dynamic. The world has witnessed the greatness of the second-largest continent many times, from its savannahs to the rainforest and desert in the Sahel. The continent has greatly contributed to humanity distinctly.
The silent forces undisclosed to many that drive this progress and resilience seen today can only be attributed to the host of organic intellectuals that the continent harbors. This variant of intellectualism is such that no other part of the world seeks to compete with it. This is not to say that Africa maintains a monopoly of the phenomenon, but the intellectual and epistemological understanding of the continent is married to organic intellectuals and, in comparison to the preponderance in other cultures, it takes the front roll. Despite the shortfalls that marred the geometric sequence of growth, Africa still boasts of organic intellectualism that is deeply rooted in the local pearls of wisdom, cultures, beliefs, and local experiences of fellow Africans. It is an inclusive aspect of African existence that taps its resources from within. Making it easier to adopt, unlike formal education that’s embedded in premeditated syllabuses and curricula unknown to the majority.
Due to the large divergence, Africa is rich in culture and cultural elements. Even at that, the unity in diversity here is second to none. This explains why diverse experiences frequently have common grounds, passing the same message and value. Organic intellectualism is visible in every aspect of African existence. This has allowed the reengineering and rebalancing of the African knowledge systems and understanding to be easy as well as necessary. For instance, the practice of communal cohabiting and the promotion of extended family lifestyles is a result of the wisdom of organic practices. This wisdom to have family members of various age groups cohabit in large compounds is of numerous benefits. Apart from the practical purposes of shared responsibilities and resources, communal existence also fosters social benefits that allow younger relatives to tap from the wisdom of their elders through the transmission of values, cultural beliefs, skills, knowledge of medicine, religion, and interpersonal skills from the former to the latter. This bolsters interconnectivity amongst the family unit, where the knowledge acquired shapes individual interactions with others. A blissful experience from the far cry we have today, where formal institutions have taken the bulk of family time and lifestyles where modern kids now have issues relating to their heritages.
The family has always been a school, and the passing of the encoded knowledge within the family ethos and subscribed trades grow different individuals to drive out reasonable examples for discourses on organic intellectualism. Ifa priesthood, blacksmiths, agricultural science, and other sciences that, today, need to be learned in lumped-up years of continuous assessments and laboratory experiments are informally injected into the social bloodstream of every African child.
Ifa and the practices around it have posed challenges difficult to understand for those who try to view it from the lenses of modern science or objective texts of social or scientific formula. This is because, it is both science, philosophy, history, metaphysics, and other systems embedded in one. Its complexity and influence on the ideological subscriptions of Africans have made it difficult to discard. It has proven to be a knowledge system that is not taught in schools but by professionals who have learned the wisdom of divinity, especially from the cultural hands-downs of families have shown the science and logic in it. Like the error the early modern intellectuals ran into, it would be easy to discard the practices because of their non-conformity with the test of modern and global science, but approaches to organic intellectuals that have both scientific and mythical understanding of the Ifa science and research has been able to explore the unexhausted particularities of its relevance.
From the above, one would see how African wisdom has rested much on organic intellectuals, but the question now is, how has Africa fared in contemporary knowledge distribution? As posited earlier, organic intellectualism is not geographically limited or time-bound; it is a phenomenon that grows and expands with age, space, time, and profession. Every profession has organic intellectuals and their relevance will always be appreciated than many of the scholars in the academia. African concepts of organic intellectualism and intellectuals persist today, and the social systems, as seen everywhere, grow.
The relevance of African organic intellectualism impacts the immediate environment. The fields of agriculture and healthcare are two ways in which African wisdom and knowledge have been impacted. Through many generations, African farmers have been able to combat problems of food scarcity through the adoption of agroforestry. A system that allows the co-cultivation of food crops, trees, and even animals on land. This practice is very popular in Africa, especially in the semi-arid areas of West Africa. This approach allows for the conservation of resources, diversifying crop yields, and enhancing food security. The interesting aspect of it all is the wisdom displayed by these farmers to draw from local knowledge in adapting to the specific needs and conditions of the community. The health industry has also fared well through local knowledge. The adoption of local healing methods, herbs, and roots to care for the sick birthed health services that meet the specific needs of the community. This has further reduced the hardships in accessing good healthcare, as most healing materials can be accessed easily. The various practices are still evident in the local societies, but the influx of modern technologies and techniques without looking for inward approaches towards solutions is exhumed by these organic intellectuals.
One other modern dynamic is the fact that many of the African organic intellectuals do not form the folds of high-level scholarships; they do not have doctoral degrees and some have not been able to even get any degrees. This has thwarted their possibilities of climbing the needed social ladder of influence that would make their opinions count. Going through a huge part of Northern Nigeria, one would see different ways by which agriculture is being practiced, and several of the locals have acquired real knowledge that could form global agricultural changes. This is applicable to other sectors of African societies, and the country is not making efforts to expand the gems of knowledge these people hold.
Where local content and raw professionalism meet opportunity, society tends to enjoy top-notch knowledge without reserves. This brings about the Toyin Falola Interviews’ attempt to use public history to narrate African knowledge from raw organic intellectualism. Many African cultures have been explained from the vantage points of books, documentaries, and research that has gone through global methodologies, but there is a need to take a pause and call in major partakers of the phenomenon to understand the real state of things. In this effort, the series has invited High Chief Ifayemi Osundagbonu, Elebuibon, to move discourses about African metaphysics forward.
Elebuibon has been able to distinguish himself as one of the resource points in African metaphysics and epistemologies and has married practices with need. As a priest, author, poet, linguist, and even an artist, he has been able to make remarkable attempts at creating African consciousness. Elebuibon’s films and plays have been met with accolades as one of the closest links to originality and raw African knowledge. He exudes knowledge as it is or should be and not merely knowledge as observed which kills history. This has informed the decision of the Toyin Falola Interviews to invite him to discuss Ifa and Yoruba Metaphysics on December 3rd, 2023.
Please join us for a conversation with the world-famous Ifa priest, writer, poet, author, and linguist, High Chief Ifáyẹmí Ọ̀ṣúndàgbonù Elebuibon.
Sunday, December 3, 2023
5:00 PM Nigeria
10:00 AM Austin CST
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Toyin Falola Interviews To Hold Panel Discussion On African Literature And The Digital World
The Toyin Falola Interviews is set to hold a Panel Discussion on African Literature and the Digital World in collaboration with Pan-African Writers Association (PAWA).
The event to be led by distinguished panelists for a panel discussion on African Literature and the Digital World is in commemoration of International African Writers Day.
The session is billed for November 12, 2023 at 5 PM Nigeria // 4 PM Ghana // 10 AM Austin.
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NEW TIMES CULTURE
OAU’s Honours: Falola, The Iwin Of African Scholarship
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