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The Toyin Falola Interviews Holds Panel Discussion on Rethinking African Literature In The Modern Era



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

Panel Discussion on Rethinking African Literature In the Modern Era


Mwamwingila Goima Peter is an author/writer of children’s and adult literature using Kiswahili. He loves different arts, especially drama and music. Mwamwingila was born in Tanzania in 1981, the fourth of five children in a family of an economist father and an accountant mother.

Although his father played a great lot in molding him to become who he is today (literature man) by giving him bedtime stories during his childhood, he and his father did not enjoy that for quite long enough since his father wanted him to take mathematics in studies and to be like him. He could do something that led them to separate because he preferred art subjects, English and History. They were enemies until when it was declared that he could never turn out to be an economist or a mathematician but an artist. Finally, his father admitted him again as he was his favorite child.

Mwamwingila did several music performances on stage and studio recording sessions between 1996-2009 (bongo flavor music), as well as acting on stage and in a drama film known as OLAIBON and LAYON as one of the key characters, a film by DHAHABU ARTS GROUP, directed by Mashaka Mkeso also known as Robert Mashal. In 2004, the film was aired internationally on various channels, including Movie Magic in South Africa. Afterward, he became interested in film preparation and started learning about script writing before he turned to book writing.

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In 2009, he started putting his literature into writing. After ten years, he published his first children’s book Chifu Mtalimbo following a special request by his son Mtalimbo, who asked him for a gift on his birthday. The boy specifically mentioned to him that he wanted Waswahili tales and not otherwise.

Because of his love for children, he made one for him and, since that year, has been publishing one after another. His published literature works are Chifu Mtalimbo, Kisa cha Punda na Pundamilia, Kisa cha Simba Mtu and Babu yangu anajua kila kitu -1. All these he wrote to promote tourism in the country.

Kisa cha Gian na Siafu is a story that teaches children knowledge about ants. In contrast, Kisa cha Panzi na Kunguru explains the importance of good governance, a lesson that helps children and adults understand better why Africa has endless civil wars that lead to a lack of peace and security. This book is also in an audible version and the most listened to by children and adults on several patriotic occasions. Although some people described it as a political novella, he suggests that it should be used to encourage children to adhere to good behaviors in daily life, such as respecting one another and selecting friends to associate with.

He has also been facilitating other writers, encouraging them to pursue their ambitions, mentoring various independent writers and those under the Mtalimbo Books Project, and serving a contract with Tanzania Fasihi Fund – TAFF, a community-based organization to mentor children who learn to write stories. Under the children’s writer program, he managed to recruit six new talents and help them by molding their ideas into stories and later publishing their collection of stories in two different books.

In 2021, he was detained in the most dangerous prison in Tanzania as a civil prisoner. This act was a major setback to businesses and his career since he lost communication with different people and organizations. Still, to him, it was a rare opportunity to learn about life in prisons.

While in prison, he managed to start a class and spend his most precious time teaching local people and foreigners how to read and write. He also taught people how to write storybooks and entertained other prisoners with novels that his friend Husein Wamayma brought him. The writers under his incubation had lost hope of achieving their writing goals, and some even abandoned writing. Still, when he got out, he managed to assist in finishing his previous project. One of his students published a book titled for TUMAINI (HOPE) about inclusive education for children with special needs.

Life in prison was severely difficult for him as he was trying to set time to write, but few arrogant jailmen could not like the idea of him spending time writing. He fought and was wonderful. He managed to write about eight children’s stories and three adult novels within six months. He is recorded saying he has never done this, yet he doesn’t think it will ever happen again. He counts it a miracle of writing speed.

At the moment, he is on the special committee of which he is one of the appointees to mobilize more writers to join together for the national writers’ association. He has been one of the writers who keep on encouraging more people to write to further African literature.

Mwamwingila took several courses, including Database Management and Designing from the University of Dar es salaam, Business Management and Entrepreneurship, Sales and Marketing, Crime investigation, Service Marketing, Legal Studies, ISO Management System Audit Techniques and Best Practices Assessment from Alison College, UK.

Mwamwingila believes in achieving his goals by assisting other people in achieving the goals first. He is born to help others, and his happiness always comes after assisting the people in need, no matter how difficult.

Please join us for a panel discussion on Rethinking African Literature in the Modern Era by the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA):

Sunday, August 7, 2022
4:00 PM GMT
5:00 PM Nigeria
11:00AM Austin CST
6:00 PM SAT
7:00 PM EAT

Register and Watch:

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



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

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: 




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The Toyin Falola Interviews: A Conversation With Baba Elebuibon (1)



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

Organic Intellectuals

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


Register and Watch:  


Join via Zoom: 


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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.

Register and Watch:

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