There is either failure or omission in the social sciences and humanities to entertain the idea that African political actions have behind them distinct traditions of thought, grounded in moral predicates that reflect time and the material conditions of existence. One way to cast aside African thought and ethical and moral systems is to present them as strings of legendary exceptions of heroism and humanity. In this context, I wish to revisit the last paragraph of Nelson Mandela’s speech as a moment and instantiation of a longstanding and uniquely African expression of humanism. I do so not to praise what was obviously political pragmatism and humane; but to suggest that the poverty of thought today and the violence that flows from it is also a consequence of the failure of scholars to provide answers to universal human dilemmas by looking for solutions in archives, canons, and traditions that partly generated the crises besetting the world today.
Siba N’Zatioula Grovogui is Professor of International Relations Theory and African Political Thought at Cornell University in the United States of America. He is also the Nelson Mandela Visiting Professor in the Department of Political and International Studies at Rhodes University for 2020 and 2021.
Date: 29 July 2022
Time: 11:00 am – 13:00pm (GMT+2)
Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this project supports research and curriculum debates which consider anew how political theory and philosophy might be thought of in the wake of the criticisms of its Eurocentric foundations.
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