African Traditional Philosophies

  • Ahmed Ali Ilmi
Part of the Gender, Development and Social Change book series (GDSC)


African traditional philosophies are multiple bodies of living comprehensive knowledges which encapsulate holistic ways of knowing. In its cosmological sense, it’s the common thread which connects African peoples with their African roots. It encompasses an intergenerational ancestral connection between the living, the dead, and the unborn. It is a moral and ethical communal existence which is built upon notions of collective social responsibility to one’s clan, family, and community, their ancestors, and the Creator. From a spiritual point of view, it is about giving thanks to the Creator, to the ancestors, and to the environment. In essence, African philosophies are an everyday embodiment of Wisdom as a being who is connected to a greater purpose in life. In this chapter, I will articulate my understanding of what constitutes African philosophies as well as provide synopses of the current contemporary debates on Africa philosophies. I will then highlight the dis-positioning of African philosophies within Eurocentric institutions. I will conceptualize the foundation of African philosophies. After that I will engage in a discussion about African communalism.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ahmed Ali Ilmi
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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