Listening to Ourselves

A Multilingual Anthology of African Philosophy

Edited by Chike Jeffers
Foreword by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Subjects: Philosophy, African Studies, Indigenous Studies
Series: SUNY series in Living Indigenous Philosophies
Paperback : 9781438447445, 214 pages, July 2014
Hardcover : 9781438447438, 214 pages, September 2013

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Table of contents

Foreword: A Historic First
Ngũgĩ was Thiong’o
Dëgg ak ludul dëgg: Waxtaan digante Soxna ak càmmiñam Ngóór
Truth and Untruth: A Conversation Between Soxna and Her Friend Ngóór
Souleymane Bachir Diagne
የኢትዮጵያ ጊዜ ግንዛቤና ዘመናዊነት
The Ethiopian Conception of Time and Modernity
Messay Kebede
Ngero ok Rias: Kaka Puonj mar Ngero Chalo, Kendo Kaka Ngero Opogore gi Pimo Wach
A Proverb Never Lies: On the Nature of Proverbs and How They Differ from Propositions
D. A. Masolo
Ang’o Man e Nying’? Okange Ang’wen Mag Nyinge e Oganda Luo
What’s in a Name? Four Levels of Naming among the Luo People
F. Ochieng’-Odhiambo
Kũgeria Mĩario: Atumia, Ciana, Mbũri, Mĩgũnda
Conversations: Women, Children, Goats, Land
Betty Wambui
Okwu na Uche
Word and Mind
Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze
Papa ne Bone
Good and Evil
Kwasi Wiredu

Contemporary African philosophy in indigenous African languages and English translation.


A groundbreaking contribution to the discipline of philosophy, this volume presents a collection of philosophical essays written in indigenous African languages by professional African philosophers with English translations on the facing pages—demonstrating the linguistic and conceptual resources of African languages for a distinctly African philosophy. Hailing from five different countries and writing in six different languages, the seven authors featured include some of the most prominent African philosophers of our time. They address a range of topics, including the nature of truth, different ways of conceiving time, the linguistic status of proverbs, how naming practices work, gender equality and inequality in traditional society, the relationship between language and thought, and the extent to which morality is universal or culturally variable.

Chike Jeffers is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Dalhousie University in Halifax.


"…Chike Jeffers has laid to rest the questions as to whether written modern philosophy is possible in African languages. " — from the Foreword by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

"This book is well worth reading even for those who … cannot read the African texts themselves. " — Science and Society

"…the essays raise many philosophical issues that are of interest to both African and non-African audiences. The translations will be especially useful for language learning instruction between English and the languages represented. Let us hope more like this will follow. It is a research program with many benefits. " — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews