•  724
    African Sage Philosophy and Socrates: Midwifery and Method
    International Philosophical Quarterly 42 (2): 177-192. 2002.
    The paper explores the methodology and goals of H. Odera Oruka’s sage philosophy project. Oruka interviewed wise persons who were mostly illiterate and from the rural areas of Kenya to show that a long tradition of critical thinking and philosophizing exists in Africa, even if there is no written record. His descriptions of the role of the academic philosopher turned interviewer varied, emphasizing their refraining from imposition of their own views, their adding their own ideas, or their midwif…Read more
  •  670
    Globalization and the Crisis in Detroit
    Perspectives on Global Development and Technology 15 (1-2): 261-77. 2015.
    This article reviews the recent crisis in Detroit focusing on the placement of an Emergency Manager in charge of financial decisions, and a bankruptcy process. This political disenfranchisement harmed the pensions of city employees and offered valuable real estate to investors at low prices. While the crisis was long in the making, with deindustrialization and residential segregation beginning in the 1950s, the crisis was exacerbated in 2008 with the mortgage crisis and with water shut-offs to r…Read more
  •  529
    H. Odera Oruka on moral reasoning
    Journal of Value Inquiry 34 (4): 517-528. 2000.
    It is worth exploring the longstanding preoccupation with the future that can be found throughout H. Odera Oruka's writings, especially the writings to be found in a retrospective collection of his essays on which he was working at the time of his death, Practical Philosophy: In Search of An Ethical Minimum. This practice of tracing the future results of actions of which people are presently engaged, in order to determine whether a change of course is needed, is not something that Odera Oruka ha…Read more
  •  353
    Gandhi’s Many Influences and Collaborators
    Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 35 (2): 360-69. 2015.
    In Gandhi's Printing Press, Isabel Hofmeyr introduces readers to the nuances of the newspaper in a far-flung colony in the age when mail and news traveled by ship and when readers were encouraged by Gandhi to read slowly and deeply. This article explores the ways in which Thoreau's concept of slow reading influenced Gandhi and Hofmeyr herself. She discusses the community that surrounded Gandhi and the role it played in supporting the newspaper. Yet, I argue, the role of women of all races as wel…Read more
  •  274
    The paper applies insights from Axel Honneth's recent book, The Struggle for Recognition, to the South African situation. Honneth argues that most movements for justice are motivated by individuals' and groups' felt need for recognition. In the larger debate over the relative importance of recognition compared with distribution, a debate framed by Taylor and Fraser, Honneth is presented as the best of both worlds. His tripartite schema of recognition on the levels of love, rights and solidarity,…Read more
  •  243
    Hannah Arendt on Power, Consent, and Coercion
    The Acorn 7 (2): 24-32. 1992.
    Although Hannah Arendt is not known as an advocate of nonviolence per se, her analysis of power dynamics within and between groups closely parallels Gandhi’s. The paper shows the extent to which her insights are compatible with Gandhi’s and also defends her against charges that her description of the world is overly normative and unrealistic. Both Arendt and Gandhi insist that nonviolence is the paradigm of power in situations where people freely consent to and engage in concerted action, and bo…Read more
  •  213
    This article provides an overview of the contributions to philosophy of Nigerian philosopher Sophie Bọ´sẹ`dé Olúwọlé. The first woman to earn a philosophy PhD in Nigeria, Olúwọlé headed the Department of Philosophy at the University of Lagos before retiring to found and run the Centre for African Culture and Development. She devoted her career to studying Yoruba philosophy, translating the ancient Yoruba Ifá canon, which embodies the teachings of Orunmila, a philosopher revered as an Óríṣá in th…Read more
  •  152
    A co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, its newspaper, and hospitality houses, the writer Dorothy Day promoted public peace nationally and internationally as a journalist, an organizer of public protests, and a builder of associational communities. Drawing upon Hannah Arendt’s conceptions of the role of speech and action in creating the public realm, this paper focuses on several of Day’s most controversial public positions: her leadership of non-cooperation against Civil Defense drills in…Read more
  •  144
    The IMF, World Bank, and former colonial powers have put pressure on African countries to adopt multiparty democracy. Because of this pressure, many formerly one‐party states as well as some military dictatorships have embraced Western and Parliamentarian democratic forms. But does this mean that democracy has succeeded in Africa? Ernest Wamba‐dia‐Wamba of the University of Dar‐es‐Saalam and CODESRIA argues that embracing Western paradigms in an unthinking fashion will not bring real democracy, …Read more
  •  139
    Women's empowerment: the insights of Wangari Maathai
    Journal of Global Ethics 9 (3): 277-292. 2013.
    This paper will highlight Maathai’s insights regarding empowerment, tracing several important themes in her approach, namely, empowerment’s relationship to self esteem, teamwork, and political action, its ambivalent relationship to formal education, and the role of cultural traditions in providing alternatives to colonial-era cultural impositions and current exploitative effects of neo-liberal capitalism. After reviewing Maathai’s thoughts on each of these topics, I will briefly draw upon other …Read more
  •  137
    A constant question that arises when study in H. Odera Oruka's sage philosophy project is, who is a sage? What attributes are necessary? While Oruka tried to provide criteria for categorization of folk and philosophical sages, some critics note that the criteria is not clear, or not clearly applied. This paper focuses on Elijah Masinde, a Kenyan prophet who agitated against British colonialism in Kenya. The question of whether or not Masinde was a sage was debated by H. Odera Oruka and Chaungo B…Read more
  •  121
    Azaransky's work highlights the theological contributions of Howard Thurman, Benjamin Mays, William Stuart Nelson, Pauli Murray and Bayard Rustin. She makes a compelling case that each of these thinker-activists needs to be better appreciated for their cutting-edge theological insights based on their thought and life experience with Mohandas Gandhi and his spiritual activism. Each reinterprets their own Christian views based on this larger worldwide experience that they have gained through study…Read more
  •  112
    The article examines the role of ethnic favoritism in maldistribution of national resources in Kenya and discusses two broad proposals for attacking such corruption. Evidence drawn from research in Kenya disproves the view of Chabal and Daloz, who argue that Africans prefer to distribute goods according to ethnic ties, and shows that frustration with the lack of alternatives to such a system, rather than enthusiasm for it, drives cooperation with corrupt maldistribution. One solution to the prob…Read more
  •  92
    Soon after taking power, three leaders of nonviolent African independence movements, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia immediately turned to violent means to suppress internal opposition. The paper examines the reasons for the success of their Gandhian nonviolent tactics in ousting British colonial governments and argues that these new heads of state lost confidence in nonviolence due to a mixture of self-serving expediency, a lack of understanding …Read more
  •  79
    Compared to other ethnic groups in Kenya, the Maasai resisted working wage labor jobs, preferring to continue pastoral practices, even though “development” experts and Kenyans from other ethnic groups derided them as being “backward” and holding back the progress of the country. The phenomenon of Maasai reluctance to adapt to wage labor has been called a "conservative" trend by some, and a radical resistance by others. The British during colonialism seemed irritated and impatient with Maasai …Read more
  •  71
    “Bâtir une «culture nationale» interethnique et intergénérationnelle au Kenya”
    Diogène/Diogenes: Revue Internationale des Sciences Humaines 59 (235-236): 62-80. 2012.
    The challenges of building community based on a common identity that also respects differences has two different kinds of chasms to cross. There is the division of ethnic groups, and there is also the generational gap. Given recent problems of ethnic violence that broke out during the December 2007 elections, can contemporary Kenyans build community, coming to common understanding with others on issues such as value and identity? This is not a new problem. It has often been expressed as the need…Read more
  •  68
    Challenges of Founding a New Government in Iraq
    Constellations 12 (4): 521-541. 2005.
    Hannah Arendt argues that a revolution must not only tear down, but build up a new government. That new government needs authority and it gets its authority from its founding moment, when peers come together in mutual promise, agreeing to treat each other as equals and obeying laws which they legislate for themselves. The paper then looks at the recent attempts of the U.S. government and its allies to bring democracy to Iraq. The paper argues that given the dynamics necessary at the founding mom…Read more
  •  60
    The paper traces the parallel paths and mutual influences of these three activists in South Africa. The paper points out that Gandhi often took steps in building his movement that echoed some of the same steps that Dube had done just before him. Also, Abdurahman, who had become Gandhi's friend in 1909, advocated for involving women in nonviolent action, and advocated the use of general strike, shortly before Gandhi incorporated both methods in his movement.
  •  52
    I was invited by CARE International of Kenya to do some research on conceptions of conflict and its resolution among refugees in Kenya. Findings would help the refugees themselves in furthering their peace education project. I interviewed sixteen people, with aid of translators, on interpersonal to international issues of conflict resolution. The final report was submitted to CARE International of Kenya and representatives of U.N.H.C.R. in August of 2001. This article reflects on some of the hig…Read more
  •  51
    The paper evaluates the claims of Kwame Gyekye and Kwasi Wiredu that the Akan traditional governance structures are just as democratic or even more democratic that Western style representative democracies.
  •  47
    Ways in Which Oral Philosophy is Superior to Written Philosophy: A Look at Odera Oruka’s Rural Sages
    APA Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience 1996 (Fall): 6-10. 1996.
    The paper is about H. Odera Oruka's Sage Philosophy project. Oruka interviewed rural sages of Kenya, saying that like Socrates, these wise elders had been philosophizing without writing anything down. Paulin Hountondji (at the time) criticized efforts of oral philosophizing, saying that Africa needed a written tradition of philosophizing. Some philosophers were representatives of an "individualist" position which says that philosophical ideas must be attributed to specific named individuals. Kwa…Read more
  •  43
    Gandhi: The Meaning of the Mahatma for the Millennium (review)
    The Acorn 13 (1): 42-44. 2005.
    This is a book review of Kuruvilla Pandikattu, ed., Gandhi: The Meaning of the Mahatma for the Millennium.
  •  43
    Kenyan Sages on Equality of the Sexes
    Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya 4 (2): 111-145. 2012.
    This article traces the larger theme of egalitarianism within the context of equality of the sexes throughout H. Odera Oruka’s interviews with Kenyan sages, whom he asked to share their views on the topic. Often, the sages asserted men’s superiority to women. This paper analyses the sages’ responses, as well as Odera Oruka’s rejoinders to their comments. I have broadened my study to include five sages interviewed by Frederick Ochieng’-Odhiambo, included in his dissertation completed under Odera …Read more
  •  39
    Gandhi: The Grandfather of Confllict Transformation
    In Rhea A. DuMont, Tom H. Hastings & Emiko Noma (eds.), Conflict Transformation: Essays on Methods of Nonviolence, Mcfarland & Company. pp. 213-24. 2013.
  •  39
    Maasai Concepts of Personhood: The Roles of Recognition, Community, and Individuality
    International Studies in Philosophy 34 (2): 57-82. 2002.
    There has been a debate, popularized by Ifenyi Menkiti and Kwame Gyekye, regarding philosophical understandings of the human person in Africa. The debate revolves around the saying "So and so is not a person." Gyekye convincingly argues that the saying is a manner of speech, intended to be a moral evaluation of a person's actions. Menkiti, however, goes further and suggests that many of the African conceptions of a person are based on a dynamic understanding of the self. Similar findings were ma…Read more
  •  38
    Secularism and Rationality in Odera Oruka’s Sage Philosophy Project
    Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 28 121-128. 2008.
    Prof. H. Odera Oruka started the sage philosophy project, in which he interviewed wise elders in Kenyan rural areas to show that Africans could philosophize. He intended to create a “national culture” by drawing upon sages from different ethnic groups and he downplayed religious differences, as did Kwame Nkrumah, who had a similar goal of building “national culture” in Ghana. Both projects were secular insofar as they preferred to emphasize rationality and downplay religious belief or “superstit…Read more
  •  33
    Sartre on Violence: Curiously Ambivalent (review)
    International Studies in Philosophy 39 (4): 164-167. 2007.
    This is a review of Ronald Santoni's book, Sartre on Violence: Curiously Ambivalent. Santoni argues that Sartre is often misunderstood. He was not an advocate of violence, and always cautioned that the revolutionary's decision to use violent means must always be re-evaluated to ensure that the revolution reaches its goal. In this way, Santoni argues, the views of Sartre and Camus are actually very close on the topic of revolutionary violence, even though they are often portrayed as opposites.
  •  27
    Odera Oruka on Culture Philosophy and its role in the S.M. Otieno Burial Trial
    In Reginald M. J. Oduor, Oriare Nyarwath & Francis E. A. Owakah (eds.), Odera Oruka in the Twenty-first Century, The Council For Research in Values and Philosophy. pp. 99-118. 2018.
    This paper focuses on evaluating Odera Oruka’s role as an expert witness in customary law for the Luo community during the Nairobi, Kenya-based trial in 1987 to decide on the place of the burial of S.M. Otieno. During that trial, an understanding of Luo burial and widow guardianship (ter) practices was essential. Odera Oruka described the practices carefully and defended them against misunderstanding and stereotype. He revisited related topics in several delivered papers, published articles, and…Read more