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Lolan Sagoe- Moses Political and Social Thought

Application

The Challenge of African Nationalism

“Taxi! Taxi!” My mother shouted. The driver sped towards us, then
suddenly he stopped and began reversing. For a moment I stared at
the taxi in amazement and then I looked beyond the driver, and I
understood. About ten feet behind the cab, was an “obroni,” a
foreigner . In the taxi driver’s opinion, Ghanaian equaled poor,
powerless. ”Obroni” equaled rich and worthy. Forty-two years after
independence, no sense of national pride. That and other frequent
expressions of national apathy launched me on a journey to discover
my national identity.

I seek to join the P.S.T program because my journey of


discovery is not simply intellectual, it is also deeply personal. P.S.T
shall allow me to live my own thesis, as an aspiring Africanist political
philosopher, surrounded by colleagues influenced by Western political
thought and studying in an institution where Africanist thought is given
the backseat.

The challenge of developing national consciousness in Africa


has been approached on two levels. At the leadership level it has taken
the form of political philosophies of unity such as Nyerere’s Ujamaa.
These reject neo-colonial ideologies of individual accumulation and
assert an intrinsically African communal ethos.

Unfortunately they have been sidelined in favor of the individualist


theories advocated by Africa’s international “development
partners” .

At the popular level, nations must unite multiple ethnic networks


into a cogent national culture while simultaneously striving for a Pan-
African nationalist identity. Just as African political philosophies have
been ignored internationally, they have been sidelined as guides for
national culture programs.
Lolan Sagoe- Moses Political and Social Thought
Application

However, the development of nationalism, previously pursued


through education has proved problematic. American historian James
Loewen writes: “Nationalism is one of the (causes of poor historical textbooks ,,
resulting in content muddled by the conflicting desires to promote inquiry and
indoctrinate blind patriotism.”1 Can African policy-makers then develop a
strong sense of nation-hood and an intellectual tradition based on
African philosophies through educational curricula? That remains my
central question. My intellectual journey shall involve studying African
political philosophies within the global political paradigm of Western
capitalism and socialism, determining whether African philosophies
can serve as the basis for the socio-cultural development of
nationalism and examining educational curricula as a medium to
achieve this aim.

I believe the P.S.T program is best suited to guide me


towards this goal. The open-mindedness with which most P.S.T majors
approach their diverse views shall spur me to be equally critical of my
positions, as I shall be of theirs. Therein lies the attraction of the
seminar and discussion based component of the program, for though
there is much to be gained from textual study, my fellow students will
provide the constant insight of participants in the very political
phenomena I hope to examine. P.S.T shall give me theoretical the tools
to actively engage with my worlds – both the African one, and the
global one in which Africa now exists – and to chart the new path that
it so urgently needs.

1
James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me (New York : Touchstone,
1995,2007).
Lolan Sagoe- Moses Political and Social Thought
Application