An in depth study of how many conceptions of African studies have been invented and formulated by the powers that be, to disenfranchise us and keep us in perpetual bondage. We must know how we are trapped in order to formulate Ways of being free. This is essentially about the power of definition and also the decolonization of Knowledge production. The author states:
“The book attempts, therefore, a sort of archaeology of African gnosis as a system of knowledge in which major philosophical questions recently have arisen: first,concerning the form, the content, and the style of “Africanizing” knowledge; second, concerning the status of traditional systems of thought and their possible relation to the normative genre of knowledge.
From the first chapters, which interrogate Western images of Africa, through the chapters analyzing the power of anthropologists, missionaries, and ideologists, to the last, on philosophy, I am directly concerned with the processes of transformation of types of knowledge.
This orientation has two consequences: on the one hand, an apparent attenuation
of the originality of African contributions and, on the other, an overemphasis upon external procedures, such as anthropological or religious influences.
The fact of the matter is that, until now, Western interpreters as well as African analysts have been using categories and conceptual systems which depend on a Western epistemological order.
Even in the most explicitly “Afrocentric” descriptions, models of analysis
explicitly or implicitly, knowingly or unknowingly, refer to the same order.
Does this mean that African Weltanschauungen and African traditional systems of thought are unthinkable and cannot be made explicit within the framework of their own rationality?
My own claim is that thus far the ways in which they have been evaluated and the means used to explain them relate to theories and methods whose constraints, rules, and systems of operation suppose a non-African epistemological locus. From this viewpoint the claim of some African philosophers such as O. Bimwenyi (1981a) and E Eboussi-Boulaga (1981) that they represent an epistemological hiatus should be taken seriously. What does this mean for the field of African studies? To what extent can their perspectives modify the fact of a silent dependence on a Western episteme?
Would it then be possible to renew the notion of tradition from, let us say, a radical dispersion of African cultures?
These are the most important issues in the debate on African philosophy.
They oblige me to clarify immediately my position about representatives of African gnosis.
Who is speaking about it? Who has the right and the credentials to produce it,
describe it, comment upon it, or at least present opinions about it? No one takes offense if an anthropologist is questioned.
But strangely enough, Africanists-and among them anthropologists-have decided to separate the “real” African from the westernized African and to rely strictly upon the first.
Rejecting this myth of the “man in the bush,” J. Jahn chose to “turn to those Africans who have their own opinion and who will determine the future of Africa: those, in other words, of whom it is said that they are trying to revive the African tradition” (Jahn, (1961:16).
Yet, Jahn’s decision seems exaggerated.”