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Abstract

Human nature in Africa, especially among the Yoruba, is a subject of contention in contemporary age. It is, however, important to mention that existing literature abound that suggests the Yoruba as a communalistic society. Thus, the is perceived as a corporate
entity where communal living is placed above individual existence. Against this background, Segun Ogungbemi contends in his article “An Existential Study of Individuality in Yoruba Culture” that this age-long belief about Africans being communalistic in nature seems to have reduced the possibility of individuality in Africa because it is western-directed. Using the analytical method of philosophy, this study attempts a further interrogation of Segun Ogungbemi’s perspective on the place of individuality in understanding human nature within the Yoruba cultural context. This is because, the challenge of this possibility has opened a new vista in the narrative of scholars of African studies. The idea of holistic communal nature of the Africa and Africans has been redirected such that we now have two camps on the belief system, namely radical and moderate communalism. In spite of the dichotomy and the contention of these two camps, each of them still recognises the place of community or sense of collectivity in Africa. While the radical school of thought places the community far above the individuals, the moderate school of thought is of the view that the individual makes up the society/community. Therefore, the claim is we are because I am, and since I am, therefore we are. This is against Mbiti’s view that “I am, because we are; and since we are, therefore I am.” While the latter represents the view of the radical camp, the former
is a representation of the moderate camp. It is the contention of this discourse that Ogungbemi’s postulation tends towards radicalising the individuality far above the communal nature of the essence of the individual in Africa society. Hence, a re-reading of his argument within the prism of the moderate communalism in which Ogungbemi’s contention is considered western-centric.

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How to Cite

Whither Individuality? A Re-reading of Segun Ogungbemi’s Scholarship on Individuality-Community Debate in African Philosophy. (2024). The Thinker, 99(2), 86-94. https://doi.org/10.36615/qndmjb21

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