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Esu and African Philosophy

Olusegun Morakinyo


If Esu - the elusive ambiguous character of African folklore - epitomizes what is African in philosophy and what is philosophy as African, then one could ask the following: what defines or determines the African characteristics of philosophy as a quest for meaning; as an attempt to create self and reality? And as a corollary question: what is it to philosophize, understood as a conscious disciplined process of reflecting and probing answers to fundamental questions of human existence from an elusive, ambiguous ever paradoxical shifting terrain of articulation of Esu? Many defining features has been used to characterize the Africanness of philosophy, for instance, by the geographic origin of its protagonist, its immersion in African heritage and culture, its embedment in African languages, the sanctity of its sages and an ideological commitment to the African liberation struggle, in addition to the claim of its origin in the African civilization of ancient Egypt. However the argument I advance in this study is that what possibly best characterize philosophy in its African variant are, all and neither any single one of these features of Africanness of philosophy, but the ever shifting ambiguous locus of enunciation of African philosophy, if philosophy like the figure of Esu is defined by its liminality, paradox and ambiguity.


Esu; Epistemology; Pedagogy; Ethics

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Journal on African Philosophy. ISSN: 1533-1067 (online).
Editor: Olufemi Taiwo.

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