What is African Communitarianism? Against Consensus as a regulative ideal

  • MO Eze


In this essay, an attempt is made to re-present African Communitarianism as a discursive formation between the individual and community. It is a view which eschews the dominant position of many Africanist scholars on the primacy of the community over the individual in the ‘individual-community' debate in contemporary Africanist discourse. The relationship between the individual and community is dialogical for the identity of the individual and the community is dependent on this constitutive formation. The individual is not prior to the community and neither is the community prior to the individual. Contemporaneity explains this dialogic relationship and to argue otherwise threatens the individual's subjectivity to a vanishing point, or simply, to deny the individual a presence. On this trajectory, the politics of common good within the African value system can neither be described nor represented through consensus or unanimity but through a realist perspectivism or a worldview not held in abstraction from living traditions, cultures, and values that characterize the people(s) of sub-Saharan Africa.

South African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 27 (4) 2008: pp. 386-399

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