Oral tradition in African philosophical discourse: a critique of Sophie Oluwole’s account

  • AK Fayemi


This paper seeks to discuss the place of oral tradition in African philosophical discourse. In doing this, the nature of oral tradition as well as its forms is critically discussed taking into cognizance Sophie Oluwole‟s scholarship on oral tradition in African philosophy. Oluwole defends the thesis that oral tradition almost invariably contains criticisms, analysis, and rational justifications. As a consequence, she argues that one of the most acceptable ways of actually showering ancient African philosophy is direct dependence on the actual oral texts and tradition of the people. This paper exposes some of the problems in her positions and challenges, critically, the cogency of relying on oral tradition as an index of a people‟s philosophy. In spite of the various problems and limitations of oral traditions, this paper defends the position that oral traditions still offer valuable literature as philosophy, and materials for philosophizing in the African context, and elsewhere.

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eISSN: 1119-443X