Mike Igaga jr. writes on the phylosophy espoused by the late anyiam-osigwe and the lessons to be draw there from
One of the greatest problems that confronts mankind, even in the 21st century is Africa’s continuing underdevelopment. It is no longer fashionable to indulge in data analysis to explain the depth of Africa’s developmental challenges. This is because of the inability of the continent to extricate itself from the conundrum of poverty and backwardness. The continent’s underdevelopment is also a problem to the entire world because poverty has driven many Africans into other countries and continents and in the face of challenges to their very survival. Many have indulged in activities that both endanger and offend public morality in these societies.
On the other hand, the internal wars in most of the countries in Africa have created a number of refugees, legitimate refugees that have become a burden to most other countries in the world. In another dimension, the problem of Africa’s underdevelopment has constituted a serious moral poser for many advanced countries. How do you, in all good conscience, deport a person who has literarily fled from his home country on account of harrowing conditions. Yet, most countries in the world are forced to take that position for so many reasons. The import of it all is that the question of Africa’s development crises has a global impact on the attainment of a better world order.
It needs be said that for the west, the African development crises is a given reality. It has been analysed and appreciated in the works of the philosophers in Europe particularly in France, Britain and Germany. In the view of these philosophers, Africans are sub-human as they have no capacity for rational thoughts and enquiries.
It is to this insult and denigration that African scholars responded actively particularly in the 20th century. It is in response to this vulgar degradation of the African personality that Odera Oruka et al sought to show the fallacy in the thoughts and perception of the west. In his works titled “Sage Philosophy Revisited”, Odera Oruka asserts that “Sage philosophy started as a reaction to a position which Europeans had adopted about Africa that Africans are not capable of philosophy.
This foundation has been ably provided in the unveiling of the works of Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe. In his treatise in which he avers that man is a manifestation of divine intelligence, Anyiam-Osigwe unfolds a vista of philosophical extrapolations that discusses divinity beyond any realm of contemplation by Hegel. In his works on Women as the salt of the Earth, he brings a new insight into womanhood that transcends the imaginations that Plato could ever have contemplated. This position has been vigorously acknowledged by professional philosophers who have subjected his works to vigorous intellectual appraisal; a process that has generated volumes of papers and articles in leading journals globally as well as four volumes of book works.
His ontology brings a blend in which philosophy in its abstraction finds practical manifestation in the concreteness of human existence. Anyiam-Osigwe’s works, justifiably classified in the realm of Development Philosophy brings his conjectures from the realm of abstraction to the living reality of everyday life. He wrote and gave practical expression to his theories in his earthly indulgences. In his Mission for Democracy in Africa project (MDA), he brings a practical expression to his faith in man as a moralising and rational being. Through the MDA, he evolves his evangelisation commission on “propriety as a way of life for humankind” and gives a practical expression to his assertion that man is naturally endowed with the moral will. Therefore, the basis for the perversion of democracy in Africa inter alia all other aspects of corruption in the continent are derivations from the perverted psyche of the human person.
Anyiam-Osigwe elevates the status of philosophical activity in its first order in Africa. His philosophy transcends the ethnological belief as the base of identifying the original African philosopher. In Anyiam-Osigwe’s works, thoughts and rationalism in Africa is elevated to that abstraction in which Hegel locates the absolute spirit of rationalism. At the same time, he brings philosophy to the practical theme of development theory that fulfils Descartes thesis of the cogito as the phenomena of reality; that point at which physical existence and the human developmental capacity can be apprehended and applied.
In having his works in written form, Anyiam-Osigwe gives substance and credibility to Odera Oruka’s assertion that Africa has not, in the past, been bereft of philosophers. If Anyiam-Osigwe had not the benefit of putting down his works in the pattern of western scholastic, even if he orally expresses his perspectives to Odera Oruka, Hegel and his cohorts would still have called that a no proof. But in his written works, he gives concrete expression, justification and validity to the claims of Odera Oruka that Africans not only have sage philosophers but also have the capacity for rational enquiries.
The essential point is that Anyiam-Osigwe, earned the credential of thoughts and works that derive their authenticity from their originality. His thoughts and writing did not derive from any interaction with western philosophy. In his diaries, he indicated his source of knowledge as a first order activity. He often refered to and classified his disputation as interrogation arising from knowledge that is revealed directly by divine intelligence.
Anyiam-Osigwe conveyed a distinction for himself and a redeeming effect for the African identity. Come October 23, 2012, therefore, precisely at the University of Abuja, Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe would be conferred with the academic credibility of a philosopher sage. The honour comes from no less credible a body as the Nigerian Philosophical Association, the umbrella body governing the affairs of professional or academic philosophers in Nigeria. It is indeed a historic moment for the sage who is the first African to be so honoured with the Professor Odera Oruka Award as a Sage Philosopher.
Although the award is defined as posthumous, but being opportune to investigate and partake in the Anyiam-Osigwe mindset, I wonder if men like him acknowledge death as concrete. In his words, “death is a mere change of frequency”. It is a “transition from one frequency of energy wave length to another. In his assertion that “personality survives death”, Anyiam-Osigwe explains that life is not purely the physical expression of the human person but the import of the totality of his personality conveyed in his activities, principles, propagation and commitment in the course of his or her earthly life. In his own theses, “for those whose conduct on earth is moderated by their awareness of their status as manifestations of divine intelligence, existence transcends the continuum of earthly sojourn to attain an infinite dimension whereby the moral authority conveyed by their earthly conduct sustains the complex of their personality in the consciousness of society”
He noted that all men of honour and distinction who have transited the earth continue to live in the works they engendered in their earthly sojourn even after they have physically transited. For Anyiam-Osigwe, therefore, in a deeper sense of understanding phenomena and existence, there is nothing like death. Deriving therefrom, Anyiam-Osigwe earns this award of distinction from the contributions he had made in the course of his earthly sojourn and is still making even after his transition as his works remain manifest, cogent, constructive and germane to human experience. To put it in a nutshell, Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe lives. This award is a celebration of distinction, excellence and genius in the eyes of history.
Our appreciation of this day in history should transcend the award of Sage Philosophy conferred on Anyiam-Osigwe. It has become clear that African leaders of the contemporary era are far from integrating into development theories in evolving policy frameworks. Africans need to understand that the continent’s development can best be realised within the context of the philosophical interpretation of the African reality, worldview, and her experiences conveyed in the research details of Africans. The dynamics of historicity and the syntheses of Africa’s development cannot be received from the theoretical postulations of persons who are alien to the African realities.
In Anyiam-Osigwe’s works titled Introspectionism, an Inward Looking Approach for Africa’s Development, he effectively captures the need for Africans to integrate into this mindset if the continent must evolve developmentally. In other words, theory on Africa’s development must be received from the interpretation of phenomena by Africans who have indigenised experiences and effectively understand the insight conveyed in every aspect of the African realities and experiences whether environmentally, sociologically, psychologically or in the African peculiar mystique.
Development efforts have failed for as long as we have worked with received knowledge and models. We cannot continue to recede as a race. We must move forward in a positive direction along a trajectory that is contextual to the African realities. In moving Africa positively forward, which will engender a competitive Africa, the philosopher’s role in interpreting the African realities and postulating on Africa’s development must find place and meaning. It is in this context that the works of Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe should draw the attention of African leaders to the pool of indigenous resources that are available within the bounds of philosophy which could serve as a well-spring from which they can readily draw in evolving effective and enduring paradigms for Africa’s development. This is not about Anyiam-Osigwe in exclusion, it is salutary to the African philosopher, a recourse that is the imperative driving wheel for Africa’s development.
Igaga Jr, a staff of the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation writes from Lagos