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Mental Alienation and African Identity: Exploring Historical Perspectives in Response to the Crises of African Societies

DOI: 10.4236/ojpp.2017.71001, PP. 1-24

Keywords: Africa, Colonialism, Domination, Identity, Mental Alienation, Morality, Yoruba

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This paper argues that the colonially-motivated alienation of the African mind, which plays a major role in the moral crisis, corruption, war and anarchy on the African continent, makes the possibility of a true African identity uncertain. Writers often premise African identity on historical, cultural and psychological factors but these factors now appear to be weak constituents of this identity because of severe crisis facing the moral and communitarian foundations on which this identity rests. The present problem of the African state is dual-natured. First is that her rich moral heritage of dignity, discipline, diligence, faithfulness, honesty and sound integrity is being eroded. Second is that the spate of intolerance sweeping across some parts of Africa, resulting from unmitigated acceptance of alien western doctrines inappropriate for her culture, grossly infests her systems with a high level of intolerance and anarchy capable of making her social order like Hobbes’ state of nature in which human life is “nasty, brutish and short.” These situations, worst still, have horridly affected the meaningful and constructive development of the continent and rank her people among the poorest in the world, despite her rich natural and human resources. Using the critical and argumentative methods of empirical, conceptual and historical analysis, this paper explores the rich moral background of the Yorùbás, among other cultures, as case study, and urges a return to the moral ideals that once dominated and characterized African states.


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