African Religions and Philosophy

Comparative Analysis of Mbiti and Oruka: The Question of Communicating African Philosophy College

The tensions between John Mbiti’s African Religions and Philosophy and Henry Odera Oruka’s Mythologies as African Philosophy speak to the greater divide between ethnophilosophy and sagacious reasoning. The former is the practice of discussing the belief systems of particular African communities or the continent as whole, therefore placing greater emphasis on collective thought than the self. The latter movement rebukes this homogeneity in favor of rational, logical, and individual thought. Oruka critiques Mbiti’s subscription to ethnophilosophy because he believes doing so mistakenly merges mythology with philosophy, an injurious practice to the advancement and development of Africa. Oruka believes that true value lies in the voices of individual philosophers converging in conversation, and mistaking traditional beliefs for philosophy focuses too much on the past and present while obstructing the future of Africa. Both trends in African philosophy have had far-reaching ramifications in terms of how Africa has been globally perceived, and the philosophers’ differing opinions seem to stem from their target audiences and their estimation of Western opinion.

Significant differences become apparent in each philosophers’ definition...

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