“I was told in my class that it is only the Westerners that have Philosophy and I was forced to find out if that is true. Philosophy expressions are human beings’ about different aspects of life. The thinking of people; what they think about man, woman, politics, religion and these thoughts of human beings are they not expressed in particular languages. The ideas of the British people are they not in English, the ideas of the French are they not in French; same with the Germans. So if Africans have ideas which we can call philosophy, will it not be in our language. You see the problem with my dear Africa. The only example, I have is in Yoruba Language. So let me correct you, Philosophy exists in all cultures of the world and not only Western. As the thinking of the British, German, French and Chinese people is their Philosophy, so is the thinking of the Yoruba people in their language, Philosophy; because for you to express philosophy, you must use a language. So if you are talking of African Philosophy, how many languages do you have in Africa? In Nigeria alone, we have 256 languages; I chose the one I know because it is the only language I know.”
83-year-old Professor Sophie Oluwole says she was taught that ‘Africans have no ideas, they cannot think, they are stupid, they have no philosophy’.
Mrs. Oluwole retired 18 years ago from the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos.
In her research that produced several books on philosophy, Ifa and Orunmila, the scholar said her goal was to correct the Western philosophers that Africans have philosophy.
Below are excerpts from her interview with New Telegraph correspondent, Flora Onwudiwe
When asked for the sources of her new ideas and why she chose to write on Ifa and other deities, she said:
“Well, during my study of philosophy, the only philosophy I was taught was Western Philosophy. That’s not all; I was always taught that Africans have no ideas, they cannot think, they are stupid, they have no philosophy, they have nothing, and each time they said that I was agitated to find out whether that is true. If you say Africans have no ideas, I was interested in finding out; is there anything in Africa.? That was how I started looking to see if I can find African ideas.”