Africa and Africanity Lecture Series; Identity and Equity In Africa: Religious and Ideological Perspectives

This was the first Lecture in our lecture series on 'Africa and Africanity'. This Lecture on Identity and Equity is grounded on the view, that we humans are brothers and sisters, whoever we happen to be, wherever we happen to live, wherever we happen to have come from, and whatever our means of livelihood. 

January 04, 2021

This lecture series was grounded on the view that humans are relatives of one another, and are still relatives with the rest of Creation. This Lecture on Identity and Equity is grounded on the view, that we humans are brothers and sisters, whoever we happen to be, wherever we happen to live, wherever we happen to have come from, and whatever our means of livelihood. Among the primates, we humans have the greatest brain capacity. We use it for both self-enhancement and also self-annihilation. Despite their big brains, their limbs are too weak and small in contrast with the herbivores and carnivores on land, and the big fish in the oceans. To survive, humans invented Culture, through which to regulate the conduct of all sectors of human identity. Humans have manipulated and annihilated each other. Civilizations have risen and fallen through internal decay and also through conquest by invaders. Humans have destroyed their habitat with disastrous consequences. Migrations have often resulted from the destruction of habitats at home. Humans leave their artifacts behind as they migrate. Archeologists have given us insights into our past civilizations and migrations reminding us how closely related we are.

Program Moderator:

Professor Jesse N.K. Mugambi – Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at The University of Nairobi.



Prof. Mamadou Diouf – Leitner Family Professor of African Studies. Director of Columbia University's Institute of African Studies.


Webinar Highlights:

Professor Jesse N.K. Mugambi- For centuries Africa and Africans have been labeled by others underlying those definitions is the principle of objectification in which Africa and Africans are viewed as ‘objects’ for exploitation. There are periods in history however when Africans defined themselves. In those periods the visitors came to Africa for refuge, learning, or business. This lecture focuses on Africa as an actor and author of history. (Time frame from minute 9:57- 10:53)

Professor Jesse N.K. Mugambi- The biological species called homo sapiens has one main common feature: sapience- good taste, good sense, and intelligence, latest findings indicate that homo sapiens acquired this trait in tropical Africa where the ecological conditions were ideal. This shows that we all human beings are related thus relatives. (Time frame from minute 12:19- 12:58)

Professor Jesse N.K. Mugambi- Genetic archeology reminds us that we all humans are relatives. In Africa, within the equatorial belt, we stabilized our capacity for thinking and planning. (Time frame from minute 16:40- 16:55)

Professor Jesse N.K. Mugambi- The inhumane slave trade between 1440 and 1808 shipped more than 12 million Africans to America, the recent wave of migrant workers from Africa to Europe and North America has further dispersed Africans to the North and the West. Again, the emphasis is clear that all humans are relatives. (Time frame from minute 17:52- 18:20)

Professor Jesse N.K. Mugambi- With a tongue in the cheek as a joke I have said anyone who says I come from sub-Saharan Africa, I shall say they come from sub- tundra Europe, if the African tropical desert is soo important in defining people, then the article desert can be used to define people, in that case then, Europeans come from sub tundra Europe and some Africans come from sub- Saharan Africa, it is wrong to define people by a sub-set of their territory.  (Time frame from minute 26:45- 27:23)

Professor Jesse N.K. Mugambi- There is a common agenda in the African Union from 2013 to 2063 with several aspirations, one of the most important aspirations is aspiration number five, a continent proud of its culture and identity and prepared to use it for consolidation of the continent, we need one common market, one passport, one people with many perspectives, one people with diverse creativity, one people in one continent and one people with one destiny. (Time frame from minute 40:05- 40:55)

Prof. Mamadou Diouf- The Indian ocean is very important in this discussion about the identity of a continent, is it an identity deriving from the political economy which is still today the dominant political economy, or is the Eastern part of Africa deriving its identity from the Indian ocean as opposed to Western Africa’s Atlantic ocean. (Time frame from minute 49:00- 49:40)

Prof. Mamadou Diouf- It is important to pay attention that when we talk about the naming of Africa we pay more attention to the external view, we don’t know really how Africans are dealing with themselves and with their neighbors. (Time frame from minute 51:55- 52:15)

Prof. Mamadou Diouf- I don’t personally think that continuing with the European languages and the European norms and values at the neglect of our own is an advantage, I think it’s a disadvantage, what I think should happen is to recognize our individuality and bring it out to bear a broader self-understanding and consciousness, those nations that have been successful are the ones who have embraced individuality and brought that individuality to a national level. (Time frame from minute 1:15:18- 1:16:05)