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Thursday, October 21, 2004

A struggle for meaning

I just read the article "African Cultures and Globalisation: A Call to Resistance" by Paulin J. Hountondji, an important African philosopher based at the University of Cotonou (Benin). In it he puts forward his views about the role of language in shaping identity and politics. I shall put on my Amazon wish list his latest book: "The Struggle for Meaning: Reflections on Philosophy, Culture and Democracy in Africa" (translated by John Conteh-Morgan, Athens, Ohio University Press, 2002)

While he refers to Africans in statements like this: "For Africans, there are two forms of losing one's way: by immurement in particularism, or dispersion in the universal" he could, in fact, be talking about each one of us and not just Africans. However, it did get me thinking how much we have to learn from the people who feel a problem first or with greater intensity. And how much we have to learn it for our own survival.

The concluding sentence of his article ressonated with me: "If we do not want to end up so, we must assert a different form of globalisation than the one that now dominates. A globalisation that is not based on one centre, dictating its law to the diverse peripheries, but one which embodies numerous decision centres. Centres that negotiate with each other as equals on what must be done to build a more humane world."

However - it's one thing to say it, and yet another to do it. I guess that that's what keeps me busy!!


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