From the time it was first discovered till when it received a historical and academic coverage and acceptance, African Philosophy as a discipline has always been caught in a web of controversy. Some philosophical systems that sprang up to save the situation were not left out in the quagmire. Then came Edeh's philosophy which did not get lost in the debate of originality, authenticity, Africanity, methodology and periodization but simply went to the crux of the matter by doing the philosophical enterprise through an Igbo-African perspective. Customarily, every good philosophy must have the capacity of researchability.
In view of this, Aspects of Edeh's Philosophy is a continuous series that sees through the waves of Edeh's philosophical stand. It is evident that Edeh's thoughts permeate virtually every aspect of African culture.
Though in-exhaustive, it remains the seminal germ of intellectual inquiry into all that is African. This series, being undertaken by the Faculty of Philosophy, Madonna University, Okija, is quite revealing and is aimed at exposing, critiquing and extending the debates on Igbo Metaphysics.
It highlights and furthers the salient aspects of Edeh's philosophy. The articles in this series have meticulously examined and reexamined Edeh's view on critical issues such as Igbo idea of life and death, justification of punishment, and complementarity on Igbo individualism. Edeh's view and practice of charity, dialogue between Africa and outsiders, his philosophy of being, the role of proverbs in Igbo Metaphysics, and on the missing link between Catholic Theology and African Traditional Religion (ATR) are examined Aspects of Edeh's Philosophy is a search for African truths in the light of Edeh's philosophy.
AFRICAN PHILOSOPHY: Contemporary Trends
African philosophy as articulated through Edeh's historic Metaphysics has many dimensions from which the contemporary trends emerged. Every authentic philosophy normally grows with time and African philosophy is no exception. With the passage of time thinkers have discovered that in African philosophy as typified in Edeh's work, everything is related to everything else. There is relatedness in reality. This theory of relationality in Edeh's philosophy has far reaching implications. God is the maker of all things.
Hence, everything comes from God the source of beings. Nothing comes into existence without the source of beings namely God. This seems theological and religious. From this religious angle some people may criticise the African notion of connectedness as typified in Edeh but every authentic philosophy gravitates between man and God, the visible and the invisible, between the phenomenon and the noumenon. Even within the same sphere there are inseparable relations among the members because ife kwulu ife akwudebe ya, indicating that nothing is alone on its own. This is interconnectedness in African philosophy. On account of this realisation therefore no entity can claim independence from God or from one another any time anywhere. Interconnectedness sustained in African philosophy of Edeh led to the contemporary debates, deliberations and discussions on the various disciplines which gave us this volume. It contains such connections as: Unity of Ontology and Edeh's Metaphysics of Action, Edeh's Philosophy and Leadership, Edeh's Philosophy and History, Edeh's Philosophy and Arts, Edeh's Philosophy and Development, Edeh's Philosophy and Medicine, Edeh's Philosophy and Public Health, Administration and Management in Edeh's Philosophy and Communalism in African Cosmology in Edeh's Philosophy.
Development of any society demands a careful examination of that society's relationship with the divine from where every member of the polis derives being, existence and sustenance. Leaders of communities in Africa and beyond have to know this truth in order to steer the community canoe to its desired destination. No matter the area of life one wishes to consider in Africa there is always a relation between it and the African philosophy especially as seen in Edeh's Metaphysics. Nevertheless, the key point is not just about knowing the connectedness of the different areas of life in Africa but acting accordingly. For instance, Medicine has a principle that life must be preserved at all cost. Saving the human life holds the pride of place over every other consideration whatsoever. The same rule holds in the African Philosophy where life is considered as sacred.
AUTHENTIC CATHOLIC THEOLOGY
From Igbo Metaphysics, it was possible for me to articulate African Philosophy just as it was possible for Aristotle and Plato to articulate Western Philosophy through Greek metaphysics.
In the question of authentic theology one could say that metaphysics or Philosophy is not required since theology deals more with faith than reason. Theology deals with the study of God while Philosophy concerns itself with the inquiry into reality as such. Hence Theology is defined as “Theo-logos”, the study of God and Philosophy is “Philo-sophia”, the love of wisdom. However we must note that while theology has to do with God, theological speculation cannot do without Philosophical inquiry as its basic methodology.
Theological speculation and Philosophical inquiry will seem contradictory if we include under philosophy a way of thinking which by its nature must belong to revelation and still we maintain the view that God can be known only by way of revelation and hence the question of God is actually not a problem of reason as reason. In the Western thought this position proved in the recent times to be crippling both philosophy and theology leading to the exclusion of God as a topic with which reason can properly be concerned.
If theology has to do primarily with God it must think in Philosophical terms. In this case it must be noted that philosophy precedes theology and is never subsumed by theology. Hence philosophical speculation can enter into theological speculation without being destroyed as philosophy. And theology has to do with God and thus also fulfils the ultimate task of philosophical speculation. Having gone this far, that is, knowing that theology as the study of God must involve philosophical speculation and that philosophy precedes theology we come to our theme: How does African Philosophy as articulated through Igbo Metaphysics prove itself as the basic methodology into an authentic Catholic Theology? In other words how does the African proceed from philosophical inquiry into the realm of theology speculation that is authentic to the Catholic theological teachings?
BIODATA OF A LEGEND OF OUR TIME
Life experience has shown that people are born every day and people also die every day. Each human being born into the world has a unique role to play. Some people die fulfilling the mission for which they came while others die leaving their mandate untouched. Still there are yet another set of people who not only fulfill their mission but left legacies behind for people yet unborn. People in this category are said to have left their foot-print on the sand of history and by so doing immortalize their names on the sand of time. Some of these outstanding personalities of our time made unrivalled contributions to knowledge, some of them excelled in the area of human development, some made marks through their unparalleled leadership qualities, and some thrilled the world with their humanitarian works.
In human history, people like Plato, Aristotle and great thinkers of old contributed immensely to man's quest for knowledge. The birth of science and technology brought a paradigm shift to the rate of human development. Right from the earliest mathematicians that the world has ever produced, those who contributed to the growth of human knowledge have pride of place in the history of thought. Consequently they are appreciated for their intellectual contributions to learning. In the area of selfless leadership, renowned individuals have also made appreciable impact by improving significantly on the lives of those they were leading; an act which has accorded them recognition across the globe. The same thing is applicable to some individuals known for humanitarian works. In other words, the world values good works that aim at uplifting the human society.
If an individual is commended for performing as well as bringing a singular act to its heroic degree, I request your patience as we survey the life and works of a legend of our time. This is a man who has not only excelled in his contributions to learning but has also touched other aspects that can earn an individual, world recognition. Meet therefore, a humble priest of God of Roman Catholic extraction; the man who first articulated African Philosophy, youth animator, a servant-leader, a founder of many Religious Foundations, founder of many educational institutions, founder of the Most Famous Reconciliation Centre in Africa, and many more.
This is a man who does not count the cost in giving inasmuch as the beneficiary is revived. Here is a man who has empowered so many people in diverse ways: physically, socially, mentally, spiritually, and educationally. You are about to encounter a "Millennium Gift" to Mankind. A man who has through his life and works touched the lives of millions of people and has been described as a "Giant of Peace" by his people. As a Priest, he is gifted with "Effective Intercession" in prayer. No wonder so many people are seen gathering around him and he does for them that which he knows how best to do; that is, giving peace and consolation to the troubled minds; peace to broken homes, peace to families, peace to towns and villages, peace to the society, and indeed peace to the Modern World.
It is my pleasure to introduce to you my cherished reader, a legend of our time: Very Rev Fr Prof Emmanuel Matthew Paul Edeh. Each chapter of this work, I promise, will make you yearn for the next, so read on!
PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIETY SERIES
By any serious historical calculation one can understand that various countries and continents of the world have had various individuals whose intellectual cum curious contributions shaped and re-shaped the human society down through the ages. For instance, Augustine of Hippo was an intelligent and intellectual instrument through whom the world got the glowing solution to the problem raised by Pelagius those who thought and taught that human beings can do their daily dealings without the grace of God. Pelagius was an ascetic who denied the need for divine aid in performing good works. For him, the only grace necessary was the declaration of the law; humans were not wounded by Adam's sin and were perfectly able to fulfill the law apart from any divine aid.
He was well educated, fluent in both Greek and Latin, and learned in theology. He spent time as an ascetic, focusing on practical asceticism, which his teachings clearly reflect. He was certainly well known in Rome, both for the harsh asceticism of his public life as well as the power and persuasiveness of his speech. His reputation in Rome earned him praise early in his career even from such pillars of the Church as Augustine, who referred to him as a "saintly man."
Servant-Leader Emmanuel M P Edeh
An Inspiration in Youth Empowerment
- The Nigerian Experience -
Fr. Edeh has been acknowledged as one of the greatest personalities that empowers the youths through his educational institutions which are built on the two strong pillars of academic and moral excellence. He took cognizance of the fact that good education without good morals is not only deficient but is like a time-bomb, an accident waiting to happen. He ventured into private tertiary education when the educational system of the country was at its worst. The time was ripe for an intervention like his in the national education system. Who else had the guts to challenge the system. He had a vision and mission to save the Nigerian educational system from total collapse.
With a clear picture of what he wants to achieve in mind, he decided not to depend on public or government funding, because he who pays the piper dictates the tune. He did not want that influence and control. He preferred to rely on his God, God-given gifts/talents and personal industry to face this daunting task of restoring the educational system to its former glory. At the time, his vision and mission, in some quarters, met with ridicule as a mission impossible or doomed to fail. He did not allow himself to be discouraged or dissuaded; he would not take "no" for an answer. His theme song was and still is: "I must succeed; I must succeed; In the name of Jesus, I must succeed; I must succeed". The One in whom he has put his trust has not disappointed him and will not disappoint him. His works and achievements thus far speak for him.
He has been referred to, in a number of occasions, as a servant-leader. We shall explore the concept of servant-leadership and attempt an assessment and evaluation of the life and works of Fr. Emmanuel M P Edeh using the ten characteristics of servant-leadership as a framework.
As a servant-leader, Fr. Edeh has been acclaimed as an inspiration in youth empowerment and poverty alleviation. Part of the objective of this work is to examine how justifiable this claim is.
THE CHURCH OF JESUS THE SAVIOUR IN AFRICA
Following the publication of the 'Ecclesia in Africa' in 1996, the church in Africa has felt an urgent need to recommit herself whole heartedly to the work of reconciliation, justice and peace throughout the continent.
As the Second Synod for Africa draws near it became evident the need for an international theological convention that would gather together various ecclesiastical dignitaries, priests, religious and dignified philosophers, theologians and other distinguished academics from Africa and beyond to put heads together to bring out the actual present situation of the Church-family of God in Africa.
The result of this urgency was the theological convention in preparation for the Second Synod for Africa organized at the Pilgrimage Centre for Eucharistic Adoration and Special Marian Devotion, Elele. This was a very well organized convention that attracted many great thinkers of the church from Nigeria, other African countries and Rome. Many of the well researched and thought-provoking presentations made by the various delegates are published in this book which will be made available free of charge to almost all the synod participants as part of the contribution by the Catholic Prayer Ministry of the Holy Spirit Elele, Nigeria.
Going through the presentations the following very salient points are made:-
In his key-note address to the convention the Metropolitan Archbishop of Calabar Province Most Rev. Dr. J.E. Ukpo observes that Lk. 4:14-22 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the Good News to the afflicted…" concretize the message for the forthcoming synod. According to him, this synod is imperative in our time. It is ripe for the Church in Africa to stake herself in the service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. Reconciliation, Justice and Peace are exactly what Christ referred to when he said in the gospel of Lk. 4:21: "this is being fulfilled today even while you are listening" (P3). The Church in Africa should be able to identify herself with this same service that the anointed Son of God performed to the "approval of all". The Church in Africa is challenged to work for the goals of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.
The question to which way, Africa?" has never garnered the interest as it is in this twenty – first century. All of a sudden, Africa, the ancient superservant, is becoming a central focus and a major player in the modern world political economy. The world superpowers have rediscovered emerging African markets, and the competition between America and china gives credence to Africa's advantage. African people and their leaders have come of age, it is extremely difficult to beat or outwit modern Africa in this global economy and political quagmire without the corporation of African leaders. This indeed is the era Africa will regain her ancient glories and superservant stature.
The clarion call is a clamor for Africa to serve again. It is a clamor for pervasive peace, cooperation, self-contentment, mma-di, and Ubuntu philosophy, a philosophy that is akin to altruistic tendencies and servant-first orientation. Africa has always been a welcoming and friendly servant continent in and throughout history and, sometimes, to her detriment. But a superservant is not outdone in service and hospitality. The rule of this seemingly second missionary project has African people's eyes wide open as the two major players relatively resolve to play fair.
The ball is in Africa's court. African leaders cannot play the game of a novice in this unique African century. This means that Africa must come up with unique policy and principles that are fundamentally African and globally equivocal to enable her participate on equal pedestal. The term is flipped pyramid leadership structure and replaced with a superservant leadership mind-set anchored in "equatic" theory. It will be empowered by liberators such as Mandela, Tutu, Edeh, MLK, and Lincoln, who championed the course of emancipation of those in the lower cadet of the traditional pyramid structure. Read how flip the pyramid leadership campaign of Emmanuel Edeh balances out the global in-equilibrium and extol those principles championed in American empire. Watch out how Africa, the continent of light, rises to fulfill her role as the world hope.
THE DIGNITY OF MAN IN AFRICAN METAPHYSICS AS EPITOMIZED IN EPTAISM
One of the world's most renowned anthropologists Thomas Quantry was confronted with the question: what is most worthy of awe and wonder in this theater of the world? He answered, "There is nothing to see more wonderful than man"1
In the same vein, when Prof. E.M.P Edeh (the articulator of African philosophy) in his field work put this question to one of his informants: kedu k'isi malu na ife di? (How do you know that beings are?), the answer was: Emegi ife ozo, amalum nkea maka na madu di, maka n' anyi di (I know this at least from the fact that human beings are. We are
This points to the fact that human beings exist and not just that, but also that man occupies an important position in the universe and consequently exists in a higher magnitude as compared to other creatures. For one to capture and present what is truly an African way of viewing life and existence, beings and Being, one has to come to grips with the interplay of thought and action. For the African, philosophy is the way of life expressed in the people's rituals, language, and other cultural manifestations. This philosophy gives people the ideal of human existence, and specifically an ideal of human dignity based upon the belief that all beings created by God are ontologically good and deserving respect. Man who is a 'homo religiosus' is cared for and supported by God. Hence he enjoys a position of high dignity conferred on him from creation.
In African metaphysics, the attentive mind discerns a reflection of that God-man-world scheme. It is this God-man-world scheme that is clearly presented in Igbo metaphysics. And it is this that gives credence to the dignity of human beings and human existence.
Towards an Igbo Metaphysics
Western philosophy began with the Greeks. Greek philosophy was formally presented by figures like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Their presentations consisted primarily in Attempts to develop a systematic position on the basis of philosophical speculation: a cosmology, ontology, and the like.
For a while now there has been much talk about African philosophy (African thought). The idea of African philosophy will ever remain a figment of the imagination until it is formally presented by a people of Africa just as Western philosophy was presented by the Greeks. The aim of this study is to attempt a presentation of African philosophy by a people of Africa (the Igbos). My effort will consist of a presentation of Igbo metaphysical thought patterns.
People who have written on African philosophy are fond of making the distinction between ancient, traditional, and modem African philosophy. In this maiden work on Igbo metaphysics I will not ignore these distinctions. Yet my discussion will not be explicitly organized under these themes. My intention is to cut across them. I treat the metaphysical aspect of Igbo philosophy as it stands now. This does not mean discussing the thought-pattern of the modem Igbos as affected by Western trends of thought. Rather, the intention is to investigate the Igbo metaphysics as it is at present, that is, as the product of its past. Hence, I will present the Igbo metaphysical thought-content as the culmination of its ancient and traditional stages. What I am doing, therefore, is the contemporary metaphysics of the Igbo people with due regard to the ancient and traditional thought patterns.