Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies

Dr. Ada Agada (Philosophy), University of Calabar, Nigeria: The Universalization Question in African Philosophy and the Challenge of Consolationism


It has been the singular fate of African philosophy to engage in two titanic interrelated struggles simultaneously. The first struggle is the struggle of a universal reason domesticated in Africa to produce original philosophical concepts that are traceable to Africa conceived both as a physical geographical space as well as an epistemic domain of thought determined by distinctive worldviews of (black) Africans. The second is the struggle to shake off the pervasive and domineering influence of Western intellectual culture in African life, a struggle often expressed in the project called decolonisation. These struggles accentuate the famous universalism-particularism conundrum in African philosophy which challenges the African philosopher to demonstrate that African concepts, touted as unique, can be universally applicable in the sense of being epistemically relevant to humanity as a whole rather than African humanity in particular. In this talk, I disclose the magnitude of the intellectual predicament of the committed African philosopher. I will argue that the controversial universalisation requirement can be met once African philosophers cease to lament the undeniable hegemony of Western philosophy and proceed to develop individual concepts and thought-systems fit for the intercultural space of philosophical ideas in the age of globalisation. Using the system of consolationism as an example, I will attempt to show how African philosophical productions can lay claim to universalism in the search for a fuller meaning of human existence through dialogue.


Ada Agada received his doctor of philosophy degree in philosophy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is the major proponent of consolationism in African philosophy and has worked over the years to ground consolationism in traditional and contemporary African forms of thought, notably ethno-philosophy, complementarism, and Ezumezu logic. His highly original and groundbreaking work Existence and Consolation: Reinventing Ontology, Gnosis and Values in African Philosophy made the prestigious Choice Outstanding Academic Title (OAT) award list for 2015, the year of the book’s publication. Dr Agada’s articles have appeared in reputable national and international journals. He has published book chapters in notable publications released by reputable international publishers. He is the beneficiary of fellowship awards from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study. He is currently a guest-researcher at the Forum Scientiarum, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, where he is working on a book and a series of articles that seek to more clearly situate consolation philosophy in African philosophy and intercultural philosophy. He specialises in African philosophy, metaphysics, existentialism, and the philosophy of religion. Dr Agada writes poems and novels when not engaged with philosophy.