A Compilation by Amara Esther Chimakonam
Not long ago, the world of African philosophy was thrown into mourning with the announcement of the passing away of Professor Kwasi Wiredu, who was a renowned African philosopher. He died in Florida, USA, on 7 January 2022 at the age of 90. He was born in Kumasi, Ghana, in 1931. From 1948 to 1952, he attended Adisadel College, Ghana. He obtained B.A. Hons. from the University of Ghana, legion, and B.Phil from University College, Oxford. He devoted his life to the pursuit of philosophy.
Professor Wiredu began his academic career at the University of Keele (formerly known as the University College of North Staffordshire), where he taught philosophy for a year. From 1987 to his retirement, he served as an academic staff at the University of South Florida, retiring as an Emeritus Professor of philosophy.
He will be greatly missed not only by the African philosophical community but also by the entire philosophical community for his immense contributions to philosophy and humanity. This compilation of tributes celebrates the life of a great philosopher. May his gentle soul rest in the bosom of the Ancestors.
Kwasi Wiredu (1931-2022): The Passage of a Titan
On 8 January 2022, the death of the outstanding African philosopher Kwasi Wiredu was
announced on the Conversational School of Philosophy (CSP) WhatsApp group account. The
unexpected announcement elicited a combination of shock, disbelief, sadness, and
resignation. Our resignation was complete with the confirmation of the passing of the
eminent African philosopher. The finality of death, the profundity of passage, imposed a
moment’s silence on those of us who were active online on the CSP WhatsApp Group.
After the moment of silence, I opened Wiredu’s Wikipedia page and noted his age. The great
man lived to a ripe old age. 90 is by every account a ripe old age. I told myself that this was
not a time to mourn but a time to celebrate the life of a man who gave so much to African
philosophy and worked tirelessly with his contemporaries to firmly establish the African
philosophical tradition as a thought-tradition deserving as much respect as the thought-
traditions of the West, the Chinese, the Indians, and other cultures of the world.
A thinker of remarkable acuity, Wiredu was a bright star in the African intellectual
firmament, publishing important books and articles that challenged the African philosophical
imagination, a lifetime work in the field of 20th-century African thought whose impact
continue to reverberate across the continent and the world of philosophy. Few who are
familiar with Wiredu’s thought will doubt that Wiredu has achieved lasting fame as a major
African philosopher of the 20th century. And while the question of his exact position in the
ranks of the great minds of African philosophy is a question only coming centuries will
decide, I hasten to pay tribute to this icon and wish him a happy reception by our ancestors as he joins the legion.
Paraphrasing Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington,” I say to the African continent:
Bury the great man,
Let us bury the great man
To the noise of a continent’s celebration!
Good night Prof. Kwasi Wiredu.
Ada Agada, The Conversational School of Philosophy
The demise of Prof Kwasi Wiredu was a great Loss. His contribution to African Philosophy was great and impactful. His legacies will continue to live on. He is indeed a Hero. Rest on Prof Wiredu. Mirian Ngozi Alike. PhD.
Department of Philosophy,
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria.
What a loss to the world and to [the] African philosophy community! May his soul find eternal rest, may his works flourish through our minds.
Tony Okeregbe, University of Lagos
So sad to learn about your demise Professor. In Africa some of us believe that you have only departed, but you can still hear us and visualise us. Rest in power son of the soil, your works will live forever throughout the generations.
Dudziro Nhengu, Africa University – Zimbabwe
Sorry for such a big [loss]. He was one of [the] great thinkers in African philosophy. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
Wilfred Lajul, Makerere University, Uganda
The death of Professor Kwasi Wiredu has created a deep lacuna in the world’s intellectual heritage that will take a long time to fill. He will be greatly missed both by his own and others. I join the rest of the world to mourn the exit of a rare breed of African philosopher. May his brilliant mind find repose in the waiting hands of ancestors.
BJB, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Sad news and such a loss for us all!
Mikael Janvid, Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University, Sweden
Losing Prof. Wiredu is painful indeed! We mourn his demise, but are grateful that he has left us such an exceptional philosophical legacy for the benefit of the peoples of Africa first and foremost, and for humanity at large.
Reginald M.J. Oduor, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Nairobi, Kenya
Kwasi Wiredu has not just been a most inspiring thinker of African Philosopher but he has also been a deeply respected teacher to generations of students. To me, he has also been a friend whom I have spent some unforgettable moments with….
Niels Weidtmann, College of Fellows, Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies, Universität Tübingen