The African Philosophy World Conference: From the Eyes of the CSP
By Rejoice Chipuriro and Aribiah Attoe
Between the 27th and the 31st of October 2019, the African Philosophy Society hosted some of the best minds in African philosophy and other related disciplines at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. What was particularly interesting about this conference was the focus on young enterprising African scholars, and this was shown in the fact that most emerging scholars who attended the workshop, did so with all-expense paid for.
On the 27th of October, like many other participants, the Conversational School of Philosophy’s expedition to Tanzania began with members attending in two teams – one travelling from Nigeria (where her base is located), led by Dr John Umezurike, and the second team travelling from Johannesburg, South Africa, led by Ms Rejoice Chipuriro. Dr Pius Mosima, a member from Cameroon had travelled alone from his country. For the first team travelling from Lagos, Nigeria, it was a long flight, having to lay-over for a few hours in Kigali Rwanda before moving on to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. For the second team travelling from Johannesburg, South Africa, it was a less arduous three-hour flight. Arriving at Tanzania’s small but beautiful airport immediately reminded one of the fact that one was close to the equator, as the bright sunshine and searing heat threatened to melt flesh from bone.
Having arrived and settled down in the two designated Hotels for participants at Dar es Salaam, the CSP was ready for the conference. The conference began on the 28th of October 2019 and participants were taken to the beautiful University of Dar es Salaam. It was indeed a serene environment and it was an interesting touch to see a large troop of monkeys running freely on the campus.
Having registered for the conference and set up her book display stand, which drew in curious participants, it was time for members of the CSP to attend the conference activities for the day, which was highlighted by a keynote address by Nigeria’s literary icon, and Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka. Inundated by various breaks – since the events of the day were long and jam-packed – members of the CSP took advantage of these free times to unwind, give their impressions about the events of the day, and strategize and bond as a team.
After the first day, the second and third days were mainly for individual presentations by participants in the conference. It was thrilling and quite educative to watch and listen to both young and old scholars deliver their various presentations, and members of the CSP were not left out. Apart from the two-panel sessions dedicated to “Conversational thinking” where CSP members like Jonathan Chimakonam, John Umezurike, Greg Nnajiofor, Jerome Alex-Hounnouve and Isaiah Negedu were prominent participants, other members presented their papers in various other panel sessions. While Diana Ofana and Amara Esther were prominent speakers in the panel on “Gender matters”, Rejoice Chipuriro and Edwin Ejesi were prominent in their panel on “International Development Agenda”. Other members like Aribiah Attoe (metaphysics and ontology panel, Mirian Alike (Philosophy in Africa: Critiquing the critique panel), and Pius Mosima (Phenomenology and Intercultural Philosophy), also made their presentations in their respective panels. The CSP members were shown to be quite adept at presenting their papers with their trademark extempore presentation, and they all received great feedback – in terms of questions and comments – after their talk.
In Conclusion, the Tanzania conference was generally a success, both for the organisers/participants and the CSP. This success is captured by the words of Rejoice Chipuriro, who, in describing her own perspective of the conference, writes:
“My journey to the conference began with some drama at the airport and that was when I first experienced the power of the CSP as an indomitable group in practical affairs of life. I was denied the opportunity to board my flight on some technical grounds – another barrier on human movement through border policing and control by our African countries. My team insisted that they were leaving no one behind and I was made the team-two expedition leader. Through the sheer determination of the CSP team travelling from Johannesburg, I was able to get appropriate permission to board my flight. The team stood firmly by me to the time we landed in Dar es Salam, where I was introduced to the rest of the CSP family. I was accommodated with so much acceptance and heartfelt camaraderie that I knew I had found my intellectual home. The CSP team residing at Kebbys hotel immediately took me in and we practised our presentation thoroughly with feedback. When I presented I was confident and I had three CSP members who attended and supported me. I reciprocated by attending and supporting member presentations at the conference. We enjoyed a truly arumaristic experience, and mealtime was team time where coaching took place under the leadership of our convener. My first African Philosophy conference left an impressive mark thanks to the power of the CSP teamwork.”
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Peter Oruka Odera.