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Nigerian Philosophers Illuminate World Philosophy Day: A global embrace of wisdom and knowledge, by Dr Hauwa Mohammed Sani


Nigerian Philosophers Illuminate World Philosophy Day: A global embrace of wisdom and knowledge, by Dr Hauwa Mohammed Sani


International World Philosophy Day, observed on the 16th of November, invites a global reflection on the profound impact of philosophy. Initiated by UNESCO in 2002, this day serves as a bridge connecting minds across borders, celebrating the universal pursuit of wisdom, critical thinking, and the exchange of ideas. As we delve into the significance of philosophy, it is fitting to highlight the notable contributions of Nigerian philosophers whose insights have left an indelible mark on the intellectual tapestry.

Philosophical Foundations: Pioneering Visionaries’ Insight for Nigeria’s Identity Peace, Unity and Progress,

In reflecting on the ideals of Nigeria’s founders during this Philosophy World Day, the profound words of Sir Ahmadu Bello and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa resonate with timeless wisdom. Sir Ahmadu Bello, on October 12, 1960, envisioned Nigeria as an “estate of our grandfather,” encapsulating the concept of the nation as an inheritance, echoing a shared legacy. Complementing this statement, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa emphasized the inseparable link between political and economic progress, asserting, “Our political advance will be of no value if it is not supported by economic progress.” He further claims, “On no account should we allow the selfish ambitions of individuals to jeopardize the peace of the law-abiding people of Nigeria.”

Both leaders underscored the imperative of fostering unity, peace, and economic prosperity, urging a collective duty to create understanding, mutual respect, and trust among diverse communities. As we celebrate Philosophy World Day, let the philosophical foundations laid by these visionaries inspire us to cultivate a nation of shared heritage, prosperity, and unity.

In exploring the multifaceted realm of philosophy, Nigerian scholars have emerged as luminaries, offering unique perspectives that resonate globally. The late Sophie Oluwole (1936–2018), a trailblazing figure in African philosophy, emphasized the importance of dialogue, stating, “The colonialists did everything possible to take away our confidence in our intellectual prowess by changing our mode of dressing, language, and even religion.” Oluwole’s words underscore the power of reclaiming intellectual identity through open and meaningful conversations.

Despite being of Ghanaian origin, Kwasi Wiredu (1931-2022) dedicated a significant part of his academic tenure in Nigeria. He posited that African philosophy transcends a mere assortment of beliefs, myths, or spiritual anthropology, encompassing instead a cohesive and empowering response to life’s challenges. His insights underscored the profound impact of philosophical thought, especially in education and enlightenment.

Promoting Dialogue and Tolerance:

As the world grapples with diverse perspectives, Dr. Jonathan Chimakonam, a distinguished Nigerian philosopher, celebrates philosophical diversity by stating, “Philosophy in Africa is a mixture of foreign importation and homegrown elements.” This recognition of the fusion of global and indigenous philosophical traditions fosters an environment of tolerance, emphasizing the enriching nature of diverse thought.

Education and Enlightenment:

At the heart of academic philosophy, Nigerian intellectuals like Chimakonam emphasize the role of education in empowering future generations. Integrating philosophical thinking into educational systems equips individuals with the tools to think critically, analyze complex issues, and contribute to a more enlightened society.

Celebrating Diversity of Thought:

The late Odera Oruka (1944–1995), though originally from Kenya, significantly contributed to the development of African philosophy in Nigeria. His work on “Sage Philosophy” showcased the diversity within African thought, with his insight that “African philosophy is no different from philosophy in general. It is a critical reflection on reality and an attempt to proffer solutions to the problems of existence.” This perspective encourages individuals to explore different philosophical traditions, acknowledging the richness they bring to our global intellectual heritage.

Addressing Contemporary Challenges:

In confronting contemporary challenges, the wisdom of Nigerian philosophers offers valuable guidance. By applying philosophical principles, as suggested by Odera Oruka, to issues like climate change, social inequality, and political unrest, philosophy becomes a powerful lens through which to analyse and address these pressing concerns. The emphasis on ethical reflection and the impact on future generations positions philosophy as a crucial contributor to shaping responsible global citizens.


Join us in celebrating World Philosophy Day. It is a time to reflect on life’s big questions and explore new ideas. Don’t miss this opportunity to expand your mind and engage in meaningful conversations. As we celebrate International World Philosophy Day, the wisdom of Nigerian philosophers echoes across continents, guiding us toward a more just, compassionate, and intellectually vibrant world. Let their insightful quotes inspire meaningful philosophical dialogue, encourage the embrace of diverse perspectives, and fuel the enduring quest for wisdom and understanding on a global scale. In recognizing and celebrating Nigerian philosophers’ contributions, we amplify philosophy’s universal resonance as a force that transcends borders and enriches the collective human experience.

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1 Comment
  1. Dr Sylva Dangoji says

    This is an interesting article on the contributions of Nigerian scholars to the field of philosophy. In my view, Nigerian philosophers have not only adapted earlier internationally acclaimed philosophical thought to Nigerian experiences in different intellectual fields, they also generate philosophical ideas that equally merit international adaptability. This way, Nigerians continue to expand the frontiers of the understanding and utilitarian value of philosophy, for the benefit of humankind. Congratulations Doctor.

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