Professor Olatunji Oyeshile on Africa’s Future Generations and Global Inequality
On Friday the 13th of December, professor Olatunji Oyeshile will visit Utrecht as part of the Fair Limits speaker series, to present his paper Africa’s Future Generations and Global Inequality. Prof. Oyeshile is professor of philosophy at the University of Ibidan (Nigeria), and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Philosophy at Leiden University.
For centuries, Philosophers and political thinkers have been concerned with the challenge of justice leading to several disquisitions that not only affect the living but also the unborn or future generations. Central to this quest is the problem of global inequality which perfunctorily has been localized mainly to the advanced Northern hemisphere and the underdeveloped Southern hemisphere of which Africa is a part, based on slave trade, missionary activities, colonialism, post-colonialism and globalization. Reviewing this problematic of global inequality as it affects future generations has also expended a considerable attention on theories of justice from ideal and non-ideal perspectives. The task of this paper is to examine the nexus of global inequality and future generations from the purview of ethical interrogation of internal contradictions of human development variables in Africa.
In this paper, I argue that while inequality is real and affective, the African continent can only tackle global inequality if it undertakes an ethical interrogation of environmental, socio-political and economic contradictions that have made inequality the rule rather than the exception in Africa, thereby rending the notion of “future generations of Africans’’ a skeptical phraseology because the conception of future generations is selective, elitist, non-inclusive and non-communitarian.
The paper argues, through a synthesis of ideal and non-ideal theories of justice, that addressing global inequality requires a new narrative of interdependence in line with African communal ethics as basis for securing future generations. In this new narrative, there is a need to rethink the concept of development in Africa and take a critical appraisal of developmental theses such as modernization, dependency, Marxist and cultural theories. It is this new narrative which moves beyond elitist conception of development in Africa that can guarantee a place for future generations of Africans and stem the tide of inequality among Africans. This new narrative will pave way to confronting global inequality which is predicated on the alienating philosophy of “Self and the other”.
The paper concludes that global inequality can only be sufficiently tackled if Africans resolve their internal environmental, socio-political and economic contradictions and adopt a new narrative of interdependence developed by African philosophers and political leaders but which has been neglected by African leaders and elites due to unethical attitude that places the self before others and undermines the survival of Africa’s future generations. It is the adoption of this narrative of interdependence that will guarantee a place for future African generations and help Africa to face the challenge of global inequality. After all, theories on justice and inequality from ideal and non-ideal perspectives are only meaningful if they enhance human flourishing globally.