Concept of African Personality Among Zambian Students


Concept of African Personality

Among Zambian Students:  Sociological Implications – Summary of M. A. Thesis


Mwizenge S. Tembo

Research fellow

Technology and Industry Research Unit

Institute for African Studies



April/May 1980. (Not Edited nor Revised)

            The concept of African personality generally refers to manifestations of cultural uniqueness among Africans as reflected in their behavior, social norms, customs, values, beliefs, religious zeal, attitudes, explanations of the cosmos and the supernatural, social and political systems historically or in contemporary times.

The concept of the African personality has been addressed by many past and contemporary Africans and Afro-Americans.  It has been defined differently when used to designate all the black people with an African heritage; mainly those of the Caribbean Islands and the United States of America.  Let us examine a few of these definitions, some of which do not precisely define the African personality but merely seek to describe and explain the personality and cultural uniqueness of Africans.

Kaunda explains:

Possibly “psychology’ is not the appropriate word, but I do believe that there is a distinctively African way of looking at things, of problem solving and indeed of thinking we have our own logic-system which makes sense to us, however confusing it might be to the Westerner.  If we were, from my own observation, to try to summarize the difference between African and Western psychology and I would say that the Westerner has a problem solving mind whilst the African has a situation experiencing mind.[i]

In the words of D. Chisiza:

There is a tendency in the West, whether the Westerners themselves know it or not, for people to assume that man lives to work.  We believe that man works to live.  This view of life gives rise to our high preference for leisure.  With us, life has always meant the pursuit of happiness rather than the pursuit of beauty or truth.  We pursue happiness by rejecting isolationism, individualism, negative emotions, and tensions, on the one hand; and by encouraging positive emotions and habitual relaxation, and by restraining our desires on the other.[ii]

Or, Cedric X (Clark) et al felt that:

African psychology is the recognition and practice of a body of knowledge which is fundamentally different in origin, content, and direction than that recognized and practiced by Euro-American psychologists.  The differences between African psychology and Euro-American psychology reflect the differences between Black people and White people or, in terms of basic culture, between Africans and Europeans.[iii]

In an article published on the Presence Africaine A. N’daw explained that:

The conception of a man is different (among Africans) and, unlike that of Cartesian Europe, is never dualist or dichotomist.  There is never the separation between body and soul found elsewhere.[iv]

These quotations constitute only a small fraction of the numerous black and African definitions of what can be conceived as the “African Personality”.

Certain prominent and relevant themes prevail in these works.  For example, one fundamental issue is that of the African living in communities with little or no emphasis on the individualism prevalent in Western Society.  Another is that the African lives by natural rhythms, hence establishing a primordial attachment to the universe and the cosmos.  Their attachment to nature makes it imperative that they be a religious people who believe in the powers of supernatural forces.  Because the African is immersed in the totality of the social life and his strong belief in nature and the ancestral spirits, the African finds it difficult to tear social phenomenon into small bits for purposes of abstract analysis and philosophy.  This is, for example, what Kaunda implies when he describes the African as having a “situation experiencing mind”, and the Westerner as having a “problem solving mind”.

The argument about the “African Personality” arises mainly from two schools of thought.  One is the Western and Western-oriented scholars who express the view that the African does not exhibit Western traits of thought and culture because he is not yet civilized.  Therefore, they believe what is needed is to provide him with Western knowledge and culture so that eventually he will become like the Westerner.

The other school of thought maintains the African behaves, thinks and lives as he does because he is unique.  It holds that Western education and culture should be used to enhance further his uniqueness.  A few of the views from these two opposing schools of thought will be briefly reviewed.  The former will be termed the “Anti-African Personality,” the latter the “Pro-African Personality”.


An author on black Africa quotes an incident in which an African appeared before a Chief Justice in the then Nyasaland (Malawi).  The African was charged with murder.  During the trial, the African’s defense was that he had been changed by magic into a crocodile.  The Chief Justice’s three African assessor, who had apparently been chosen for their intelligence and sobriety, agreed with the charged man’s claim.  “The Westerner may find this inconceivable but it is quite consistent with Africans’ obsession with the supernatural”.[v]

The author, Potter, makes further assertions, some of which cannot clearly be substantiated academically, and therefore are merely debatable subjective opinions about Africans.  But one claim he makes may be quoted.  He claims that educated Africans have a limited choice of topics of conversation.  As such, the only subject matter is politics.

I think it was Lessing who wrote that when

                                    Africans are educated they are deprived of

                                    all subjects of conversation between themselves

except politics.  Any two Europeans will discuss

sports, weather, women, money, wisecracks,

the theatre, cinema, clothes, even books, and will

perhaps mention politics in passing.  Two educated

Africans will discuss politics for hours on end and

when they have finished talking about politics

have nothing more to say to each other.[vi]


Another author, Oyebola observes that in the historical and contemporary situation the Africans constitute the least developed society in terms of advancement in technology.  Africans have been less inventive and seem to make very little or no progress at all in the field of creative technology.  He quotes such virtues as determination, honesty, and creative imitation as generally lacking in African society.  To this effect he suggests that the African society must initiate a revolution of the mind.

It is a revolution of the mind.  It is the

                                    conquest of the right to think and admit

                                    that in all the crises of man’s history,

                                    our race has always been the underdog.

                                    Ours is the only race that has never made

                                    it anywhere in the world.  We have for too

                                    long remained a poor imitator of the other races.[vii]

The author dismisses most of the claims that Africa had great civilizations and a glorious past as mere wishful thinking and a misleading myth.  Discussing the issue of pride in the virtues of African communal life, life by rhythm and strong belief in the supernatural, Oyebola declares these as insufficient and claims there is no significant way in which they can contribute to advancement in technology.

As peoples who are just emerging from

centuries of backwardness, foreign domination

and dehumanization, the concept of African

personality is a constructive force for the Black.

But the idea that black man’s past, his

religious and spiritual life, his respect for

elders and communal spirit are more

important than his technology is inimical to

our progress.[viii]           

The Anti-African personality school maintains that there is nothing that Africans can be proud of because historically they have been technologically backward.  This school of thought does not entertain, at length, any question regarding why the Africans behave and think as they do.  Implicitly, the school of thought over emphasizes technological advancement and westernization as the only way out of the problems of backwardness.

With an identical orientation, LeVine[ix] goes into further detail.  He states that evidence indicates that the African society is distinguishable from societies elsewhere  which coincides with the definition in the opening remarks.  LeVine further says that there are certain characteristics which are distinctively African; that they prevail with dominant frequency in Africa:  subsistence agriculture, polygamous marriages, strong and wide family and kinship relationships and bride price (dowry) as a marriage custom.  He suggests seven other characteristics which he claims are widely shared by all Africans on the continent;  social distance between persons differing in age and sex, age-sex hierarchy, emphasis on material transactions in interpersonal relations, functional diffuseness of authority relations, a tendency to blame and fear others under stress, a relative absence of separation anxiety and related effects and, finally, concreteness of thought.

Some of these characteristics which LeVine ascribes to most Africans are, at best, highly subjective value judgments of the African society, by a person who has hardly lived within it, and they implicitly assume that Western social values should prevail in Africa.

His assertion that there is an emphasis on material transactions in interpersonal relations among Africans is vastly exaggerated.  How many material goods do Africans have which could generate a reliance on their exchange, of the magnitude LeVine suggests?  A few cattle, a couple of chickens, and several goats perhaps.  He claims that Westerners put emotional involvement in a relationship first and that material aspects are only incidental but expresses ignorance as to whether this is hypothetical or genuine among Westerners.  Consider the volume of material goods that are exchanged among Westerners to express “Love”.  They would likely far exceed the volume exchanged by Africans in personal relationships.

In the same vein, food and feeding is identified as one of the most important ways of expressing interpersonal relationships among Africans.  “In many domains of behavior that do not involve actual feeding of oral activity-economics, sexuality, political succession-linguistic idioms, metaphors, and imagery derived from eating are widely used.”[x]  This is hardly surprising in a harsh environment where members of the society can easily be struck by famine and constantly experience seasonal food shortages.  Since the African society does not have an excessive availability of food in restaurants at every bush corner, survival dictates the development of norms of this nature.  On second thought, it might seem that LeVine’s point is entirely missed since he contends he is only making “objective” academic observations.  However, if the statements were realistic, there would be no need for these objections.  The alarming fact is that when such a statement is made by a Westerner, it has hidden implications and meaning.  For example, the issue of material goods and food being of central significance in relationship among Africans is often regarded as bizarre, perverted, primitive and simplistic.  While this may sound like an overreaction to LeVine’s statement, another example from the same author will illustrate the point.

LeVine states that there is social distance between persons who differ in age and sex;

“What is most striking about these social distance patterns to a western observer is that they apply to interpersonal relations within the family, which we are used to thinking of as a unit of relaxed informality”.[xi]

He described these particular African social patterns as “institutionalized restrictions”, “segregation patterns”, “customary prescriptions” and “avoidance patterns”.  These descriptions implicitly portray) to the African and Westerner) African social relationships as being negative, rigid and miserable.  Anything which is described in these terms must be inherently bad, primitive and, therefore, undesirable.  However, an important point to be noted is that Africans do not have these orientations until they become “intellectuals” and read these negative descriptions of their society and themselves.  Perhaps with a theory of African Personality new definitions and terms can be generated by African and African-oriented intellectuals to portray African social relations more positively to enhance, not only self-confidence, but expand and clarify some of the academic controversies, for example, the influence of ideas on social change.

LeVine’s contention that material objects and food form the basis of social relationships among African needs further clarification and speculation.  Perhaps the reason why Africans overemphasized food might be the same reason Westerners overemphasize overt “Love” in speech and behavior to other human beings, pets and plants.  Perhaps genuine love is diminishing.

Another point related to this one is LeVine’s assertion that the Westerner desires intimacy in social relationships.  He says this is evident in the hugging, kissing, and kind treatment of animals.  Whereas, the African lacks intimacy in relationships.  It is for this reason that he suggests that there is a relative absence of separation anxiety and its related effects when two apparently intimate Africans are separated.

“The formality of primary group relationships and the

                        relative absence of separation anxiety make physical

                        separation of husband and wives, parents and children

                        less painful and disruptive to the individual than in

                        our culture and the emphasis on material obligation

                        makes it possible to maintain relationships during

prolonged absences.”[xii]

This observation, which is obviously made by an individual external to the entire African social experience, is erroneous.  Hugging and kissing are not only inadequate as criteria for exhibition of affection of intimacy, but in this instance constitutes endorsing cultural values for another society whose standards for expression of love and intimacy are different, a phenomenon which has elements of ethnocentrisms.

It is one thing for an individual to leave his home voluntarily and spend ten years away from his wife, children and relatives without any “separation anxiety”.  It is another thing for individuals to be torn apart from wives and relatives through extraneous conditions of slavery, colonialism and present underdeveloped economies under neo-colonialism.  An African intellectual who has known how the Africans feel and perhaps express their loneliness in the event of absence of biased views.  To add insult to injury, LeVine asserts that so long as the husband provides his wife with kids, a pregnancy every two years, he can be away for long periods of time, and the relationship will still be the same.  It would not be surprising to see such arguments used by pro-apartheid systems to justify labor migration which results in the separation of black families in South Africa.  The theory of African Personality could easily study these social phenomena and arrive at realistic and unbiased conclusions.


The Pro-African personality school of thought is sympathetic towards the African and seeks to analyze the issue as a genuine and authentic subject of social inquiry.  The proponents of this school of thought generally maintain that the African social consciousness owes its origins to the rapid and mostly destructive effects of slavery, colonialism and, in contemporary times, neo-colonialism.  The African social consciousness has been described as a unique and genuine system of social thought and character arising from social environmental conditions and historical experiences which are predominantly different from those of Asia, Europe and the United States.  Among the proponents of more abstract theories of African personality are Senghor, Mbiti and Cesaire.

Negritude is a philosophy of African being.  It seeks to define the African’s personality in terms of his total response to the environment; his emotions, responses to nature, speech, communal existence, explanations of the cosmos and beliefs in the supernatural.  “Quite simply, negritude is the sum total of the values of the civilization of the African world.”[xiii]

Senghor explains the characteristics and virtues of the African culture and the significance of articulating and defining them.  He establishes the uniqueness of the African culture by discussing in detail African metaphysics, emotions, religion, conception and apprehension of reality and democracy.  He contrasts the African approach with the Western approach toward social phenomena in order to illustrate the difference.

For example, he explains the differences in African and Western apprehension of reality.  Senghor says that the European distinguishes the object from himself; “a pitiless factual analysis”.[xiv]  The European uses an object he killed or fixed for practical ends and, apart from mere scientific analysis, destroys it in the process.  Whereas,

The African is, as it were, shut up inside his black skin.

                        He lives in primordial night.  He does not begin by

distinguishing himself from the object, the tree or stone,

                        the man or animal or social event.  He does not keep it

                        at a distance.  He does not analyze it.  Once he has come

                        under its influence, he takes it like a blind man, still

                        living, into his hands.  He does not fix it or kill it.[xv]

He further mentions that Africans react more naturally to stimuli because of rhythm.  The African has direct reactions to sensations which give rise to memory, language, and art.  Africans live in symbiosis with others in the communal society.  As Senghor puts it, “Subject and object are dialectically confronted in the very act of knowing one another.”[xvi]

The concept of negritude is said to have been the reaction of black intellectuals to the effects of colonialism, including the cumulative effects of the slavery which had preceded it such as the racial inferiority complex.  It was a literal and ideological movement of French-speaking intellectuals in Africa in conjunction with the black people in America and the West Indies.  The movement sought to fight what they saw as a subjection of black people to the political, social and moral domination of the West.  “Negritude as we had then begun to conceive and define it was a weapon of defense and attack and inspiration rather than an instrument of construction”.[xvii]

Senghor further describes the nature of negritude and seeks to pick out strands of behavior in the African consciousness which are said to reflect characteristics or dominant traits of negritude.  For example, “emotive disposition” represents a being of emotion.  It is further claimed that even the physical constitution of the African predisposes him to respond to the external world in such a way that it becomes an en-gulfing experience in which the whole of the self is involved and, by implication, no distinction is made between the physical and psychic self on the one hand and the external natural environment on the other.  This assertion is confirmed by the author’s own observation.  Most Americans, it seems, cannot perceive a social experience such as a beautiful sunset, a meal or the like unless they mention in advance that it is beautiful, nice or looks good.  It seems essential and an integral part of the experience to know and mention that one is experiencing enjoyment before he can perceive the enjoyment or ecstasy inherent in nature.  The theme of this thesis (which is in slight contradiction with some elements of negritude) is not that one or the other is better but that both should be regarded as genuine and legitimate perceptions of the social and natural environment.

“Senghor rives from his exposition of the distinctive psychology of Negro-African, what one might call a theory of knowledge implicit in the African’s attitude to the world, a black epistemology.”[xviii]

From what has transpired, it is evident that knowledge becomes discovery through emotion.  It is this sensuous grasp of reality that Senghor refers to as intuition.  He states that an African is not moved by the outward appearance of an object.  One example which he cites to illustrate this point is that, “what moves him in water is not that it flows, is liquid and blue, but that it washes and purifies.”[xix]  Physical appearance, therefore, is of less significance than function.  This exposition seems to imply objects in terms of their utility in the dynamics of society and in their seeming existence in the continuation of the life cycle in nature.

Some critics like Abiola[xx] have denounced negritude.  Abiola maintains that the theoretical formulation of negritude is poor and that its practical implications are insignificant.  In his words,

On the grounds of its facile and unscientific attribution

                        of a racial basis to mental processes and the suggestion

                        that it seems to carry of an inherent incapacity of the

African to employ and to penetrate discursive forms of

intellectual operations.[xxi]

Abiola claims that the theory of negritude seems to bear some racist connotations and, therefore, is not suitable as a basis for practical action.  He regards negritude views of the black man as static and unaffected by time.

Senghor disagrees with these views.  To support his assertions, he maintains rightly that there are some young African intellectuals who have read Marx carelessly and are also uncured of the inferiority complex from colonialism.  They consequently blame him for reducing the African, “mode of knowledge to pure emotion.”[xxii]  They accuse him of denying that there is an African rationality and an African technology.  Senghor refutes these notions and emphasizes that there is a white European civilization and a black African civilization and according to him their significance is to explain the reasons for prevailing differences.  He says that, contrary to popular belief, emotion is not failure of consciousness but rather constitutes, “the accession to a higher state of consciousness.”[xxiii]  It is the emotive attitude toward the world that explains African cultural values.

What is the stance of the concept of African personality on negritude?  It bears a major positive relevant element in that it draws attention to the reality and existence of African cultural values and philosophy of life.  These were assumed not to exist in a dark and backward continent.  Beyond this point, direct relevance to contemporary African thinking needs further serious searching.  This will be briefly addressed in the conclusion of this paper.

Another pro-African personality proponent[xxiv] explains the African’s social consciousness and its uniqueness in the modern world in terms of the traditional concept of time in Africa and how this has changed radically under modern conditions.  This change did not occur under normal and usual circumstances where creativity, assimilation and accommodation were possible.  On the contrary, colonialism and racial myths that Africa had essentially neither a culture nor a history because of technological backwardness made the African society’s adoption of modern or Western concept of time in such a way that it has produced perverted features in Africans.

Mbiti[xxv] says that the conception of time in African society was in terms of “sasa” which meant now; “zamani” meant the past.  Events receded into zamani when they were over and this included human beings after death, except that man joined his ancestors after death.  African society did not have the concept of future in the Western mathematical sense.  Mbiti asserts that the rapid changes brought by modernization have hardly been harmonious or creative for most Africans.  He says:  “Modern change has imported into Africa a future dimension of time.  This is perhaps the most dynamic and dangerous discovery of the African peoples in the Twentieth Century.”[xxvi]

Finally, there is an observation that Mbiti makes which seems to be in direct opposition to the Anti-African personality school of thought.  Potter[xxvii] claims that educated Africans converse about politics exclusively.  This might rightly be an aberration.  However, he provides only weak and unconvincing explanation for this disposition.

Mbiti[xxviii] on the other hand, claims that Africans are obsessed with politics because they have only recently been released from the shackles of colonialism, during which open political discussion was forbidden among Africans.  In his words,

The spirit which ignited the fires of nationalism during the

colonial days has not lost its power; it has ignited more fires

since independence returned to the majority of African states;

and it will continue to do so until its energy is harnessed and

channeled in other directions.  The political pot in Africa is still

bubbling and great is the man who can stir it without getting

 smeared or even scorched.[xxix]

A black oriented American sociologist expresses views which bear some relevance to discussion of the pro-African personality school of thought.  Dixon[xxx] states that the assumptions made in certain research often rule out explanation.  He cites as an example the assumption that the nuclear family is the only valid form of marital organization.  Accordingly, therefore, pathologies arise when there is no male head in a black family.  This perspective is said to be determined by the orientation of the knowers.  Hence, different world views lead to different research methodologies.

Dixon examines African and Euro-American differences in axiology (values which one holds), epistemology (how one knows) and logic (organization of what one knows).  He quotes a variety of examples to illustrate the differences between the two societies.  For example, under axiology he quotes “pure” Euro-American emphasis on the future which is anticipated to be “bigger and better”.  Nobody wants to be old fashioned and they are rarely satisfied with the present.  Time is transformed into an object-sold, bought, and utilized as in the popular Western saying, “Time is money”.  Individuals with this disposition inherently, “function more effectively when activities are preplanned and time scheduled.  Clock-time rules the day when the phenomenal world (object) is separated from self.”[xxxi]  This is not the case in the African orientation in which time has to be experienced.  That is why Mbiti says it is experienced into events which have occurred, those which are to take place and those immediately to occur.  Events which haven’t occurred, and those which have no likelihood of occurring are in “no-time”.  It has to be experienced in order to become real.  Proceeding from this statement, the future is not real.  Dixon says:  “Since Africanized time orientation is governed by the dimensions of past and present, the drive for investment of the future-oriented Euro-American time becomes substantially less important.”[xxxii]

Dixon suggests that the African orientation provides a way of knowing reality that is an alternative to the European way.  The implication of Dixon’s thesis that the African orientation of thought vis-à-vis the African personality can be regarded as a positive alternative in modern intellectual orientation and social thought.

Where the African orientation is recognized or just suggested as a possible alternative way of doing things, there is overwhelming opposition from the Africans themselves.  The difficulties facing any efforts to change the status quo in African society are enormous.  The researcher recalls a Zambian friend who was a senior at the University of Zambia.  During an argument about Zambian values and education, the researcher said the way to avoid adopting inappropriate and distorted values and knowledge is to change our educational system.  Burn all the current books particularly in the social studies (history), language, geography, art, music).  Instead, use textbooks with a Zambian (African) orientation.  The Zambian friend broke into contemptuous laughter, “Where will the new books come from, who will write them?”  He challenged the idea with so many questions that the prospects were made to look gloomy and his negative bias was revealed.  This is the attitude that, not only Africans need to eliminate but academicians in the social sciences also.


            On the basis of the foregoing, the rationale of the questionnaire items was established.  To what extent would university of Zambia students manifest elements of the African Personality?

The items sought to find out the responses of the students to statements concerning African politics, history, education and their cosmological views.  For example item 14 is “Dr. Livingstone discovered the Victoria Falls”.  Students who have gone through the Zambian educational system learn about this throughout.  The assumption of this statement is that the Africans who lived in the vicinity of the falls before the arrival of Livingstone had an irrelevant perception until a westerner arrived on the scene.  The respondents had choices of disagreeing or agreeing with the statement.  Item 17 is “There is no democracy in African Countries”.  The western mass media and educational material has often contended that because of the prevalence of coup do tats and one party state, there is dictatorship in the African countries.”  On the other hand there is a possibility that this is only a new brand of democracy emerging in African politics.  The respondents had to either agree or disagree with this statement.  The responses to the items were structured ranging from strongly disagree, disagree, don’t know, agree, strongly agree.  These were in turn rated for scoring from 1 to 5.  The total number of items scored was 18.

It was generally found that the respondents had a mean score of over 2.5 on at least 94% of the items.  In terms of the rationale of the theoretical frame work, this means that the respondents, the 135 University of Zambia students in their first year of study in the school of Humanities and Social Science exhibited pro-African personality responses.

Regarding the four hypotheses:

1)    That male respondents will score significantly higher on the African Personality scale than the female respondents.

2)    That the married respondents will score significantly higher on the African Personality scale than those who attended the same in an urban environment.

3)    That the respondents who went to primary and secondary schools in rural areas will score significantly higher on the African personality scale than those who attended the same in an urban environment.

4)    Those who prefer to do their advanced studies in Zambia will score significantly higher on the African Personality scale than those who chose to go to Britain.

With the use of Analysis of variance and at a significance level of 0.05 all the differences were statistically insignificant.  Detailed explanations are found in the thesis; a bounded copy is now in the University of Zambia Library.


The African Personality is perhaps a fluid phenomenon.  It would be necessary to conduct the same or similar studies across different generations, compare results according to age, amount of travel, western education and social status.  The same study conducted across regions in Africa could provide a reflection of how fluid the phenomenon is across the African society.

One of the serious shortcomings of the previous theories prior to African independence was that the theories emerged out of protest against racial injustice and colonialism; for example negritude, pan-Africanism, Biko’s black consciousness.  When independence was achieved, charges have been made around intellectual circles that these theories are either inadequate, no long applicable to the new African social aspirations and changing image.  Critics like Abiola have charged that negritude is racist and, therefore, negative.[xxxiii]  Because of the rapidly changing image of the African society the African Personality theory should be expanded and integrated into formal economic, social and political theory where and whenever possible.  This would serve a dichotomous purpose; first of all the emergence of authentic African intellectual theory, and secondly for practical matters relating to development.

Relating to intellectual theory, the observation is made that the classical theories relating to any social science with a western or eastern origin, very little is done in terms of articulating and adapting it to the African social environment.  For example, in economics there are capitalist theories relating to demand and supply, input and output.  This is fare and well when social conditions prevailing in the African society are identical to the ones in the western society; which unfortunately is not the case for example in Zambia and the rest of Africa.  What do you do as an economist if the theory, say of input and out, does not work properly?  Usually “technical” factors are cited.  I would rather the African Personality factors were integrated into the theory to provide a more plausible explanation incorporating factors that are unique to the African contemporary and historical realities.

In the field of sociology for example theories exist about social norms, kinship, and customs.  But when a western oriented intellectual describes them, he usually discusses them with negative connotations.  The extended family prevents individuals from saving and investing.  Dowry and particularly bride price gives the obvious impression that Africans buy wives.  A tribe is still perceived as a grass skirt wearing and shield and spear wielding black man.  While these terms have evolved considerably different and variety of meanings as exemplified by expressions like Wako ni Wako.  On the Psychological perspective, it is very curious that anything which is bad is necessarily black.  For example the black market, thousands of Iranians were massacred by the former Shah of Iran; that day has been called the black similar.  By coincidence the so called Dark Continent Africa is inhabited by black people.  The influence of the unconscious could be speculated when bad is associated with a black persons.

Finally, I wish to close on the phenomenon which is abbreviated by SOTSOG; Standing on the Shoulders of a Giant.  This refers to the fact that every major social theorist slowly built on certain information developed before that social theorist.  This is true of most of the history of social theories today; for example Marxism, Capitalism and Communism.  So do not expect a complete and articulated theory of African Personality now before you can contribute anything whether negative or positive.


[i] Kenneth D. Kaunda.  A Humanist in Africa (Lusaka, Veritas, 1966), p. 26.

[ii] Dunduza Chisiza.  “The Outlook for Contemporary Africa,” in Two Centuries of African English,

Down, L.  (ed.), (London, Heinemann Educational Books, 1973), p. 98.

[iii] Cedric X (Clark), Phillip McGee, Wade Nobles and Naim Akbar, Voodoo or I. Q.:  An Introduction to African Psychology (Illinois, Institute of Positive Education (1976), p. 1.  Also in the Journal of Black Psychology, vol. 1, No. 2, Feb. 1975.

[iv] A. N’daw.  “Is it possible to speak about an African way of thought?”  Presence Africaine, Vol. 30,

No. 58, 1966, p. 38.

[v] Barnett, Potter.  The Fault Black Man… (Capetown, Howard Timmins, 1970), p. 23.

[vi] Ibid., p. 38.

[vii] Aredye Oyebola, Black Man’s Dilemma (Logos, Nigeria, 1976), p. 13.

[viii] Ibid., p. 15.

[ix] R. A. LeVine, Patterns of Personality in Africa, “DeVos, G. A. (ed.), Responses to Change:  Society, Culture and Personality, (New York, D. Van Nostrand Co., 1976).

[x] Ibid., p. 121.

[xi] Ibid., p. 116.

[xii] Ibid., p. 132.

[xiii] Leopold Senghor.  Prose and Poetry, Selected and translated John Reed and Clive Wake (London, Henemann Educational Books, 1965), p. 99.

[xiv] Ibid., p.29.

[xv] Ibid., p. 26.

[xvi] Ibid., p. 32.


[xvii] Ibid., p. 99.

[xviii] Irele Abiola.  “Negritude:  Philosophy of African Being,”  Nigeria Magazine, Festac Edition, Nos. 122-123, 1977, p. 6.

[xix] Leopold Sedar Senghor, p. 35.

[xx] Irele Abiola, pp. 1-13.

[xxi] Ibid., p. 11.

[xxii] Leopold Sedar Senghor, p. 33.

[xxiii] Ibid., p. 35.

[xxiv] John S. Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy (New York, Anchor Books, 1970).

[xxv] Ibid., p. 288.

[xxvi] Ibid., p. 289.

[xxvii] Barnett Potter.  The Fault, Black Man…., (Capetown, Howard Timmins, 1970).  Discussed this issue; refer to the literature review.

[xxviii] John S. Mbiti, p. 286.

[xxix] Ibid., p. 130.

[xxxiii] Irele Abiola. “Negritude:  Philosophy of African Being”, Nigeria Magazine, Festac Edition, Nos. 122-123, 1977, p. 11.


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Brown, L.(ed.), Two Centuries of African English; a survey and anthology of non-fictional English prose by African writers since 1769, London, Heinemann Educational Books, 1973.

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Authenticity in Africa, vol. XVII, No. 1, (Zaire), Central and Southern Africa Series, Jan. 1973.

Jones, Rhett S.                        “Proving Black Inferiority,” The Death of White Sociology,

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