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MARCH 2015





This is to certify that this essay was written by ESAN OLUWATOBI DAVID. With Matric Number 100105022 of the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, during 2013/2014 academic session under my supervision.



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_____________________ ________________________


Head of Department














This essay is dedicated to the Supreme Being (GOD), who has counted me worthy and showered his favour, grace and mercy on me all through my stay on campus.

Also to my precious unknown wife and wonderful unborn kids who have always been the only hope of focus during my most discouraging moments in life.























All glory be returned unto the Natura Naturans who has been faithful to me despite my unfaithfulness throughout my stay on campus. The pursuit of my first degree has never been by my power but through the help of the testimonies of the prophets (Holy Spirit) who has been my daily guide. To this end I can confidently say that God is faithful.

My most reserved appreciation goes to Eledumare who in his great mercy provided inestimable divinities to paddle my life to a safety shore during my stay on campus. Starting from my notable (Orunmila) Mr. S.A Laleye who through words of wisdom bestow upon me all I was made to forget after my interaction with the Oni-bode, thank you for your supervision.

A very big thank you to my (Ile-Aye Orisha) my parents, Mr and Mrs Esan who paddled my coming into this world and supported me all through my stay on campus, may Eledumare continue to be with you. (Ase).

I want to use this medium to appreciate Philosophy Head of Department (HOD) prof. N. Oktapor, my father who always believes in me, in person of Rt. HON OFO Bolarinwa, prof. B.M Akinnawonu who saw ability in my inability, prof. Segun Ogungbemi, Dr. S.L.D Itanrin, Dr. C.P Olatunji, Dr. Obaweki who never gave up on me, Late. Dr. Irene, Mr. A.M Jinadu who sees the best in me, Mr. S.L Oladipupo, Mr. Adesuyi the notable African philosophy priest who is ever ready to listen to me, Mr. Afolabi and miss Alafe, I pray may our Ancestors always grant you your heart desire. (Ase).

I cannot but appreciate my wonderful siblings, miss. Damilola Esan, Miss. Folasade Esan, Mr. Tolulope Esan and Miss Hannah Adebowale for their support, appreciation goes to all members of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA AAUA Chapter). Gemstone Leaders Connect AAUA Chapter, Saint Lifters, Proclaimers, Luv Villa members, Faith Family, entire Philosophy Student AAUA, and most especially all members of Gospel Student Fellowship AAUA Chapter, you all are indeed an inestimable jewel i will never forget.

My Acknowledgement will not be complete without giving cognizance to some certain set of individuals who have been the brain behind the Living Legend, Alli Daniel, Osundairo Bodunde, Ola Lydia Opeyemi, Oladokun Tosin, Omogunwa Ayodeji, Pst. Sam Neye, Pastor. Ojueromi, Evangelist Orimogunje, Pastor Rotimi Ayodeji, Pastor Kolawole Opeyemi, Ayodele Awi, Emaye Ayodele, Emaye Victor, Oshoro Ayo, Omosowene Segun, Akinbohun Emmanuel, Adebiyi Olatomide, Akindeji Babatunde, Fawi Ayomiposi, Akinyemi Queen, Adekugba Aderenike, Babalola Taiwo and Kenny, Omopo Bimbo, late. Busari Oluwanifesimi, Mr. Olatubi, Ejiranti Paul, All Thinker class 14, all Gsfite class 14, all my Fans and critiques, I say you have indeed made me better than I was, may Orisha Oke be with you all.(Ase).

Needless to say that I cannot mention all the names of everybody that has contributed to my life and stay on campus, but for everyone I ever came across throughout my stay here on campus, you have indeed contributed to my life and make a Legend out of me because “I am because you are and you are because I am” thanks you so much for believing in me, you all are the set of people I have spent the best part of my life with so far, I will miss you and will always love you. May the supreme deity be with us all as we journey to fulfill purpose in life. (Ase).















African Traditional Thought System: The Communitarian Perspectives 8


Modernization and African Society 17


The Interface between African Traditional Thoughts and

Modernization: A philosophical Appraisal 29










African Traditional Thought and Modernization: A Philosophical Appraisal

African communities are being regarded by most people as the dark continent of the world, which various scholars have viewed to be having some distinct features and characteristics that distinguishes them from the other parts of the world, most especially their thought and belief systems which portray the cultural background and heritage

It is believed that Africans possessed a particular thought system which is communalistic or socialistic way of life. This communal life style of the African race has been their practice right from inception even before Marxism came up. This communal life style happens to be the unique features in all African society even though their culture varies. African moral values and cultural identity is seen as the central piece of African thought system.

Modernization according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is believed to be an advancement that is new, that intends to be different from traditional style1. Modernization is a departure from the old ways of doing things which is believed to be outdated. Modernization is attractive because it seems to foster development more than the previous ways of doing things. However, scholars like Segun Ogungbemi2 among others have viewed modernization as a movement that embraces capitalistic way of life which is against the socialistic life that is inherent in African thought.

Modernization is the movement of the 1950s and 1960s. It is an economic theory that is rooted in capitalism. The concept of modernization incorporates the full spectrum of the transition and drastic transformation that a traditional society has to undergo in other to become modern. Modernization is about Africa following the developmental footsteps of the Europe (largely the former colonizer of Africa).Modernization policies intends to raise the standard of living of the poor and also contribute to disseminating knowledge and information about more efficient techniques of production. For instance, modernization strategies and policies are common to both the pre and post colonial states in Africa. On their arrival in Africa, whites tasked themselves with the responsibility of “modernizing” the continent. No wonder why they labeled Africa as “dark continent” which needed to be enlightened (modernized).

Africa is been perceived to house plentiful economic resources but the continent still languish in poverty as evidenced by high prevalence of famine, disease and ignorance. With the present state and predicament in African communities today, one cannot but take a critical look on the effect of modernization which is believed to be a panacea for African development which is bewildering African and the rate of underdevelopment in Africa community even after the birth of globalization by the advent of modernization.

The incessant quest for modernity in African communities has lead to the birth of globalization, which has affected every realm of African culture, increasing the spread of capitalist values, increasing the rate of inequality and erosion of African culture and identity.

However, there is a need to have a critical look of the dichotomy between African traditional thought and modernity, as well has having a critical appraisal of the effect of modernization on African thought system.

The problem in this research work is that, the neglect of core values embedded in African culture and the persistent quest for modernization in Africa has led to the eroding of African culture and identity.

Also, the force and quest for modernity without using it to promote African culture has led into the diluting of African integrity, wholeness, and absolute quality, which has led most African’s to be shying and refuting their own identity and embracing the identity of the whites.

The thesis of this work is that genuine modernization in Africa can only be realized through the revitalization of African cultural norms and values. Hence there has to be a paradigm shift in Africa, if Africa is to reclaim its right towards development. That is, African cultural values must not be neglected in the course of African quest for modernization.

The objective of this proposal is to find a way of reviving and salvaging African culture and ideas, even with the presence of technological invasion and modernization and also to find a way of sustaining our social, political, cultural and moral standard. This proposal will deem it fit to shed light on the implication of modernization on African thought system.

The method that shall be adopted in the cause of this re-search is a critical analytic method.

The study shall be limited to Nigeria.

The materials needed for this re-search work shall be sourced from the internet, libraries, journals and publications.

The relationship between traditional African thought and modernization has been a central theme of post colonial African philosophy, while African scholars have examined this theme from many angles; several basic questions have become the focus of the ongoing debate and discussion: what is the relevance of indigenous African tradition to the challenges of contemporary life? Do the traditional modes of though and behavior constitute resources or impediments to the project of development and modernization in Africa? In view of this, it is explicit for us to examine what African thought entails.

Africa also regarded as the dark continent of the world is believed to possess a communal life style which is the advance form of socialism. Gbadegesin.S posits that African thought system is majorly based on communal living, identifying various ways to drive his point right from birth to the death of man. He also believes that African thought aims at what will benefit the community as a whole, being socialistic in nature and he said man’s socialism starts from the immediate family. Africans to him are not egocentric and egoistic in nature, with is illustration base on the story of the popular Moremi of the Ife people.3

Nyerere4 however posits that, even before the postulation of socialism by Karl Marx, Africans have been living a socialistic way of life, that Africans have been practicing socialism right from inception, which implies that African system have its root on socialism and communal living. Also, according to Offor.F “the political thought system of the Africans is such a distinct and well ordered, structured before the westerners came to Africa, corruption was at the minimum level then and the political system was well to be reckoned with”.5

Furthermore, Gyekye.K said that “in African society the prosperity or well-being of man depends upon his fellow man”.6 Hence, African people are viewed as people that are caring, accommodating and uphold there cultural standard.

Modernization is viewed as the shift from a traditional way or style to a new way. Some scholars who will be discussed below have argued that modernization is a powerful tool for development but it is explicit to know that any development that does not promote the culture of the people will in no time lead to retrogression of the community.

Modernization according to Ogungbemi.S, has brought economic improvement to Africans. As well as raised their social and political awareness. To him, without modernization there cannot be development either of human and natural resources.7

Ebijuwa.T said the quest for modernization has given birth to globalization which in one way or the other has affected African communities positively and has improved their economic standared.8 However, Rodney.W believed that Africans have been developing gradually and have developed some notable technological structure before the coming of the westerners. He said the Europeans only came to destroy the structure of African development, which implies Europeans colonialist came to underdeveloped Africa because of their selfish gains.9

African contact with the white has led Nyerere to view that the influence of the westerners have changed the original thought system of the African and that this thought system is alien to Africa and that Africans should embrace there socialistic way of life which was their original identity. This socialistic view was exemplified in his TANU creed and philosophy of ujaama, no wonder Albert H.B and Richard A.L said that negritude is all about a cry to bring back Africans to their origin, to return and retain back their original identity.10

It should be noted that modernization can’t be discussed without making a re-course to globalization and western civilization, in view of this Arowolo.D posits that globalization has contributed to the retarding and losing of African heritage due to the effect of colonialism.11 Oni A.A also argued that globalization which was brought about due to the quest of modernity is threatening the development and originality of Africa.12

furthermore, Abanyam N.L is of the opinion that when we are talking about modernization we can’t neglect the importance of science and technology and he believes that the effect of technology on Africa has brought indecency and immorality which is against our cultural thought system in Africa.13 also, Matunhu.J said that “African needs a renaissance in other to restore their identity”.14

African leaders at independence got political power and not economic power according to Ogungbemi.S and that the westerners left three seeds of discord in Africa before they left; of which modernization is one.15 hence, there is a need to properly address modernization and its effect in Africa. When modernization is conceived without moral or ethical apprehension of both individual and national conscience in matters pertaining to human, human wellbeing will be affected.16












  1. W Sally et al, ed Oxford Advanced English Learner’s Dictionary (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)946.
  2. S Ogungbemi Philosophy and Development (Ibadan: Hope Publication Ltd, 2007)29.
  3. S Gbadegesin “Individuality, Community and the Moral Order” in P.H Coetzee and A.P.J Roux ed The African Philosophy Readers (New York: Rutledge Publisher, 1998)294.
  4. J Omoregbe Knowing Philosophy (Lagos: Joja Educational Research and Publishers Ltd, 2007)34.
  5. F Offor “Democracy as an Issue in African Philosophy” in S Oladipo ed Core Issues in African Philosophy (Ibadan: Hope Publication Ltd, 2006)128.
  6. K Gyekye An Essay on African Philosophical Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987)155.
  7. S Ogungbemi (2007)32.
  8. T Ebijuwa ed “Globalization and the Development of Positive Human Values in Africa” in Philosophy and Social Change: Discourse on Values in Africa (Ibadan: Hope Publications Ltd, 2007)38.
  9. W Rodney How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (Dar es Salaam: Tanzania Publishing House, 1973)40.
  10. H.B Albert and A.L Richard ed Negritude: Essays and Studies (Hampton Virgina: Hampton Institute Press, 1967)ix.
  11. D Arowolo “The Effect of Western Civilization and Culture on Africa” Afro Asian Journal of Social Sciences, vol 1, no 1, Quarter iv, 2012, 2.
  12. A.A Oni “Globalization and its Implication on African Culture and Development: Challenges for Education” International Journal of African and American Studies Vol. iv, No 2 (Zimbabwe: University of Zimbabwe Press, July 2005)10.
  13. N.L Abanyan “The Effect of Western Technology on African Values” IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol 8, Issues 4 (Benue State: Benue State University Press, March- April 2013)26.
  14. J.A Matunhu “A Critique of Modernization and Dependency Theories in Africa: Critical Assessment” Africa Journal of History and Culture Vol. 3 (5), June 2011, 71.
  15. S Ogungbemi (2007)46.
  16. S Ogungbemi (2007)47.











African traditional thought is characterized by communalistic attribute. Hence, this chapter reviews the nature of the traditional African community with a view of exposing the essential elements that makes it communitarian. This chapter is aimed at given an explicit look into some of the features that makes African society communalistic in nature and to establish the fact that African society is rooted firmly in communism.


The word ‘‘community’’ has no universal definition. However, Gyekye Kwame, maintains that:

Community refers to particular social settings and networks characterized by sharing an overall way of life, which entails the existence and acknowledgement of common roles, obligations and understanding.1

From the above definition we can infer some major characteristics which make a community. These include: the geographical location, sense of belongingness, co-existence and sense of responsibility. It should be however noted that, the term community does not mean only a large settlement as family, groups, clan etc but we can also have communities within communities but all communities no matter how small or large, African or European communities must possess the above stated characteristics.

It is important to know that despite various communities that we have in the world, African traditional community remains distinct base on their communitarian outlooks and thought systems.

Communalism according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is ‘‘the fact of living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities’’2. This is the act of people seeing themselves as one and been responsible to the wellbeing of one another in the society. In African traditional society, individuals see themselves as an inherently communal being, embedded in a context of social relationship and interdependence. This implies that everyone tend to see themselves as interdependent on one and other. Gyekye.K said ‘‘communalism is based on the notion that a person when born finds himself or herself not in isolation but among other individual and thus establishing the relational nature of a person’’3. This implies that communalism sees the community as reality itself and not a mere association of individuals. Gbadegesin.S further posits that a child is born into the community and he identified all the rite of passage of man in within the ambit of the community.4 it is however believed in African traditional society that community makes a man and man is solely responsible more to the community than individual.

Hence, having gotten an insight into what community and communalism entail, this will serve as a solid background into some of the salient features that makes African traditional society to be regarded as been communistic.

The Communitarian Perspectives of the Africans

Africa which is mostly viewed as the dark continent of the world has in no wise being viewed as been distinct among the other continents of the world which is basically because of the wealth in terms of natural resources and their thought system which is communal in nature. It should be noted that when talking about African thought system we are talking about their beliefs, norms, moral value, religion, culture and tradition, etc. All these are what form the basis of African traditional thought system.

Communalism as discussed above is the feeling of living together in the same community and sharing both possession and responsibilities. It is the act of collectiveness. In African traditional community, the community is seen as a single life force constituted by various individual life forces and as such every individual life force sees him or herself as an important constituent of the soul life force which is the community.5 this means that in Africa traditional community every individual sees their realization within the goal of the community, that is there is this communal sense of unity, belongingness and responsibility among Africans. Mbiti was of the opinion that in Africa “I am because we are and we are because I am”.6 This connotes communal sense of interdependence of existence in African traditional setting. Now it is explicit to start looking at some African traditional thoughts that are communitarian.

African traditional thought system is firmly rooted majorly in their culture, believe, norms and value. But before we proceed to looking at some of these thought views which are communalistic in nature. It is therefore imperative to know that in African culture, “a normal human being has three levels of existence; first, as an individual; second, as a member of a group and third, as a member of the community”.7 All the three levels of existence are merged together in African culture. This is because in African traditional society there is interdependence of existence, no body lives in isolation. A solitary individual does not exist. It is the society that determines and pattern the life of an individual. This is so because everybody being a life-force interacting with each other; whatever affects one life-force has correlated effect on the others. “Order in the individual implies order in the society; disorder in the individual means the same to the society”.8 However this does not implies that no individual existence or individual being held responsible for whatever deed but this only implies the form of affection and unity that occurs in the traditional African society whereby they show utmost concern and sense of belonging to one and other.  However it is imperative to pin out some of the salient features in African traditional society that makes them to be communalistic.

Firstly, African people are been considered to be very religious people, Mbiti J. S said “to be an African man is to be religious”9. Religion takes a very important aspect in the life of an African man, the belief, tradition, myths, customs, moral, actions and even social relationship is based on religion, religion takes an absolute monopoly in African concepts and experiences of life, hence we cannot but point out the aspect of religion as one of the core issues that brings African’s together and make them to have a communal life, because individuals categorizes members of their religious confine as their brother irrespective of tribe and geographical location.  Moreover the sense of belonging shared in religious houses cannot be over-emphasized as a core issue of communal living in traditional African society.

Secondly, the culture of people is not an individualistic affair but that of the community, because we are born into our culture. Hence, African gives high reference to their culture because they believe that their culture is their pride and identity. African traditional society sees culture as a means of identity and unity. Culture is seen as what connect the past with the present. The norms and values of Africans are firmly rooted in their culture which is communalistic. O.L Bankole said that “African culture contributes to the peace and harmony in African society’’.10African culture at that time was communal and by that it serves as a means of unity, identification and love. We cannot talk about African communalistic thought view without making re-course to their culture which carries within it their communal mode of dressing style, their religion, mode of naming children among others which form the basic mode of identification in African culture. It should be noted that Africans does not have just one culture but all Africans reference their culture as a sign of identity and unity because their culture is communal and not individualistic or in isolation.

More so, the social obligation to work is communal in African society. It is believed that work occupies a prominent place in African socio-cultural and economic set-up.

It is work that determines the essence of man. This explains why the social obligation to work is central to the feature of African socialist structure. Work in African society is neither enslavement nor for the accumulation of capital for some certain set of people but rather it is to promote the interest of the community.11

Only the aged people are excluded from work in African traditional society, because it is believed they have worked during their youthful days and it’s time for them to reap the fruit of their labour. But aside that, everybody in the community are workers who work to promote both their livelihood and that of their fellowmen who constitute the community. Wealth in African is for the service of all the community, loopholes that make it possible for the exploitation of a class of people by others were not existence in ancient African society. The attitude of African to work is rooted in his value system which is humanistic. Nyerere opines that ‘‘in traditional African society everybody was a worker...’’ he also went further to say that the whole essence of work is for upgrading the status and standard of living of the totality of people in the community which constitute an unbroken life-force.12

Moreover, Margret Roberts said that “African socialism is the common effort to create wealth”.13works was communal in ancient African traditional society. It leads to communal wealth and there was no room for exploitation. Furthermore, there is no issue of class stratification in ancient African society, it is a classless society. The issue of one class working for another was never for exploitation but on a mutual agreement of benefit. Ndubuisi.F explains that individual work that are too cumbersome for one person to do are been done in ancient African society

In ancient African society when a person needs help of people to work with in his personal venture, other members of the community are mobilized through either the age grade system of kindred unit to render help to whosoever needs it in his personal work. In doing this there is no attempt to create the impression that a number of people are being used to enrich a person. The individual involved is expected to use proceedings from such work to cater for the interest and well-being of larger number of the community than to appropriate for his personal interest.14

We can see the spirit of communalism at work. There is no compulsion of the age grade but it is in no wise the age-long culture cultivated in everyone which make them see themselves as part of the life-force that constitute the community and realize that the individual wellbeing is intertwined with that of the community. So there was the spirit of communalism at work which gives no room for class stratification.

Moreover, ownership of property most especially land is communal in ancient African society. No individual has full claim to land ownership. The land belongs to the community:

in a traditional African society it was considered normal and natural that land which is given to us by the creator, should not be monopolized by the few to detriment of the masses, but should be the joint property of people, under the supervision of the kings or chief who is responsible for the society as a whole.15

Land was not a commodity to be sold, but was allocated to members of the community to work for their survival and that of the community. Properties at that time are communal. No wonder we see most old Nigerian schools carrying name like that of the town for instance, Ikare City Academy or using the names like community secondary or primary schools, which proves the past to be right about the communitarian life style of the ancient African people because they serve as point of references that property were collectively owned and managed by the community. This portrays communalism mindset of the Africans.

Also, ancient African society operates a patrician society, which sees men as the head of both the family and the society. There is high reference for male child as far as a family is concerned and they have been more useful and important in helping in the communal work. They believe the male foes have more agility in terms of communal responsibility than the female. Hence, there is a form of communal acceptability of the male force, as they are superior over the female foes. Notwithstanding the female foes are adhered to with much care and trained to possess good moral virtue. O.L Bankole posits that “the practice of promiscuity is been discouraged”16. Most especially among the female foes as female virginity is communally celebrated in African society most especially when a lady is discovered to be a virgin at the night of her marriage. This implies that in ancient African society there is high regard for decency and morality, both among the male who they see as superior and the female who they considered to be inferior. There is communal moral discipline for a lady who was discovered not to be a virgin at the night of her marriage and this act is socially and culturally unacceptable in ancient African society because such person is viewed to have brought shame not only to herself but to the community as a whole and as such, the lady faces social rejection from her people.

However, leadership duties are been left for the elders of the land as high reference is been given to the aged people has having experience to control the society and these elders help in the orderliness of the community which is not done on their own self will but after consulting the members of the community and as such, laws and orders as well as measures through which punishment are being melted out to people are based on the collective agreement of the people. The government in ancient African traditional society makes decision based on communal agreement and not individual decision. This communal way of leadership in the ancient African society fosters transparency in government.

Also, it is believed by both Gbadegesin.S17and Fayeni K. A18that the making of one’s personality and character formation is base on the community and that to become “omoluabi” is to act in accordance to the community which leads to the popular Yoruba dictum that “ojumeji lo bi omo sugbon igbaoju lon n wo” which means only two eyes begot a child but, thousand trains the child. This means that in ancient African society starting from the birth of a child to the character formation and eventual death of that child, there is a communal influence and as such, the life of man in Africa is based on communal existence and anything that becomes of the child is been traced down to the community.

In conclusion, the above are some of the communalistic outlook of African thoughts which make them distinct from other parts of the world. Although there are still more, but it is highly essential to note that the name a child bears in African community till date is never in isolation, but a communal name which can be either family name, hereditary name, or occupational name which still proves the communal spirit in African thought till date.

This chapter has been able to serve as a solid background into what community is, what communalism is all about, and what operate in African society in relation to their communalistic thought system and how they live. As such, it will serve as a basic foundation to the subsequent chapters of this research work because it will enable us to have a juxtaposition between were we were coming from, where we are and where we are going in relation to the trend of modernization in African society. 



  1. K Gyekye Tradition and Modernity: Philosophical Reflection on the African Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997)43.
  2. W Sally et al, ed Oxford Advanced English Learner’s Dictionary (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)291.
  3. K Gyekye (1997) 42.
  4. S Gbadegesin “Individuality, Community and the Moral Order” In P.H Coetze and A.P.J Roux ed The African Philosophy Readers (New York: Rutledge publisher, 1998) 294.
  5. F Ndubuisi “A Concept of Man in an African Communalism” in C.S Momoh the Substance of African Philosophy (Edo: Auchi Press, 1989)423.
  6. S Gbadegesin (1998)294.
  7. F Ndubuisi (1989)425.
  8. F Ndubuisi (1989)424.
  9. J. S Mbiti African Religion and Philosophy (London: Heineman, 1969)262.
  10.  O.L Bankole “Culture and Development in Africa” in T Ebijuwa. Philosophy and Social Change: Discourse on values in Africa (Ibadan: Hope publication Ltd, 2007)29.
  11.  F Ndubuisi (1989)428.
  12. F Ndubuisi (1989)428.
  13.  M Roberts “A Socialist Look at African Socialism” in W H Friedland et al, ed African Socialism (California: Stanford University Press, 1978)80.
  14.  F Ndubuisi (1989)430.
  15.  F Ndubuisi (1989)431.
  16.  O.L Bankole (2007)33.
  17.  S Gbadegbesin (1998)296.
  18.  K.A Fayemi “Human Personality and the Yoruba World View: An Ethico Sociological Interpretation” A Journal of Pan African Studies, vol 2, no 9(Lagos: Lagos State University Press, 2009)172.













The previous chapter examines the communitarian world view of the Africans. This world view has longed been tainted by modernization among other things modernization has impacted positively as well as negatively on the continent of Africa. This chapter therefore aims at giving a vivid explanation on modernization, its nature, and the extent of its impartation on Africa. It is observed that modernization impinges on every aspect of the African world view; this includes the cultural, social, political and economic aspects of the Africans.

Conceptualizing Modernization

The concept of modernization is a multi-dimensional concept that can be defined from different perspectives. The literal meaning of the concept posits it to be an advancement that is new, that intends to be different from traditional style1. Modernization is a departure from old ways of doing things which is believed to be outdated. Modernization is attractive because it seems to foster development more than the previous ways of doing things. Talking about modernization, it connotes a form of advancement and improvement which is believed to lead to the betterment of life and well being of people. It is germane to know that modernization cut-across every aspect of human life and endeavour. For instance, we can have modernization in terms of culture and identity, science and technology, communication, economy among others. Modernization tends to bring new and easier ways of doing things than the old ways. It’s also a sign of relieve.

It should be noted that modernization cannot be discussed extensively without making recourse to globalization. In view of this, Arowolo Dare2 among other scholars, have made a factual statement that modernization cannot be discussed extensively without making recourse to globalization. The quest for modernity has propelled a lot of new innovations and advancements which have given rise to a globalised world today. Also, Helen L explains modernization to be a quest that African societies accept humbly by going through the pain of development as an inevitable condition of transition from tradition to modernity3. This assertion implies that the task of attaining modernity is a gradual process which is not attained on a platter of gold or with ease. More so, “Modernization is seen as the application of the results of modern science for the improvement of the condition of human life”4.Which implies that for an individual to attain modernization, such individual must be able to have the ability to control changes that will lead to the advancement and betterment of human life in an effective way. In addition, modernization fosters changes. Modernization deals with the improvement of the standard of living of human being. In a null shell, when we mean that an individual is modern, it means such person has the power to be effective and control notable changes.

Modernization is a gradual change or transition which occurs via civilization. At this junction, it is important to know that although modernization and civilization are closely related because they both point to change. However, they vary in terms of degree. Civilization can be conceived as an act that brings improvement and enlightenment but modernization is advancement from the old or traditional way of doing things. It is very much possible for civilization to take place without modernization taking effect. For instance, as a child grows up in life, he gets more enlightened on how to eat, talk, dress among others, this process of enlightenment is a process of getting civilized but this enlightenment does not necessitate that modernization has taken effect because there is every possibility that the child still uses out dated implement to eat and communicate or even putting on outdated cloths but dresses properly. In that case, civilization has taken place but modernization has not yet taken effect. However, people can poses modern implement but might not have got civilized to understand its uses. So civilization can be conceived more of an intellectual enlightenment while Modernization can be viewed more from the perspective of practical changes. Hence, both concepts are still talking about the occurrence of change Just as the Ancient Greek philosopher has said that “everything in life is in a state of flux’’5. This implies that in life changes are constant. Therefore, modernization has become an element in life that fosters change and development and as a result of Africans incessant quest for change, African nations have humbly strived to accept the pain of development as an inevitable condition of transition from tradition to modernity.

Having looked at the explicit meaning of what modernization is all about; it will be germane to know that arguments have been raised by scholars in recent time about Africa being the cradle of ancient civilization with most of these scholars identifying the base of civilization to be the ancient city of Egypt. On this note J.S Mbiti posits that “black Africa was the mother of civilization... the ancient Egyptian civilization was brought by the product of black Negro Africans”6. But on a contrary opinion, some African scholars have negated this very position by saying that civilization and modernization were alien to Africans and was brought to Africa during the colonial era:









Civilization and modernization was brought into Africa by the white colonialist. He posits that Modernization is the movement of the 1950s and1960s. It is an economic theory that is rooted in capitalism. The concept of modernization incorporates the full spectrum of the transition and drastic transformation that a traditional society has to undergo in order to become modern. Modernization is about Africa following the developmental footsteps of Europe who are majorly the former colonizer of Africa. Modernization policies intended to raise the standard of living of the poor often consist of disseminating knowledge and information about more efficient techniques of production. For instance, the notable modernization strategies and policies are common to both the pre and post-colonial states in Africa. On their arrival in Africa, whites tasked themselves with the responsibility of bringing modernization to the continent. No wonder why they labeled Africa as “dark continent” which needed to be enlightened (modernized).


Similarly Sen further buttresses this position by positing that:

...the author of the ideal type of modern society all happen to come from the industrially advance countries in northern Europe and north America... and one gets the impression that the ideal modern type was constructed to fit these countries as they became after the industrial revolution8.

It is very much evident from the above claim that modernization was brought to Africa by the westerners during the colonial era and Africans accepted it as a quest to change and get civilized. This attempt to get civilized (like the western world) has led to modernization vis-a-vis globalization. Hence, we shall be having a concise look at the positive impact of modernization on Africans

Impact of Modernization on Africans

African society being labeled the dark continent of the world around 1950s and 1960s, has in no wise witnessed a lot of advancement today which was caused by the quest for modernity, this quest for modernity has been both beneficial to African continent and the world as a whole. The quest for modernity has driven through all nook and cranny of African society which propel Lawrence Bankole to say that “Africa norms and values have withstood modernization and change10. So it will be ignorant on our part not to bring out the contributions of modernization to African society.

The quest for modernity in Africa has led to advancement in terms of scientific and technological development which has been the most distinct contribution of modernization to African society. “Modernization has brought improvement to Africa in terms of ... biometric research and pharmaceutical manufacturing...”11.The above two listed areas signify the effect of modernization in African health sector. It should be noted that the contributions of modernization in African society are empirically verifiable, looking at the improvement in the health sectors of African nations. We cannot but overemphasize the effect of modernization. For instance, the aspect of the DNA that is being used as a detective instrument of true ownership of a child, more so, modernization has been essential in the aspect of crime detecting by using modern tools for easy identification of a crime scene or people involved in a criminal act either by the use of closed circuit television camera (CCTV) or verification of finger prints.

Modernization has contributed immensely to the improvement of African pharmaceutical sector, we have a lot of herbal medical centers in Africa that produce herbal drugs that are indigenous to us, which modernization has helped to improve by giving them more credibility and uniqueness than the time past. For instance, the aspect of the dosage to be used, the content there in, and even the way and manner of its packaging has in no wise advanced immensely and has resulted in the level of advancement of African science.

 Another notable impact of modernization in African society is in the economic sector, in view of this important improvement in Africa economy, Ogungbemi.S asserts that modernization has brought economic improvement to Africa12.This implies that African societies have witnessed improvement in terms of economy; the quest for modernity implies the quest for change and advancement. As a matter of necessity we cannot make mention of the economy without making recourse to the aspect of commerce and industries. African society has developed in the aspect of establishment of industries and companies which have contributed to the increase in the economic standard o

Submitted: August 04, 2015

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