A truly African philosophy

Photo by Chris de Bode/Panos ‘Consolation philosophy’ understands the human being as a unity of feeling and reason, in a cosmos rich with primal emotion by Ada Agada is a research fellow at the University of Calabar in Nigeria. His book Existence and Consolation: Reinventing Ontology, Gnosis, and Values in African Philosophy (2015) was a winner in the American Library Association’s Choice/ACRL list of Outstanding Academic Titles. Edited by Sam Dresser The ambitious African philosopher finds herself between the devil and the deep blue sea. She has to convince the West that she has something interesting to say about philosophy. She has to insist that … Continue reading A truly African philosophy

The Kenyan Beach Town Malindi Is a Tropical Paradise—With a Mafia Problem

Photo Credit: Megan lacobini de Fazio The Kenyan coastal town of Malindi is known for its pristine white beaches and Italian vibe, but it has a dark side as well. by Megan Iacobini De Fazio If it weren’t for the oppressive humidity and the slight scent of frangipani, you might think you were in Italy. In the corner of a restaurant, a skinny woman with brassy blonde hair, diamante earrings and skin the color of old leather pushes the remains of her penne al pomodoroaround on the plate, before finally giving up and signaling to the Kenyan waiter: “Un espresso, perfavore!” A … Continue reading The Kenyan Beach Town Malindi Is a Tropical Paradise—With a Mafia Problem

Drums, Lies, and Audiotape

ILLUSTRATION BY DANIEL HERTZBERG When I was invited to drum in Ghana, I gladly accepted. Then something went wrong. BY ALEXANDER GELFAN My wife Ingrid and I had been in Aburi, Ghana for just over a week when our host, Kwame Obeng, informed me that I’d be joining the royal drummers for a performance at the chief’s palace the following afternoon, in celebration of an important holy day. It’s not as if I was unprepared. I’d first met Obeng three years earlier, when he came to Toronto to coach a drumming troupe made up of Ghanaian immigrants and a lone … Continue reading Drums, Lies, and Audiotape

What good is religion?

Clinic run by nuns in the village of Kati, near Bamako, Mali, in 1994. Photo by Abbas/Magnum International development has focussed on material goods, but religion has an important role to play in human flourishing by Manini Sheker is a scholar and writer interested in religion, the arts, social justice, the environment and the good life. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, openDemocracy and Litro, among others Edited by Sam Haselby The Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom (1999) begins with a parable from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Maitreyi asks her husband Yajnavalkya whether she would achieve immortality if she had all … Continue reading What good is religion?

Envy’s hidden hand

Nyae-Nyae in northern Namibia is the last place in Namibia where Ju/‘hoansi are free to hunt in the traditional way. Photograph by James Suzman Namibian hunter-gatherers deride those who stand out. What does this tell us about why, and how, we care about fairness? by James Suzma  is an anthropologist and head of the Cambridge-based research and support group Anthropos. His latest book is Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen (2017). Edited by Sam Haselby Selfish traits such as envy have a bad reputation. They are, after all, ‘deadly sins’, ‘impurities of the heart’ and, according to the Summa Theologica (1485) of Thomas Aquinas, their … Continue reading Envy’s hidden hand

So, Uh, What’s Going On With the Sahara Desert?

The Sahara desert in western LibyaPhoto: Luca Galuzzi (Wikipedia) by Maddie Stone Stretching 3.5 million square miles across northern Africa, the vast sand dunes and rocky plateaus of the Sahara cover more ground than the continental United States. Now, a pair of scientists is making a provocative claim that the world’s largest desert has expanded 10 percent since the early 20th century, effectively adding another Texas-sized chunk. It sounds bad! But some outside experts contacted by Earther expressed serious doubts about study’s findings, suggesting more research on the Sahara, and better data collection across northern Africa, are sorely needed. To track changes … Continue reading So, Uh, What’s Going On With the Sahara Desert?