The Relevance of Kom Ethics to African Development
International Journal of Philosophy
Volume 2, Issue 3, June 2014, Pages: 36-47
Received: Jul. 24, 2014; Accepted: Aug. 3, 2014; Published: Aug. 20, 2014
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Author
Mbih Jerome Tosam, Department of Philosophy, Higher Teacher Training College Bambili, University of Bamenda, Cameroon
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Abstract
This paper uses the moral philosophy of the Kom people of the North West Region of Cameroon as a paradigm of an African moral thought. The paper hinges on the premise that contrary to some Western ethnographic categorization of Africans as primitive and bereft of the capacity for ratiocination and morality, the concept of good and evil, right and wrong, and virtue and vice, on which morality is embedded, are cultural universals. Kom ethics is essentially communitarian; it prizes interpersonal relations in an interdependent world. An action is right if it promotes the common good, and is wrong if it does not. In this paper I argue that the surest way to African development lies in a critical synthesis of African traditional and Western ethical values. No society which is said to be developed today has done so by completely jettisoning its own values. Development requires adaptation, borrowing and learning from others, and the filtering of values; it does not require the complete rejection of our cultural beliefs, values and practices. The predominant Western ethical values, utilitarianism and Kantianism, have been deficient in proffering solutions to Africa’s development problems. Utilitarianism and Kantianism emphasize respect for individual autonomy, thereby distancing persons from others, and discouraging solidarity with other members of the community. The West has a lot to learn from African indigenous cultures, if she can be open and tolerant as other cultures have been to Western culture because every culture is a borrower and lender.
Keywords
Kom, African Ethics, Morality, Solidarity, Common Good, Values, Development
To cite this article
Mbih Jerome Tosam, The Relevance of Kom Ethics to African Development, International Journal of Philosophy. Vol. 2, No. 3, 2014, pp. 36-47. doi: 10.11648/j.ijp.20140203.12
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