Marginalisation in African Philosophy: Women and the Environment

September 21, 2016 - September 23, 2016
The Conversational School of Philosophy, University of Calabar

Senate Chambers

Selected speakers:

Ada Agada
University of Nigeria
Olajumoke Akiode
University of Lagos
Granes Anke
University of Vienna
Kevin Behrens
University of the Witwatersrand
Jonathan Chimakonam
University of Calabar
Azille Coetzee
University of Stellenbosch
Mesembe Edet
University of Calabar
Mangena Fainos
University of Zimbabwe
Bruce Janz
University of Central Florida
Helen Lauer
University of Tanzania
Bernard Matolino
University of KwaZulu-Natal
University of Pretoria
Chinedum Nwajiuba
Federal University Ndufu-Alike
Sophie Oluwole
Independent researcher
Sanya Osha
Universiteit Leiden
Godfrey Tangwa
University of Yaonde


Jonathan Chimakonam
University of Calabar
Loiuse Du Toit
University of Stellenbosch
University of Pretoria

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Theme: "Marginalisation in African Philosophy: Women and the Environment". 

Date: September, 21-23, 2016

Venue: Senate Chambers, University of Calabar

Keynote lecture by the Governor of Cross River State, Senator, Prof. Ben Ayade on “The Cross River Forests: Our Obligation to Future Generations”.

Why Cross River State and Calabar?

Cross River State is the number one tourist destination in Nigeria from which it derives its nickname “The People’s Paradise”. Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, is also the leading tourism city of Nigeria with sites such as Old Residency, Duke Town and the Colonial Museum showcasing the colonial history. Also, the Marina Museum, and the Marina harbour showcasing the history of slavery. Other tourist sites include the botanical garden, the zoo garden, Mary Slessor Tomb, Tinapa resort, Marina resort with cinema, boat ride and other attractions. With many tourist spots, Cross River plays host to numerous tourists from within and outside Nigeria every year. Located in the serene Southern part of Nigeria, (Coordinates: 5°45′N8°30′E) with friendly and hospitable population, the State maintains a good record of non-violence and very low crime rate making it the number one tourist destination in Nigeria. With an area of 20,156 km2 (7,782 sq mi) and population of 3,337,517, the state is home to The Cross River National Park, a world Biodiversity hotspot covering a total area of about 4,000 km2. Cross River has two air access points, Margaret Ekpo International, Calabar and Bebi Airstrip, Obanliku. The government has been active in developing the eco-tourism potential in the Cross River national park. The park has been given the motto "The Pride of Nigeria". The Kanyang tourist village, about one hour's drive from Calabar, will give visitors a base from which to view the park, with a lodge, restaurant and wildlife museum. Activities include game viewing, bird watching, gorilla tracking, mountaineering or hiking, sport fishing, boat cruising and the Botanical garden and Herbarium in Butatong. Attractions include the Kwa Falls, in a narrow, steep gorge near the headwaters of the Kwa River. The deep plunge pool at the foot of the waterfall was hidden under the thick canopy of the tropical rainforest before deforestation. The Agbokim Waterfalls on the Cross River descend in terraces through the tropical rainforest. There is a mini zoological garden housing species of animals rarely found in Nigeria, which has helped save some rare species from extinction. Women groups in the rural villages have played and continue to play important roles in the preservation of Cross River forests. The above brief explains why we have chosen Cross River State and Calabar as the host of this International Colloquium on "Marginalisation in African Philosophy: Women and the Environment". 

About the Colloquium:

This colloquium is coming at a time when the issues of women and environment are still very much neglected by governments, corporate bodies and academics in the sub-Saharan Africa. The entrenched traditional world-views which privilege men over women and humans over the environment make it difficult for the modern day challenges posed by the neglect of these issues to become obvious. We have two sub-themes namely: women and environment in African Philosophy.

First, the United Nations General Assembly in 1996 adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA) as a program of action against gender inequality. The 20 year assessment of the BPfA implementation does not show much progress in the sub-Saharan Africa. It is clear how women subordination affects the economy and socio-political development in the society. And it has also been echoed the economic, social, political and educational roles which women can play for the growth of a state. The pertinent questions are: to what extent do world-views inspire women subordination in the sub-Saharan Africa? To what extent do governments, academia and corporate bodies condone this? What roles has philosophical education played to ameliorate or escalate this problem? What are the questions of African philosophy and how do they accommodate women? How has African philosophy marginalised women in its questions? To what extent can African philosophy help in solving this problem?

Second, there is little academic attention from other disciplines and even more so from African philosophy addressing environmental concerns in the sub-Saharan Africa. In an age where the environment is a serious issue and Africa with its poverty and lack of requisite infrastructure (being virtually indifferent) would be worse hit by environmental crises as is presently the case in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. One feels compelled as an African philosopher not to keep quiet and do nothing. This second theme does connect with first in a way. Ecofeminists for example are those who hold that humans mistreat the environment just the same way men mistreat women believing it to be a means rather than an end. There are also some scholars who believe that the way we conceive the environment is at the heart of its abuse. What then are the likely scenarios in the sub-Saharan Africa? Do the Niger Delta people for example who struggle for compensations from the oil corporations do so for the sole reason that their environment which serves as means have been damaged or do they also fight for their environment as an end in itself? Why is logging/deforestation a problem for Cross River State of Nigeria? What is the nature of relationship between the people of Cross River State and their environment/forests? Why do Africans need to conserve their environment? Do African cultures reflect the positions of biocentricism, ecocentricism, animal rights and Gaia hypothesis, or what do they say in connection to these positions? What about our obligations to posterity? Do Africans of today owe any obligations to future generations with respect to the way they treat their environment? What is the level and need of awareness and environmental education? What roles can and should African philosophy/philosophers play to save the African animals and environment from destruction?

There is fear that as women and the environment were neglected in Western philosophy for years until the recent time that the case in African philosophy might be worse. Presently, there are very few women philosophers in the sub-Saharan Africa who themselves feel like outcasts in the academic circle. There is an almost unspoken affirmation by men that women do not have the rigour for philosophy. There is fear that this would have dire consequences for Africa, Africans and African philosophy in the future.

Delegates are invited to submit a maximum of five hundred word proposal on any of the two themes of the colloquium i.e. women and environment in African Philosophy. Email your proposals to: [email protected] and [email protected] Deadline is March 27th, 2016. Acceptance will be communicated by April 27, 2016. Complete paper (6000 – 8000 words Max) will be submitted by August 30th, 2016.

Postgraduate session

There will be a special postgraduate session at the colloquium. Supervisors should encourage their students to submit abstracts for the postgraduate session. There will be special awards for the best three postgraduate presentations.

Special Presentations

There will be brief presentations by the Ministries of Women Affairs, Forestry and Climate Change, Environment and Niger Delta.

Cultural/Tourist Event:

The Organisers are working together with the tourism bureau of Cross River and the state ministry of Forestry and Climate Change to arrange selected cultural/tourist trip(s) at the end of the colloquium.

Papers presented at the colloquium will be published in a special issue of a journal in South Africa or as an edited volume by a reputable publisher.


Organisers believe it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation. Please note: Flight and accommodation of invited delegates will be covered by sponsors.


Dr. Jonathan O. Chimakonam….University of Calabar, Nigeria

Dist. Prof. Thaddeus Metz…..University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Prof. Louise du Toit…..University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Local Organisational Logistics by The Conversational School of Philosophy (aka, The Calabar School of Philosophy - CSP).

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