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Africentric Social Sciences for Human Liberation Author(s): Na'Im Akbar Source: Journal of Black Studies, Vol.

14, No. 4 (Jun., 1984), pp. 395-414 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2784083 . Accessed: 14/11/2013 18:28
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AFRICENTRIC SOCIAL SCIENCES FOR HUMAN LIBERATION


NA'IM AKBAR
Florida State University

of a people's Social sciencerepresents as muchan expression ideologyas it does a defenseof thatideology(Asante, 1980). contains elements ofimplicit The extent to which thatideology to whichthatparticular social science oppression is theextent ofoppression. Nobles(1978a) discusses is infactan instrument like social science, thefactthat"Western Science,particularly has become an inthe economic and political institutions to reflect oftheoppressor and to strument theculture designed dominationand oppressionof allow for the more efficient theuncritical acceptanceof African peoples." Consequently, the assumptions of Western scienceby Africanpeople is to and oppression. Nobles,in participate in our owndomination the need fora social the same discussion,goes on to justify reality. Our objective sciencesystem reflective of our cultural inthisdiscussion ofWestern is to identify somecharacteristics some alternative for social scienceand to suggest assumptions of an African social science. theestablishment with the African social scientists havefailedto cometo grips factthatthetoolsthatthey have acquiredinthecourseoftheir trainingin the Westernsocial science traditionhave illto deal withthefundamental taskofliberating equippedthem
JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES, Vol. 14 No. 4, June 1984395-414 ? 1984 Inc. SagePublications,

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and psyeconomically, Africanpeople socially,politically, of numbers The apparentparadox of increasing chologically. Africansbeing trainedin the social sciencesparallelingexwhen is resolved inAfrican socialproblems increases ponential the of that the training character the implicit we understand Again,Nobles(1978a), have received. African social scientists the Africansocial discussion,characterizes in his insightful as being"confromthisalien framework scientist operating observes: He astutely incarcerated." ceptually
frame and referential assumptions, normative The worldview, likethesciencethey upon whichtheparadigmis based, must, substanceof withtheculture and cultural serve,be consistent thecultural with is inconsistent thepeople. Whentheparadigm the people who use it to assess of the phenomena, definition concepand/orevaluate thatphenomenabecome essentially tuallyincarcerated.

social handicapstheAfrican seriously Such an "incarceration" in his or herobjectiveof humanliberation. scientist has bought social scientist incarcerated" The "conceptually thatscienceis social scientists made by Western theassertion ofinquiry. Jacob form superior an objective and consequently ofscience in (1972) arguesagainstthevaluelessness Carruthers discussionof "Science and Oppression."This his masterful writer has arguedelsewhere (Akbar,1980)thatthe"objective" is a not does precludevalues because objectivity approach chooses to suspendfromhis or her value. Whenan observer certainlevels of reaction,then this is a value observations judgment.This is a criticalvalue because it ofteninvolves thatcould sourcesofinformation certain important dismissing (1981) offers as real. Ornstein alterwhatis perceived critically forthispointofviewin his observation: support
ofinquiry. involvesa limitation Scienceas a mode ofknowing is successful exclusion [italics The essenceofa good experiment fewother whilea very mine].One factormaybe manipulated

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processes are measured.... themethod ofpsychology has itself becomethegoal; thisconfusion has led,in thepast sixty years, to a 'radicalunderestimation' of thepossibilities.

If such a methodology has resultedin a "radical underestimation"of the possibilities forthe Westerners forwhomthe method to benefit, was intended one cannotfathom theextent ithas incurred forthepeopleintended to be ofunderestimation oppressedby such a perspective.
CHARACTERISTICS OF EURO-AMERICAN SOCIAL SCIENCE

Euro-American social science The modelthatcharacterizes can most succinctlybe seen in its model of normality. Normalityis establishedon a model of the middle-class, Caucasian male of European descent. The more that one approximates thismodelin appearance, values,and behavior, the more "normal" one is consideredto be. The inevitable of normality is a brandof conclusionfrom such assumptions In thismodel. fact, themoredistant devianceforanyoneunlike or distinct one is from thismodelthemorepathological one is considered to be. The obviousadvantageforEuro-Americans theirrealityas the realityand is that such normsconfirm of theirsuperiority flaunts statements as scientifically based "fact."The history of Westernsocial scienceis repletewith evidenceof thisethnocentric assumption of normality. Socithe"middleclass" as thenormative ologyhas identified group. all non-Western Anthropology has identified peoplesvariously or uncivilized. as savage, primitive, The volumesof psychoover the last 100 years has been based on logical literature on Europeans,exclusively observations primarily Caucasian, predominantly male,and as RobertGuthrie (1976) has noted, of most of the "even the rat was white."The formulations notable scholars who have shaped the thoughtof Eurosuch as Freud,Jung,G. StanleyHall, Americanpsychology or William McDougall, and B. F. Skinnerhave all directly

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ofEuropeanracesovernonthesuperiority indirectly asserted Europeanraces. ofWestern social Unawareoftheethnocentric assumptions scholars havebecomeadvocatesoftheir science, manyAfrican thesetheoriesand theirimplicit own inferiority by utilizing ofthese The research and scholarship African American norms. oftheir thenegative social scientists haveconfirmed assertions It has led to a preoccupation Euro-American counterparts. withdeviance,deficiency, and an excessiveinvolvement with "victim scholarshave often takenon analysis." NativeAfrican the position of the neocolonialist scholar advocating the "improvement" of his or her people by the adoption of and social patterns Europeanpersonaltraits (see Fanon, 1967, 1968). African-American scholarshave becometheneo-slave masterand neo-oppressor by advocatingsuccessby identifiwith cationorintegration Euro-Americans as theonlybasisfor or denying the success.Our positionis not one of minimizing presence of rampant social and personal problems as a and consequenceofdecades ofcolonialism and/oroppression is undeniable.The slavery.Such extremehuman suffering inthecapacity to alter problem is thatwe areextremely limited any of theseconditions because of the "conceptualincarcerin this ation" thatNobles has describedand thatwe identify discussionas a kindof paradigmatic stagnation. A similar is thatofnegative difficulty identification with the Euro-American social scientist. Such a perspective leads to rather extreme reactions againsttheEuro-American model.It advocates that whateverhas been seen as positive in the be viewedas negative in a European model mustnecessarily Black model. Whateverhas been viewed as negativeabout Blacksfrom theperspective oftheWhite modelis automatically assumedto be positivein the Black model. The pointof this discussion, real limitations withtheEurothoughitidentifies centric theAfricentric approach,does not presume approach to be theobverse.The Africentric modelmustbe viewedas a of theEurocentric perspective independent model;otherwise,

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it too will become merely reactiveand therefore persistently dependent on theEuropean model. Models provide the definitions that give rise to methodologies. In fact,models or paradigmsveryclearlycircumscribenotonlythe"askable" questions, butalso themodelsof observation or methodologies. Ornstein (1981) observes: Anycommunity ofpeopleholdsin common certain assumptionsaboutreality. Each scientific community of physicists, mathematicians, psychologists, orothers, shares an additional setofimplicit assumptions, called the paradigm. Theparadigm istheshared conceptions ofwhat is possible, theboundaries of thelimiting acceptable inquiry, cases. Methodologiesmake sense,then,onlyin the lightof models that breed them. In fact, Curtis Banks (1980) argues that aremerely models. methodologies waysto confirm preexisting of the Eurocentricparadigm is Therefore,understanding to the In addition forunderstanding itsmethodology. essential modelbeingnormatively based on theCaucasian,middle-class male of European descent,it also has othercharacteristics. of the Eurocentric Among these additional characteristics modelare thatitis individualistic, and materialrationalistic, istic.We shalldemonstrate howeach ofthesecharacterbriefly to the exclusion of others, renders a istics, particularly Eurocentric psychology essentially uselessas an instrument of humanliberation. The individualistic focus of the model operateswiththe assumptionthat the human identityis essentiallyin the individual.His corporate is ofsecondary identity significance in conceptualizing the person. As a consequence,much of Western has focusedon individual differences as psychology its major consideration. Even sociologydeals withsociety's witha seriesofindividual impacton theindividual and history is theassumption heroes.So fundamental thatthesubjectfor is theindividual have primary consideration thatmostthinkers ofan alternative without sacrificdifficulty conceiving approach

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ing or violating the supreme illusion of an autonomous human existenceand the sacred freedomof the illusionary being called an "individual."There is, in fact, a growing psychologists as towhether controversy amongEuro-American oftherole of indepenor nottherehas been an overassertion ofhumanbeings.Psychological denceas a desirableattribute ofexternal fatecontrol, dependence, and submissiveconcepts Such personality characteristics. nessareall viewedas negative thedesirability of for a negation is onlya camouflaged assertion of the European the Americanideal ruggedindividualistic conquered this wilderness immigrant who "single-handedly The idea oftheprimacy ofthe and settled thisgreatcountry." and thenuclearfamily individual and hisuniquemotivations, and its exclusivenessare fundamentalconcepts in EuroAmerican social science. ofthismodelthatextends thenotion Another characteristic The funof individualism of competition. is the desirability damental American economic theoryis one that glorifies for socialprogress. The mostefficiently competition as essential individuals are thosewho are mostassertive and functioning is lauded as the orientation" competitive. The "achievement Humanbeings areassumedaxiomaprizeofWestern progress. is realized and humanaccomplishment tically to be in conflict by the triumphof the weak over the strong.The classic McClelland (1961) book, The AchievingSociety,concluded thata people could be accorded the statusof beingcivilized werecharaconlyiftheir motivations (thatis, industrialized) his data achievement. for terizedby a highneed Predictably non-middleshowednon-Caucasian, non-European, nonmale, class people to be at the lower end of this fundamental characteristic. individual has failedto realizethatin thegarbof Oppressedhumanity "science"theWestern worldhas utilizeda social and psychoof to legitimize theassertion logical paradigmthatfunctions their racial and nationalsuperiority. Whathas been assumed

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to be an apolitical,objectivesystem is, in fact,theessenceof Euro-American, Caucasian politics. To assertthatEuro-American social scienceis rationalistic is to imply thata scienceshouldbe irrational. Certainly, thisis It is clear thatscienceas conceivedin the not our intention. limiWestern tradition has some frequently unacknowledged tations. Ornstein(1981) observes: "Science as a mode of knowinginvolves a limitationon inquiry."Because of its limitations, critical aspects ofthehuman socialprocess areoften excludedfrom consideration. Ornstein continues:
It is incomplete to hold thatknowledge is exclusively rational. Even scientific thatmostrationaland logical of our inquiry, pursuits, could not proceed withoutthe presenceof another act on personal typeofknowledge.... Scientific investigators It is the geniusof the knowledge, biases, hunches,intuition. thatthearational becomestranslated scientific method thought so thatotherscan into the rationalmode and made explicit, followit.

as ofthealternative to a rational Ornstein's designation system thanirrational "arational"rather seemsappropriate. ofthe ofthisrationalistic One ofthelimitations component Euro-American social sciencemodelis itsexclusionoffeeling or affect.Emotion is considered irrelevantat worst and disruptive at best in the scientific endeavor.Great energy is to expendedto maintain objectivity and excludeanyaffective componentof the inquiry.The consequenceis that such a scientist thatpermits and even developsa passiveinsensitivity orevena an Auschwitz, condonesan American slavery system, neutron bomb calmlydescribed as capable of destroying all people,butleavingbuildings and physical structures standing. The economistneed not address the elementsof his or her theory thatdefine excessive opulenceforthefewto be based on the privation of the many. The observer who gives any demonstration of affective or emotionalinvolvement in his or

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orjust distracted, is viewedas inappropriate, matter hersubject deservesbeingdiscounted.Ornstein and therefore irrational to thispoint: pertinent (1981) makesan observation
We deemphasizeand even devalue the arational,nonverbal of predominantly Educationconsists modes of consciousness. precious and we are taught and "rithmetic," "ritin" "reading," capabilities. ourbodies,ourintuitive about ouremotions, little

Because of our "uneducated" emotional selves we usually of remainemotional idiots and fail to obtain the benefits thatmodality. knowledge thatcomesfrom of this model, at least for the The final characteristic focus. It is purposes of this discussion,is its materialistic characteristics. areessential assumedthatoutercharacteristics are designatedas "behavioral Whether these characteristics is thatwhatis directly data," or "class data," the assumption whatis knowableand is the"mostreal."Therefore, observable is restricted to some aspect of the material. what is relevant to this Ornstein(1981) again makes a relevantobservation issue. He states:
knowledge has screened A strict on verbalintellectual emphasis out much of what is or could be legitimatefor study in of meditation systems psychology-"esoteric" contemporary of "nonordinary realtheexistence are muchmisunderstood; ities"is not studiedbecause theydo not fitintothedominant paradigm, and neither,of course, do phenomena named "paranormal."

disparaging From the Westernsocial scienceperspective, ofnon-Western peoplesaremadewheninferences descriptions are madeaboutthehumanbeingsolelyon thebasisofmaterial has information ofesoteric and nonmaterial data. A dismissal of nonof manyintricate practices in thedescription resulted Such Western pagan, or primitive." people as "superstitious,

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social are a direct interpretations consequenceoftheWestern scientist's inabilityto grasp the esoteric.The tendencyto fragment behaviorfromthe broadercontextof the spiritual renders highly meaningful and esoteric dimensions of reality and significant human activitiesas meaninglessand insigIt is notsurprising thatpeoplewith lessopulentouter nificant. uncivilized, unintelligent, appearancesare adjudged inferior, and barbaric,even when such people may far surpass the and injustice,charitableness, compassion, materially affluent peacefulness. In summary, the Euro-Americanmodel or paradigmof of the Caucasian, social science views the characteristics to be theparadigmatic maleofEuropeandescent middle-class norm for human beings. Individualism,rationalism,and of thismodelthatdirect materialism are othercharacteristics of Euro-American science. theperception and methodologies ofanymodelofhuman these functioning Although components are critical,the limitationof the science ensues fromthe exclusiverelianceon these modalitiesfor observation.The on these reliance premise ofthisdiscussion is thattheexclusive aspectsofthemodelrenders Western social sciencean effective and exploitation. The oppresinstrument ofhumanoppression sion is likelyto be most evidentamong those least like the above. The major paradigmatic modelthatwe havedescribed of Euro-American objectionis thatall ofthesecharacteristics social sciencerenderit an ineffective forhuman instrument fromthis growth and liberation.It should not be surprising thatEurope and Americahave thelargest numbers of premise ofsocial and intheworldand a greater social scientists number humanproblems thanany nationin theworld.For example, child molestation,rape, bizarre sexual perversions, drug abuse, child abuse, and even racial conflictare virtually in most partsof the world,but reach unknownoccurrences thecharacteristics as one approximates epidemic proportions

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of the Euro-Americanmodel. The importanceof Euroto theseproremedies Americansocial sciencein providing as a modelfor as one evaluatesthissystem blemsis predictable and liberation. humangrowth thismodelare ones that emerging from The methodologies is an ofthemodel.The method thebasic assumptions reaffirm and the differences "objective"one, thefocusis on individual characsystem a count-and-measure through data is expressed of material teristic phenomena.
THE AFRICENTRIC MODEL OF SOCIAL SCIENCE

modelgrowsout ofseveral ofan Africentric Our discussion assumptions.We do not argue that a model for human the norm of a Black male of liberationshould substitute Africandescentfora Caucasian male of European descent. one limited would merelysubstitute Such a concretization from is utilized limited model."Africentric" modelforanother context theprimordial thatAfricaconstitutes theperspective repreAfrican-Americans and liberation. forhumangrowth of humanoppressentthemostextreme examplesof victims group on whichto sion and would be the most appropriate our focusis Therefore, demonstrate a liberation psychology. ontologicalconceptionof man as a model of on the African themost represents probably sinceAfrica humanity in general human" concept.Though the model has specific "naturally ofall African peopleinthe to thenationalliberation relevance applicableto thetransformation diaspora,itis moregenerally ofhumanbeingsin whatever nationalcontext. entailedin describing thismodelin a One ofthedifficulties modelis theimpliwiththe Eurocentric context comparative a contrastor model represents cation that the Africentric reaction to the former.As we have noted above, this is model actually not the case in thatthe Africentric definitely one that is actuallya conceptual antedatesthe Eurocentric For thesake ofcohesionand itspredecessor. from devolution

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greater clarity, wewillfocuson someaspectsofthisAfricentric model thatdemonstrate its relative strength to thecharacterofWestern istics social science, which we havedescribed above.
AFRICENTRIC NORM

The normoftheAfricentric modelis nature. The normative of this social science are based upon the characteristics thismayseem exquisiteorderofhumannature. Vague though it is and certainly in the Westerntradition, "unscientific" thephilosophical, considerably moreconsistent with religious, ofthemostenduring humansocieties. and symbolic tradition Thoughconcretely "humannature"ascribes undemonstrable, an order that is both universaland absolute. It is, in fact, is notto be Human adaptationand aberration metaphysical. to thiseffect have confused withhumanpotential. Arguments been advanced by such Westernnotables as Maslow, May, ofthehumanistic tradition. Rogers,and manyothers Though lackingin theprecisionof the intricately specific languageof it is more consistent the Westernsocial scientist, withthe of beinghuman. holistic, multidimensional polydeterminism of Westernsocial science, though The oversimplification more manageable,is disastrously impressively myopicin its exclusionof blatantly causal realities. and Logical positivism reductionism have tried to makemenand womenthoroughly rational and minute enough to fit a micro model of a unidimensional view of humanity. The Africentric model is comfortable with and metaphysical globalconceptions concepa macro model that actuallyexceeds the tions, and offers manipulationof the observingobserver whose object of or herself. observation is ultimately himself The example of a concept drawn fromthis naturalistic A consistent of modelis theconceptofsurvival. characteristic the natural order is its tendencyto preserveitself.Selfas the "first has been identified law of nature." preservation from This "law" is derived folkknowledge and not scientific

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itis thetype ofadage,intuitive fact, though orfolkwisdom that guideseventhestructuring ofWestern science.The Africentric theorist takessuch an assumption as an element of his or her paradigmand seeks to observethe consistency withwhich phenomenaobey this"law." It thenidentifies a normthatis all-inclusive and holistic,which says that normality is any process that operates in consistency with the tendencyof nature'sself-preservative Such a conclusionis not character. to theeminently dissimilar profound assertion ofthe"Law of relativity" whichmaintains thatmatter can be neither created nordestroyed, thatis,itis self-preservative, thefirst observing law of nature. Theoristsin Africanphilosophyand Africanpsychology, a specifically Mbiti(1970) and Nobles (1980), have identified of principle Africansocial science that theyidentify as the principleof collectivesurvival or "survival of the tribe." Observations, as then,of humanbehaviorcan be understood normal or abnormal to the degree that it adheres to this principle.Behaviors that maintain,enhance, or secure the ofthetribe"are normal.Behaviors thatthreaten "survival the survivalof the tribe are abnormal. Again, as Nobles has is neither illustrated, the"normal"family nuclear(thatis, the Eurocentric family models)nor extended, as some rejoinders to Eurocentricvictim analysis have asserted. The normal or"elastic"(Nobles, 1978b),capable of family is infact flexible naturalobjectiveof itssurvival. maximizing thefundamental Such a familycan be as effectively nuclear as extended, dependingupon what kinds of circumstances affected the survival of the family(tribe). The same point is true of functions to Nobles (1978b): within thefamily. According Functionally, or the performance of its (family) functions, would be fluidor elastic.That is, the performance of a particular function does or can "expand"intomanyother functions. offamily Such a characterization functioning beginsto hint of pragmatism. It is functional, but the pragmatism is res-

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trictedwithinthe guidelinesof natural orderliness. Family survivaldoes requiresecurity fromharm;it does not require inorderto secureitself. domination Thoughthere are barbaric instances ofpredator orientations thatexistin variousarenas of nature,because of certain"moral" capabilitiesof human beings, suchqualitiescannotbejustified as thebasisforhuman oppression.This balancing"moral" componentwill be discussedat greater length below.
CHARACTERISTICS OF AFRICENTRIC MODEL

The Africentric approach to social scienceconceptualizes selfas a collective It does notdeny"uniqueness," phenomena. but it does denythe isolatednotionof individualism, thatis, thatthe personcan be understood of otherperindependent sons. The "other"is notjust a mirror oftheselfin theCooley sensebutthe"other"is an expression ofself.The-fundamental adage emerging fromAfricanphilosophythat capturesthis of selfis theproposition: collective experience "I am because we are and becausewe are,therefore I am." (Mbiti,1970).This conceptionidentifies the collectiveconsciousnessas the appropriate arenaforhumanobservation. Nobles(1980) refers to thisas "experiential orthesharing communality ofa particular experience bya groupofpeople." The scientific questionis not one ofhow do individuals differ, butin whatwaysare people alike.Again,theholistic fundamentally balancedoes notargue for a mass conforming national character, but a sharingof certainuniversalhuman values and goals and the degreeto whicha person'suniqueness facilitates thosegoals. For example, reproduction of effective human beings is a universal objective that is not violated by individual characteristics thoughindividualfreedom is circumscribed by the collective does not have to need to realizethis objective.So, everyone reproduce,but everyoneis accountable for the health of humanity's offspring. Nobles (1980) maintains thattheexperiential communality is important in determining society'sfundamental principles

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aboutthenature suchas itsbelief ofhumanity and whatkindof In otherwords, humansshouldcreateforthemselves. society oreven indescribing, theworkofthesocial scientist assessing, improving societies or human beings must be a collective rather thanan individual phenomenon. African social theory to thegroup,unliketheWestern ascribespreeminence ascriptionof thisstatusto theindividual. Another oftheAfricentric is thatit characteristic paradigm theessenceofthehumanbeingas spiritual. identifies Certainly ofthehuman a holistic thefulldimensions modelmustinclude make-up: physical,mental,and metaphysical.In Western not only is mind and body (reason and dualistic thought, to be independent emotion)considered phenomena, butthere of is a trinitarian thatviews spiritas independent tendency both mind and body. Usually,however, is comspirituality pletely discounted in Western social science.Increasingly, with thegrowing even emphasison behaviorin thesocial sciences, themental orconsciousness as dimension has beendiscounted to understanding Relative to the irrelevant humanfunctioning. social scientists take a Eurocentric approach,the Africentric as a relevant "quantumleap" whentheyidentify spirituality of thehumanexperience. dimension The conceptofhumanity's essential spirituality merely suggeststhatwhenmen and womenare reducedto theirlowest terms and of a universal substance.Such an theyare invisible assumption implies that,ultimately, people are harmoniously alike and not dissimilar to theessenceof all thatis in nature. ofthispointofview Onenesswith nature is a natural extension thatprecludesassumptions of inevitable conflict amongmen and womenand withnature.Material,by its verynature,is fragmented and in conflict, obeying principles ofpolarity and of human tension.To theextent thatthematerial dimension is viewedas their essenceistheextent to which conflict is beings viewedas axiomaticto humanexistence. The Africentric approach,viewing humanity as ultimately reducible to a universal substance thatis harmonious with the

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thefundamental goodnessofhumanscosmos,implies entire of lifeto enhancelifein a congoodnessbeingthe tendency areconsidered potenHumanrelationships direction. structive among all of the tiallyas compatibleas are the relationships componentsof nature. Consequently, mutuallyfacilitating ofman.The Africentric to thisconception morality is endemic thatthat does not shyaway fromarticulating social scientist are whichis normalis also good. Moralityand spirituality have beenrelegated whichis whybothdimensions inseparate, in theEurocentric approach. to thedomainof thetheologian However,thevalues thatare made explicitin theAfricentric in the Eurocentric approach. present approach are implicitly is as much an implicit As we have noted above, objectivity to the explicitvalues in a subjective value as thatattributed of objectivity among Thereis a widelyacceptedmyth system. impliesorder, Since spirituality social scientists. Eurocentric is thenmorality and perfectability interdependence, harmony, in Morality, ofthehumanmake-up. a fundamental component the Africentric approach, is not in the formof the seriesof theologicalmoral systems. maximsfoundin the Eurocentric ofa naturalorderand is an acknowledgement simply Morality order. with that is man'sharmony normality a uniquelyhumantrait.It repreMoralityalso constitutes and selfsents the human being's capacityfor self-mastery byinstinct, theloweranimalspeciesregulated direction. Unlike the humanbeinghas the unique capacityforself-regulation. This exoneratesthe human being fromsome of the more brutishcomponentsof the natural order.This moral form humanbeingsto be in naturebutnot of naturein the permits compovictim senseoffalling to some ofitsmoredestructive of balance and, becomestheinstrumentation nents.Morality of the human model, it is an imperative in the Africentric make-upand not an option. modeldoes notdenytherelevance theAfricentric However, In fact, a balancebetween thismodelrepresents ofmateriality. in the and exoteric ontology represented theextreme material

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Eurocentricmodel and the extremespiritualand esoteric in the Easternmodels.This model will ontologyrepresented expeand objective subjective between crossvalidation permit An exampleofthismodelis perhapsseenintheAfrican rience. herbalists traditional healer.Such healersare simultaneously (users of objective power) and griots(recitersof "self" or healerrecogpower). The traditional of subjective conjurers order. ofmoralorderand material nizedtheinterdependence of thehuman impactson all dimensions A violationin either make-up. Such an approach does not demand a denial of butitdemands ortechnological advancement, material mastery oftheinner and outerworlds.In such a balanceddevelopment as a precipice one does notconstruct hugeskyscrapers a world, Instead,one's themselves. maythrow thederanged from which ofgravity is paralleledbyexploring skillin scalingtheheights thedepthsofthehumanmake-up. social scienceis its The finalcharacteristic ofan Africentric above,the As we have observed assumptions. epistemological the araprecludes social science of Eurocentric rationalism excluding muchofthehumanexperience. tional,consequently The Africentric approach assumes a universalknowledge rooted in knowledgeof the make-upof the human beings of theselfis through The mostdirectexperience themselves. VernonDixon (1976) observes: emotionor affect.
knowreality predompersons Homelandand overseasAfrican imagery, ofaffect and symbolic theinteraction inantly through In ofthesetwofactors produceknowledge. thatis,thesynthesis of man and the the "pure"Africanized worldview oftheunity there is no empty space between perceptual world, phenomenal to the feeling self,the the selfand phenomena.Affect refers holistically. emotive selfengagedin experiencing phenomena

admitsboth symbolsand This approach of Africentricity Emotional ofhumanactivity. determiners as legitimate affect and as a balanceforrationalas a meansofknowing reactions of thesignificance thismodel.Similarly, is legitimate within ity

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as an expressionof certain symbolsin theJungian tradition collectivearchetypes is also an approach of value. Cultural symbolsand rituals(such as namingceremonies and puberty intraditional as important rites societies) areconsidered causain Westtivedimensions in humanexperience. Such symbols ernsciencewould have little as either or validity independent dependentvariables, but in the Africentric paradigmthey Dixon (1976) further characterizes thisaffect/ 'could be either. symbolic connection by observing:
for the lattertermmeans Affect, however,is not intuition, orimmediate direct without knowledge (instinctive knowledge) from or reasoning about evidence. Affect recourse to inference does interact withevidence, evidencein theformof symbolic imagery.

interms is critical ofbothstructurSuch holistic knowledge as well as characterizing the ingtheAfricentric methodology For example,rather of certainobservations. appropriateness thanintelligence as whatis measuredby an IQ beingdefined test(that is, defining both a methodology and an arena of observation), intelligence would be defined bya person'sadeand developing. quacyin living wouldbe reflected Knowledge in thedegreeto whicha personis capable of maneuvering an environment offering obstaclesto hisor herdevelopment. So, intelligence wouldbe reflected in thedegreeto whicha person is capable of maneuvering an environment offering obstacles to his or her "collectiveself's"development. Consequently, intelligence wouldentail(1) knowledge ofthecollective reality of self,(2) knowledge of environmental obstaclesto effective (collective) to remove self-development, (3) actionsinitiated or mastersuch obstacles,and ultimately (4) knowledgeof the Divine and universal lawsthatguidehumandevelopment into knowledge of theCreator.An adequate assessment of intelligence would requireeffectively tappingthe full range of a people's symbolicimagery (such as, words,gestures, tones, rhythms, rituals).One could not evaluatea person's"knowl-

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edge" without knowing how effectively thatpersonconducts his or her fullbeing.Therefore, the possibility of a man or woman being assessed a genius on the basis of his or her external knowledge yetproving to be morally ineptwouldnot be conceivablefromthe Africentric approach. Similarly, a societywithopulenttechnology but social and moral decadencecouldnotbe viewed as an advancedormodelcivilization.
CONCLUSION

Africentricity is theformof a new paradigmforthesocial sciences. It grows out of the increasinginadequacy of the Eurocentric modelto addresstheescalating social problems of Westernsociety adequately. Most importantly, the model seeks to correctthe indirectoppressivefunction played by traditional Western science.Although themodelis based upon the tenets of traditionalAfrican philosophy,it does not exclude in its fundamental assumptionsthe possibility for on thepartsof people of otherethnicorinormative activity a conin factformalizes gins.The newparadigm and provides textformanyoftheissuesthatareincreasingly beingraisedby Western social scientists themselves. Theorists such as Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, Alan Watts, and manyothers outof theexistential and humanistic schoolshaveaddressed manyof the same issuesthatare raisedwithin the Africentric context and are resolved within theAfricentric model. elementoffered The most important by the Africentric for genuinehuman liberation paradigmis the opportunity thesocial sciencemodel. An objectiveof Africentric through social scienceis humanliberation.Since it deals specifically conditions withthehumanly oppressive experienced by Afrithediaspora,ithas an immediate can peoplethroughout objecfor the social, political,ecoan instrument tive of offering ofourpeople.The holistic liberation nomic,and psychological direction not onlyforsuch social model offers the of quality in general. liberation but an avenueforhumanliberation

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The courseofsuchliberation is through thevehicleoftransformation. An individualistic, materialistic, and rationalistic modelto theexclusionof othermodalities seriously limits the possibility for human transformation. Human potentialis limitedaccordingto this model and people can at best be A collective,spiritual,and modified,but not transformed. symbolicsystemaddresses a multidimensional being affect/ capable ofvastpotential and thecapacityfortransformation. It is appropriate thatthisparadigmshouldbe pioneered by African deniedin the people. Withour worldview completely victims to themisrepEurocentric we becameready paradigm, resentation of theirsocial science.It is within thehumanistic tradition of Africans thatwe shouldevolvea system thatnot but offers only retrieves our humanity the opportunity of humanadvancement forall people.

REFERENCES

for African-Americans. AKBAR, N. (1980) The evolutionof human psychology Publishedmanuscript presented to SREB StudentConference, Atlanta. The Theoryof Social Change. Buffalo: ASANTE, Molefi K. (1980) Afrocentricity: Amulefi. BANKS, C. (1980) Specifications fortheories within Black Psychology. Presented at 13thNationalConvention oftheAssociationofBlack Psychologists, Cherry Hill, NJ. CARRUTHERS, J. (1972) Science and Oppression.Chicago: Northeastern Illinois CenterforInnerCityStudies. University DIXON, V. (1976) "Worldviews and research in L. Kinget al. (eds.) methodology," AfricanPhilosophy:Paradigmsfor Research on Black Persons. Los Angeles: Fanon Researchand Development Center. FANON, F. (1968) The Wretched of the Earth.New York: GrovePress. ---(1967) Black Skin,WhiteMasks. New York: GrovePress. ViewofPsychology. New GUTHRIE, R. (1976) EventheRat was White:A Historical York: Harper& Row. MBITI, J.(1970) African Religions and Philosophy. GardenCity, NY: AnchorBooks (Doubleday). McCLELLAND, D. (1961) The Achieving Society.New York: Van Nostrand.

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forblack psychology," in R. NOBLES, W. (1980) "African philosophy foundations Jones(ed.) Black Psychology (2nd ed.). New York: Harper& Row. forthe Struggles: Implications Consciousnessand Liberation ---(1978a) African Paradigms. Presentedat Fanon Developmentand Construction of Scientific Port of Spain, Trinidad. Researchand Development Conference, of humaness."Black thesurvival "The black family and its children: ---(1978b) Books Bull. 6, 2: 6-14. ofConsciousness. NewYork:PenguinBooks. ORNSTEIN, R. (1981) The Psychology

Na'im Akbar,ClinicalPsychologist at Florida State University's Department of Psychology and Black Studies,is a recognized expertin the field of Black Psychology. In additionto his university position,he currently servesas the SouthernRegional Representative to the NationalAssociationof Black Psyof Black chologists 'Board of Directors and is AssociateEditorof theJournal Psychology.While serving as theAmericanMuslimMission's Human Develherepresented theMidopmentDirector (1975-1977), theMissionthroughout dle East, the Caribbean,and the UnitedStates. He has publishedthree essay and Human collections, entitled: The Community of Self;NaturalPsychology Transformation; and From Miseducation to Education.

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