Central Struggle for Disenchantment, Development and Modernity


Development can be formulated as a historical process of disenchantment, where pre-modern deities, mythologies, superstitions, spirits… that ‘domesticate’ people are progressively conquered and displaced by modern scientific knowledge, worldviews and mindsets.


This view of development is relevant for a region like Africa which is marked by over-religiosity, alien ‘hereditary’ religions and pre-modern thinking. It is even more relevant since the continuous and vertiginous expansion of the religious space in Africa is totally out of sync with the rest of the world and with the trends of modernization.  This anachronism should be a cause of grave concern.


As an example of this anachronism, while African policymakers debate the need to set up modern STI institutions, there are more than one hundred religious establishments possibly open for one STI outfit in a country like Ethiopia, adding to the 110, 000 churches and possibly as many mosques, compared to a handful of poorly funded, under-equipped and underperforming STI institutions.  The central challenge for Africa’s development is to reverse these trends. Indeed, how can Africans seriously compete with the Koreans, Chinese and Japanese with pre-modern knowledge systems in the 21st century? (think of Somalia!).