Knowledge Evolutions for an African Modernity


What are the essential knowledge systems upgrades to Modernity? Initially, it requires outlining a vision and content, including the components that may appear particularly difficult and perhaps unpleasant. Change is never a trouble-free straightforward adventure. .


The African STI community could launch a grand project for the renewal or regeneration of the continent through a better exploitation of techno-scientific knowledge. Modern knowledge is crucial for Africa’s destiny because knowledge ‘is the only source of long-run sustainable competitive advantage’ (L. Thurrow).  Given the highly competitive global economy, modern knowledge is vital for the success of scientific and technological actions and for the sovereignty, security and prosperity of the region.


In truth, Modernity is not around the corner.  It is a colossal task to get there. But it can be an extraordinarily mobilizing, enriching, rewarding and exciting journey. Modernity requires encouraging, supporting and advancing hyper-critical thinking, self-examining, questioning and challenging all received knowledge systems.  Indeed, perhaps a difficulty with STI in Africa 'is not in acquiring new knowledge but in escaping old one' (J.M. Keynes).  These views have direct relevance and significance for STI and knowledge policies, which could provide a set of tools and instruments to steer the evolution of knowledge, particularly techno-scientific knowledge, in certain directions for revealing and uncovering Modernity.


There are many encouraging signs of techno-scientific development in many parts of the region. Agricultural knowledge and technology are progressing. ICTs, including mobile, are making remarkable strides. More Africans are trained every year. Etc. Still, after decades of assistance, thousands of development initiatives and more than $500 billions in ODA, many Africans may be as poor and hungry as their grand-parents were years ago.  In this context it may be imperative to try to think differently and to tweak our policies in order to increase their traction and effectiveness.


It may be possible to engineer momentous transformations and ‘quasi-civilizational’ changes through tracing and fostering essential directions or pathways for the long-term evolution of African knowledge systems and for uncovering Modernity. These pathways could include the following seven:


1- Strategizing, Prioritizing, Targeting Knowledge

2- Decolonizing, Africanizing, Re-Centering Knowledge

3- Questioning, Remythologizing, Reconstructing Knowledge

4- Producing, Creating, Generating Knowledge,

5- Modernizing, Scientizing, Rationalizing Knowledge

6- Sharing, Disseminating, Diffusing Knowledge. and

7- Freeing, Emancipating, Liberating Knowledge