Obsessive Knowledge for Sustainable Development and Modernity in Africa


The protracted, complex, largely improvised and uncertain transition to sustainable development and Modernity in Africa cannot be achieved without obsessive and impulsive knowledge. This is necessary for dramatically increasing the contribution of scientific, technological and technical knowledge. Indeed, scientific knowledge is increasingly required for understanding, developing and managing (Little, 2002) terribly complex human-environment systems, such as infinitely intricate African systems, which are embedded in a highly unbalanced, unjust and unsustainable larger global system. And technical and technological knowledge – a technology can be conceptualized as ‘applied knowledge’ or as a ‘materialized knowledge system’ (Millennium Project, 2004) – is required for addressing the acute environment, poverty, hunger, health and unemployment nexus of crises that plague large parts of the continent.


Knowledge is presently revolutionized by the development of a global artificial cerebrality fueled by a growing planetary information and communication system and economic liberalization and globalization. This knowledge revolution (de Ferranti, 2002) can accelerate and sustain the transition to development, which requires more effective, empirical, logical, technical, analytical, humanistic and rational knowledge and less impotent, outdated, occult, hermetical, orthodox, doctrinaire, mythological (Mbiti, 1990), anachronistic and prophetic knowledge. But before all it requires obsessive and passionate (Pfeffer, 2000) knowledge that can excite religious fervor and mobilize energies and effort.