Constraints and Possibilities in Creating a Sustainable Inclusive Society in Africa: A Philosophical Re-Imaging of Coetzee's Disgrace
14 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2015
Date Written: July 30, 2015
The question of an inclusive society is at the core of any meaningful imagining of a future for Africa that will recognize, accommodate and harmonize differences. To say this is to focus on how a ‘society for all’ can be created and sustained. This will require a social space that upholds and defends multiplicity of values rendered on the principle of equality and equity. Investigations, however, reveal that the notions of equality and equity are not treated as sacrosanct in most African societies. What societal arrangements favor the incorporation of all categories of interest in the society? To what extent does incorporation translate to active participation in societal affairs? In a knowledge economy, for instance, how do inheritors of Bantu education enter into a truly inclusive arrangement? What does the right to vote effectively translate to when the meaning of the right is mostly excluded through rigging as is the case in most modern African states? How and why does exclusion occur? How does ‘society for all’ become a lived concept for members living at the fringe of society like the poor, the homosexuals and other marginalized groups? How inclusive is the law that stipulates the standard for society? For example, how is the concept of equality between male and female engaged under Sharia law? To what extent does the ‘handicap’ to access the facilities of an inclusive society impede societal progress and fuel social and political insecurity? Is achieving a ‘total’ inclusive society a utopian goal? Is it possible to create an inclusive society where some members prefer exclusion? When, how and why should exclusion be preferred to inclusion?
To answer these questions will require disciplines working together to create a knowledge fusion cell. Philosophy with its insistence on analysis of concepts and critical evaluation of ideas and literature, here represented by Disgrace, with its focus on the individual, the society and how the private and public interact on daily basis provide excellent investigative tools in any attempt to interrogate and understand the multidimensionality of an inclusive society. Also as theoretical disciplines that operate outside stipulated laws and formulae, philosophy and literature can evaluate the past, examine the present and envision the future. As such, they can offer a comprehensive worldview on the constraints hindering the creation of an inclusive society and the possibilities that will enable its emergence and why we need to sustain it.
By situating the constraints and possibilities within a dialectical relationship, the paper teases out both the explicit and implicit elements of the two and their overlaps. The outcome will help in building a framework to support Africa to reinvent its future, redefine its priority direction and renegotiate its place in international relations and in the context of current global transformations.
Keywords: Inclusive society, Africa, Philosophy, Literature
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