3 - Sociology of Knowledge in the Era of Academic Dependency in Africa: Issues and Prospects

by Oludele Albert Ajani


In recent years, sociology of knowledge – especially in terms of knowledge production, circulation and consumption – has been dominated by the global North, leaving the Third World, Africa included, in a dependent position. Many scholars have described this continued academic dependence as part of overall colonial and postcolonial relations between the centre and periphery, where the former is seen as the thinker, actor and speaker for the latter. There have been various critical agitations for the indigenisation of (social science) knowledge in order to liberate the Third World from the academic dependence that has been in force since the period of African colonisation. This critical review article summarises major contributions and different dimensions of the academic dependency paradigm within the social sciences. The relevance of social science on the continent of Africa, the nature and origin of academic dependence, as well as key areas that require adequate attention for the emancipation of social science knowledge in Africa are discussed. A reinvention of African scholarship is vitally important for epistemic freedom from intellectual dependence. African countries should not give up their exclusive local practices and norms, and must document and preserve them for the present and future generations. They must generate ideas, terminologies and research technologies that are amenable to African social realities.

Oludele Albert Ajani, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Email: oajani@oauife.edu.ng