Prof Olufemi Taiwo, the author of Against Decolonisation: Taking African Agency Seriously is among the 50 individuals that UK’s ideas magazine – Prospect – considers as the top thinkers in the world today. The list of 50 has been compiled across the world from virtually all realms of endeavour – arts, books, theorising, standpoint politics, technology buffs and what have you.
The citation on Taiwo who is a Cornell University based Philosopher in the United States shows that his recent book is basically what took him to the top list. Calling the book a “bristling new takedown”, Prospect sums up Taiwo as arguing the impossibility of creating “a “pure” African philosophy or artistic tradition, given how entwined both are with western ideas”. Although Taiwo is credited for “rightfully rejecting political imperialism”, he is in favour of Africa embracing the benefits of modernity listed as democracy, a free market and the rule of law. The citation concludes by saying these are values Táíwò considers as universal and not parochial worldviews imposed on Africa by the West.
Both those who endorse the argument of the book as well as those who will disagree with it will be happy with Taiwo’s mention in the list of Prospect magazine’s 50 top thinkers in the world. In 2021, the list contained Chimamanda Adiche of Nigeria and Prof Mahmood Mamdani of Uganda. It is thus not a mediocre list.
Intervention can gloat over Taiwo’s listing because, in an earlier story on his book, we had written that “This thus promises to be an unusual book, not the least because of the interest it is bound to generate within the club of critics of postcolonial theory and decolonial practices across Europe and North America but even so outside of that club, again especially in Europe and North Africa. The reviews so far, featuring leading names in centres of knowledge production on Africa in the UK, US, Canada point to nothing less than that”
Intervention hinged its prediction on Taiwo’s book on its questioning the empowering limits of decolonization theory and decolonial practices for Africa that makes it “an inherently hot intellectual menu. It is more so if it has been written by an African, a Nigerian at that, based at a major metropolitan knowledge production centre as Cornell University in the US where the contestation around decolonization theory is sharper when compared to much of Africa”
Readers of Prospect magazine will be voting to pick the greatest of these 50 brains and who will be published by the magazine next week.