Scholar, Activist and Thinker
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: African Books Collective
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In many ways, Archie Mafeje was one of the African intellectual pathfinders. He contributed immensely to the African peoples’ search for self-understanding, self-determination and political emancipation as they struggled against alienation and misrepresentation...
Who is Archie Mafeje?
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Archibald Monwabisi Mafeje (or ‘Archie’ as he was fondly referred to) was born in the Eastern Cape, South Africa on 30 March 1936. He died in Pretoria two days before his 71st birthday on 28 March 2007. At the time of his death, Mafeje’s academic...
Mafeje’s ideological and philosophical orientations
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As previously noted, Archie Mafeje was a very independent Pan-Africanist and cosmopolitan individual who sought to understand the world at a global level in order to locate Africa within that tapestry. Kwesi Prah observed that Mafeje’s cosmopolitanism...
The critique of anthropology and alterity
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In examining Mafeje’s contribution to the critique of Anthropology, one must understand his growing sense of identity as an African. One also needs to understand the central concern he had against the particular use of academic disciplines as an external...
The study of rural African society
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Mafeje viewed the issue of rural development as the key to understanding social relations in the countryside and, hence, of developing a basis for understanding the categories and concepts that could be used for analysing the situation. For this and other reasons...
Culture as the ‘missing link’ in African development
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Despite this criticism, Archie Mafeje, like Kwesi Prah, at another level regarded culture as the ‘missing link’ in African development. Culture, argued Mafeje, ‘distinguishes man from brutes’. Culture, he argued, characterises the human species and simultaneously divides it over time...
The issue of ‘social formations’ of African society
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Mafeje provided another picture of African society, which was based on his understanding of the impact of colonial capitalism on African peoples. He argued that ‘anthropologically, one could talk of an African society’ although such a society was no...
Mafeje’s attempts to endogenise and deconstruct knowledge production
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In relation to the above ‘problematic’, which continued to afflict and evade Mafeje’s search for Africanity and endogeneity, let’s explore how Mafeje proposed Africans could get out of the alienation that Western imperialistic ‘othering’ had imposed...
The African post-colonial state and the African elite
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If we interrogated Mafeje further as to how we can endogenise African knowledge production and who would be the agents of such a change, Mafeje would explain that he had a very low opinion of the African postcolonial states and the African petit-bourgeoisie...
Mafeje and African philosophy
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Mafeje approached the issue of African philosophy from a ‘combative’ ontology that Africanity had begun to assume in his analysis of the African situation. Mafeje, like the other African scholars engaged in this discipline, had raised the question that had long been raised...
The Interlacustrine Kingdoms as ‘social formations’
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One of the fundamental reasons why Mafeje agreed with the social anthropologists was that Africa was not a static society but a dynamic one. In the study of the Langa Township, he had observed that the social and economic changes that had been brought...
Mafeje – The South African radical
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We have seen that, in his research in Langa Township and the mission stations in the Transkei, Mafeje had detected a certain class transformation in the South African social landscape. He had observed that ‘Red pagan’ boys at the mission station...
Cosmology, epistemology and academic disciplines
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As we have just seen, Mafeje tried to overcome the limitations of colonial functional Anthropology in order to endogenise knowledge production. Despite his having failed to take up the issue of epistemology seriously, he had still raised the issue of epistemology...
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The author was tasked by the Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) to write a paper to launch a Mafeje Memorial Lecture Series in order to commemorate his academic and intellectual contribution, especially in his struggle to debunk colonial structural functional...
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Page Count: 118
Publication Year: 2011