Scientific Language and Thought in an African Indigenous Knowledge System: About Dagara Cultic Institutions and Frames of Thought

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Alexis Bekayne Tengan


The African indigenous knowledge system, like any academic discipline, has its own specific language and jargon as a created symbolic system, which it uses both to see and understand the reality that is the focus of its study and subsequently to document, communicate, and further increase its knowledge content. However, it is generally the case that "scientific colonialism," as Galtung puts it (Galtung 1967), in African indigenous knowledge as a science has led to a distortion of the language and culture used to understand African knowledge generally and, by extension, a distortion of the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of thought. This article takes the view that scholars of African indigenous knowledge and science need to tackle the issue of scientific decolonization in order to generate and understand the scientific lexicon through which this knowledge system has come into existence. This article focuses on the ethnographic description and analysis of cultic institutions among the Dagara of northwest Ghana, within which knowledge paradigms and thought frames are embedded.

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Peer Reviewed
Author Biography

Alexis Bekayne Tengan, Independent Scholar in Anthropology

Alexis Bekayne Tengan is a Ghanaian social and cultural anthropologist residing in Belgium. He studied religious sciences at the University of Ghana and, after some years of teaching in that country, he undertook further studies at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, ending up with a PhD in social and cultural anthropology. Since his doctoral studies, Alexis has continued to teach religious sciences at different levels and to research and write in anthropology as an independent scholar. His research interests and focus include the following: indigenous knowledge and societies, mythology, initiation rituals, religion, and society. He is also a collector of sacred and fetish art.


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