Ogbu U. Kalu. Ph.D. History, University of Toronto; M.Div. Princeton Theological Seminary; D.D. McGill University. Formerly, Head, Department of Religion, Dean, Faculty of the Social Sciences, and most recently, Director, Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Abstract of paper given at
Indigenous Traditions and Ecology
The backdrop of the paper is the high level of development failure in West African States, which is a key aspect of the current legitimacy crisis, economic collapse, environmental degradation and abuse of human rights. A paradigm shift in the conception of development urges sensitivity to the full range of cultural and social realities of the communities. These are underpinned by their worldviews. The anatomy of the worldviews is sketched. The questions are raised: 1) To what extent are development failures due to the indigenous worldviews and the coping mechanism which they legitimate? 2) How can the resources of the worldviews be tapped for an inclusive holistic development which is sensitive to the ecology of the region? As J. B. Callicott said, "the revival and deliberate construction of environmental ethics from the raw materials of indigenous, traditional and contemporary cognitive cultures represent an important and essential first step in the future movement of human material cultures toward a more symbiotic relationship, however incomplete and imperfect, with the natural environment."