President Nana Akufo-Addo has eulogized one of Africa’s eminent Philosophers, Emeritus Prof. Kwame Gyekye, saying his advocacy for “African solution to Africa’s problems” need to be upheld.

The thoughts and works of the late philosopher, immersed in African cultural values, resonated well with the aspirations of the people, he noted.

“His legacy serves as a beacon of hope for realizing a much brighter future for Africa,” the President stated while delivering a speech at the first Kwame Gyekye Memorial Lecture, hosted by the University of Ghana, Legon in Accra.

The inaugural lecture was on the theme: “The Forgetfulness of Citizenship”.

It was in memory of the Emeritus Prof who passed on some five years ago.
Born in 1939, he forged a trailblazing path in African philosophy, inspiring and mentoring many scholars on the continent and the African diaspora.

His academic career and teaching stressed the importance of critical examination for a meaningful life.

This was embodied in two of his favourite dicta: “The unexamined life is not worth living”, borrowed from Socrates, and “A return to the past must be guided by critical examination”.
President Nana Akufo-Addo reminded the people that the “Forgetfulness of Citizenship” was a subject that went beyond the realm of politics — encompassing a broad ethical and social dimension.

“It reminds us that citizenship is not just a legal status. It is also a moral ethical imperative that requires us to uphold the principles of justice, equality and solidarity in all our interactions.

“As we reflect on Prof Gyekye’s work, let us rededicate ourselves to the ideals of active citizenship and civic responsibility,” he advised.

The President noted that in an increasingly inter-connected world, with varied global challenges such as climate change, inequality and human rights abuses, there was the need for a collective action and solidarity.

The society should not succumb to narrow self-interest that failed to recognize “our shared humanity and responsibility towards the goal of our people”.

The President entreated the people to draw inspiration from the life and work of Prof Gyekye, who believed in a greater understanding of collective obligations as citizens of the globe.

“Let us strive to create inclusive society where everybody is empowered to participate fully in political process where diversity is celebrated to enhance the dignity and lives of citizens” he advocated.

Justice Emmanuel Yonnii Kulendi, a Supreme Court Judge who chaired the programme lauded the late Prof. Gyekye for his conscious efforts to reminding the people of their cultural heritage.

His beliefs in avoiding individualism while cherishing communitarianism should serve as a guiding principle for a more responsible citizenship.

The society could not avoid its culture and values in the quest for sustainable development and growth, he noted.

Prof Martin Odei Ajei, who delivered the inaugural lecture, said the relative de-emphasis of the concept of citizenship that was enmeshed within a legalistic prism, “constituted a forgetfulness of citizenship — a kind of concealment of the fullness of the meaning, the experience, and the possibilities of citizenship”.

“I examine a few cases of such forgetfulness and conclude by making a case for Prof Gyekye’s moderate communitarian citizen as the theoretical basis of a notion of citizenship that reconciles particularistic and national identities to promote social stability and a shared identification with the common good; he stated.

Emeritus Prof Gyekye’s academic career began when he was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Ghana, Legon.

He rose rapidly through the ranks, becoming a Senior Lecturer in April 1974, Associate Prof in June 1977, and Full Prof in April 1984 at the youthful age of 45 years.

In the spirit of internationalism, Emeritus Prof Gyekye offered his philosophical thoughts to a rich array of audience in North America, Europe and Africa, including the University of Florida, Howard University, Temple University, and University of Pennsylvania.

An avid researcher, his interpretive insights into the African experience remain powerful till date — authoring nine books on philosophy.

Emeritus Prof Gyekye was also a celebrated citizen of the world, and in the course of his life, studied English, Latin, Greek, French, Arabic, Persian (Farsi) and German — earning him the moniker “Man of Seven Languages”.

He was a winner of the Kwame Nkrumah African Genius Award for Philosophy — an award that recognised his immense contribution to the making of African philosophy and its ascendance on the global map.