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2010, Emmanuel M. P.

Madonna University Nigeria
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Philosophy and Society series

ISBN: 978 - 078-532-9

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List of contributors------------------------------------------Preface -------------------------------------------------------Introduction --------------------------------------------------CHAPTER ONE
Language and Linguistics in the Philosophy
of Emmanuel Edeh ----------------------------------------CHAPTER TWO
Edeh's Philosophy of Action and Doing ---------------



The Mathematicality of Igbo Metaphysics ------------


The Philosophy of Emmanuel Edeh and Law -------


The Philosophy of Emmanuel Edeh and Politics----


Edeh's Philosophy and Communication---------------


Edeh's Philosophy and Economics---------------------


A Critical Evaluation of Edeh's Philosophy -----------


Summary and Conclusion -----------------------------



Language and Linguistics in the Philosophy of

Emmanuel Edeh
By Fr. Francis Nwakile
Saviourite Theologate House, Emmanuel Community, 1
Eziokwe Street, Trans-Ekulu Enugu, Enugu State.
Edeh's Philosophy of Action and Doing
By Kingsley Oru
Spiritan School of Philosophy Isienu Nsukka, Enugu State.
The Mathematicality Of Igbo Metaphysics
By Fr. Oliver Udaya
Madonna University Chaplainacy Elele Campus, Rivers state.
The Philosophy of Emmanuel Edeh and Law
By Alexander Umenze
Spiritan International School of Theology Attakwu-Enugu,
Enugu State.
The Philosophy of Emmanuel Edeh and Politics
By Martins Uche
Spiritan International School of Theology Attakwu-Enugu,
Enugu State.
Edeh's Philosophy and Communication
By Charles Onuh
Spiritan School of Philosophy Isienu Nsukka, Enugu State.
Edeh's Philosophy and Economics
By Michael Melladu
Savourite House of Formation 1 Savourite Avenue, New
G.R.A. Trans-Ekulu, Enugu, Enugu State.
A Critical Evaluation of Edeh's Philosophy
By Fr. Pius Abuchi
Saviourite Novitiate House KM 31, Enugu-Onitsha Express
way Ugwuoba, Oji River L.G. A Enugu Satte.


African Philosophy has become a kind of intellectual
elephant meat from where various and variegated
academic pieces of meat can be obtained and
devoured. We notice this sterling quality in Igbo
Metaphysics. It is known for its extra-ordinary
versatility. It has connections to law, politics,
linguistics, mathematics, communication, economics
and effective charity. During the Madonna University
International Convention on African philosophy held at
the Elele Campus of the University on 25 November,
2010, many scholars and lovers of African philosophy
gathered to wrack brains and rob minds on the
relations of Igbo Metaphysics to human society. We
thank Almighty God for sustaining us and crowning all
those who in one way or the other contributed to the
success of the convention.
In a very special way we are grateful to Very Rev. Fr.
Prof. Emmanuel M. P. Edeh C. S. Sp., the author of the
work Towards an Igbo Metaphysics, which served as
the rallying point and pot for the intellectual banquet.
Of course the ground-breaking work has remained a
milestone in the history of philosophy in Africa in
particular and in the world in general. Father Founder
we are glad for you and your path breaking efforts in
African philosophy.

Our heart of appreciation also goes out to Rev. Fr. Dr.

Francis O.C. Njoku, Head, Department of Philosophy,
University of Nigeria Nsukka for his presence and
presentation at the International Convention. His
opening presentation bordering on the Metaphysics of
action (which of course will be found in another
volume) was indeed ad rem. Thank you our friend and
In the same vein, we are highly indebted to Prof.
Chukwuemeka Bernard Nze, Dean, Faculty of,
Management and Sciences in Okija Campus of
Madonna University who made it a point of duty to
honour our invitation. Prof., your paper on Life and
Death in the light of Edeh's philosophy was great and
groovy. You really demonstrated to the world that day
that you are a philosopher qua talle.
Dr. Edmund Ugwu Agbo, the general moderator of the
convention is another great scholar who deserves our
gratitude in a most profound manner for his ardent
assistance in piloting the affairs of that programme to
its logical conclusion and completion. We cannot
thank you enough for your immeasurable input and
participation in African affairs and philosophy to the
ends of the earth. We make bold to tell you that we

appreciate your being and actions always and

Certainly we cannot call all the names to the end for
lack of space and time. Nevertheless, we deem it fit to
mention Fr. Pius Abuchi, Fr. Francis Nwakile,
Alexander Umenze, Uche Martins, Melladu Michael,
Oruh Kingsley, and Onuh Charles whose papers
formed this volume. To the rest of the professors
present at the occasion and the speakers on that day
whose papers will be seen in another volume we must
say thanks to you all. May God bless and reward you
all abundantly even as we continue to strive to ensure
that the precepts of African philosophy is put into
practical and effective application in all the societies of
the world.
Professor Lawrence Onukwube,
Vice Chancellor Caritas University Enugu
December, 2010.


By any serious historical calculation one can
understand that various countries and continents of
the world have had various individuals whose
intellectual cum curious contributions shaped and reshaped the human society down through the ages.
For instance, Augustine of Hippo was an intelligent
and intellectual instrument through whom the world
got the glowing solution to the problem raised by
Pelagius those who thought and taught that human
beings can do their daily dealings without the grace of
God. Pelagius was an ascetic who denied the need for
divine aid in performing good works. For him, the only
grace necessary was the declaration of the law;
humans were not wounded by Adam's sin and were
perfectly able to fulfill the law apart from any divine aid.
He was well educated, fluent in both Greek and Latin,
and learned in theology. He spent time as an ascetic,
focusing on practical asceticism, which his teachings
clearly reflect. He was certainly well known in Rome,
both for the harsh asceticism of his public life as well
as the power and persuasiveness of his speech. His
reputation in Rome earned him praise early in his
career even from such pillars of the Church as
Augustine, who referred to him as a "saintly man.


According to Pelagius, human beings do not need the

grace of God on earth since every human being has
the capacity to paddle the canoe of his or her life
outside of God's help. He anchored his teaching on
the theory of law and punishment which postulates
among other things that if the offender is punished
then the offender was capable and could have done it
well. In other words, the person in question could obey
the dictates of the law human or divine. Though it
made waves that time, the Pelagian teaching was
erroneous. It tended to control the world of that period
in history until Augustine came up with the correct and
counter claim of the necessity and indispensability of
the grace of God in human existence. According to
Augustine the human being cannot do anything good
without the grace of God. It is by his grace that we
become what we become and achieve whatever we
achieve in life. In that way the error was corrected and
relevance of God was re-installed in the polity.
In just the same connection when many comments
about philosophy and Africa were flying around and
crying for attention an icon arose from the African
philosophical chessboard to propose a paradigm
which has formed a pathway to real and examined life
which is well worth living. When Edeh came up with his

Igbo Metaphysics some twenty-six years ago, little did

the world know that he stumbled upon a pot of solution
to the many errors ravaging our country, our continent
and our world. From the point of view of God as
Chineke and Osebuluwa, Edeh discovers that God is
the maker and sustainer of the world always and
everywhere. His metaphysics is a theological piece
which of necessity has a practical dimension. It is on
account of the relevance of the work across the globe
that citizens of various countries of the world have
called on him to come over like the Macedonian call
made to Paul, and help them with his ground-breaking
philosophy. During his intellectual tours around the
countries of the world like Germany, Italy, USA, Benin
Republic, and so on, the potential versatility of the
work became even more evident. This realisation led
to the emergence of the department of philosophy in
Madonna University where this world-class
philosophy is digested and given out to the world for
consumption. Here in this collection are a whole lot of
papers arising from thinking and tinkering with the
Igbo Metaphysics. In this volume the focus is on the
impact of the philosophy on the human society. It
touches such aspects of life as Language and
Linguistics, Action and Praxis in the polis, the
Mathematical character of philosophy, Law and


Politics, Communication, Economics, and Concrete

Charity dimension of the Metaphysics. In this
collection various and variegated researches were
made upon Igbo metaphysics as an impetus agitat,
that is, a driving force, for living a meaningful life any
time anywhere. Indisputably, philosophy in Africa is a
marriage between theory and practice. In the light of
African philosophy which was articulated through the
Igbo metaphysics we have discovered that
metaphysics as some rational gymnastics cum
intellectual gerrymandering necessarily demands
action at the end of the day. Therefore any philosophy
that is truly African without any bearing on the African
society remains a mirage or at best a pseudo
Africanus philosophiae which of course is an exercise
in futility. It stands to be noted also that African
philosophy by all ramifications is inseparable from
theology or religion in that it stems from the God-manworld scheme. It is a philosophy that moves from the
visible world of man to the invisible world of God and
then back to the world of human beings for application.
Thus the glaring theories enunciated in the African
intellectual laboratory can and are really put into
concrete use for the upliftment of the humankind.


The Protagorean dictum that man is the measure of
all things has a life-time value epistemologically
whether seen from a relativist view or from the
interpreter's sense. Its relativist view is excelling in
scientific and technological world while its
interpreter's view is blooming in doctrinal or dogmatic
enterprise. Strictly taken, man is the interpreter of
reality; that is, it is in man and through man that reality
as knowable can be known and interpreted. In other
words, all the intellectual struggles and combats to
explain or interpret reality belong totally within the
sphere of human species. To acclaim that this is this
or that is that or that reality as such is this and that
belongs only to the human species to do so. The
above assertion is axiomatic because it is self-evident
even the Bible supports it. Creatures were no things
until man gave them names (cf. Gen 2:19b 20a);
thereby interpreting them by giving names to them
which assigned them their value, or place in the
hierarchy of existence. They are supposed to be no
contentions against the assertion that man is the

measure of all things if we understand measure in

an interpretative sense and man in a generic sense.
Hence the claim that man is the interpreter of reality
still holds water.
As the interpreter of reality, how does man go about
achieving this meaningfully? Possibly, he can do this
through many different ways which can be grouped
under one heading language which Hornby (2006:
829) defines as the use by humans of a system of
sounds and words to communicate. This definition
implies that language whether spoken or written,
verbal or non-verbal, is very important, crucial and
central to human beings because it is the means
through which we communicate. Thus, M. Crimmins
(1998) asserts that language is the vehicle of
communication. As a vehicle, language's flexibility as
a tool for communication depends on the combination
of its smaller units or elements into larger structures;
and this is technically called linguistics which is the
scientific study of language. Linguistics is a broader
umbrella that includes syntax which is a description of
the combination of words to form sentences;
morphology a description of the building of words
from components such as roots and suffixes; and
phonology which is the identification of the sound units

of a language and a description of the aspects of their

combination. These levels of language constitute a
system for associating structures with meaning; and
the study of meaning in language belongs to the
domain of semantics (cf. What is linguistics
a c c e s s e d f r o m h t t p : / / w w w. m m l . c o m
ac.uk/ling/about/what.html on July 13, 2010).
With the above knowledge of what language and
linguistics are, this work attempts explicating them in
the philosophy of Rev. Prof. E.M.P. Edeh, the
articulator of African Philosophy in his monumental
work Towards an Igbo Metaphysics (1985) where
he undertakes a practical and experimental analysis
of what African philosophy is, from Igbo language and
culture. Before dealing with its main aim, this work will
briefly expose the significance of language and
linguistics in philosophical enquiries and the
relationship between epistemology and metaphysics.
The Significance of Language and Linguistics in
Philosophical Enquiries
According to Robin Allot, language is a powerful
instrument used in many different ways, and
constitutes one of the principal forces controlling and
forming human behaviour (Language and Evolution,

retrieved July 13, 2010 from

http://www.percepp.com/philosophy.htm). Besides its
most familiar and normally most discussed use in
communication, its usage in one's private thought, in
science and in oratory, in poetry and in philosophy, is
also very important.
Philosophy as it is known is that department of
knowledge or study which deals with ultimate reality or
with the most general causes and principles of things.
As a system of study, some view it optimistically; some
also view it pessimistically while some view it neutrally
or even indifferently.
Optimists view it as the
mind's insight into what knowing is, or as an
enlightening and satisfying interpretation of the
universe; pessimists regard philosophy as a futile
battle between combatants clad in impenetrable
armour while sceptics contend that the apparent
inconclusive nature of philosophy is a remediable fault
of philosophers who due to their premature systembuilding and impatient ambition, left neither the
inclination nor the time to assemble the facts,
impartially and co-operatively, to build their theories,
cautiously and slowly, on a collective and therefore
secure base (cf. Robin Allot, Language and
Evolution, retrieved July 13, 2010 from

Amidst these categories of what philosophy is, what
then could be the objective of philosophy? Is it to
interpret reality or to be engaged in a futile battle or to
embark on inconclusive enquiries? One is free to take
his or her position. However, this work adapts the view
that the core objective of philosophy is to understand
understanding, that is, to interpret reality. In one's
strife to understand understanding or in the views of
Hegel and Spencer to interpret reality, language,
inevitably, is a necessary tool for as a flexible
instrument, it is dynamic and/or creative in nature, and
thus, able to match the open-endedness of human
experiences, perceptions and actions. This dynamic
and/or creative nature of language makes it a reliable
medium for exploring, recording and developing
man's knowledge of the (physical) world and of his
own nature. Prof. Edeh in his book Towards an Igbo
Metaphysics brings this core role or objective of
language to a limelight by identifying and articulating
African Philosophy from his analysis of Igbo language
and culture.
Through his analysis and interpretation of Igbo
thought content - language and culture, Prof. Edeh
brought to the academic forefront the African

understanding of being (reality) as Ife-di and man as

mmadi (the good that is) the being through which we
can know the Supreme Good itself who is God Chiukwu, the God who is creating (Chi-na-eke), and who
is carrying, caring for, and sustaining the world, (Osebulu-uwa).
His knowledge of Igbo language and culture helped
him to be able to explore Igbo thought content,
abstract and systematize African view of reality
thereby explaining to the world how Africans view and
understand being (reality) through the vehicle of
Igbo language.
The import of Prof. Edeh's articulation of African
Philosophy may not be fully appreciated if one fails to
understand the necessary connection between the
search for knowledge (epistemology) and the
interpretation of reality known also as metaphysics.
Hence this work will attempt to show the relationship
between epistemology and metaphysics before
exploring Edeh's abstraction of African Philosophy
from Igbo thought content.


C.B Nze in Uche Vol.10 (2004:15-21) contends that
Metaphysics in actual fact expresses not a dogmatic
system but is an adventure of a mind in its search for
truth. This affirms Edeh's earlier contention that
'metaphysics is not a doctrine but a manner of
questioning because it is not handing to its readers
any form of belief, rather, it is an articulated form of
questioning (cf. Edeh, 1985:145). Nze also states
that this truth is a fundamental truth for it cannot be
inferred from anything more fundamental because
any direct proof of this truth would necessarily result to
begging the question (for the truth being fundamental
is self-evident and self-explanatory).
Knowledge he also contends, implies an object, an
essence which exists in reality outside the mind, and
exists as the precise kind of objective reality it is. (For
instance), if a strange object is presented to us, there
is automatically in us an implicit conviction that it is an
object distinct from the ones we know already,
objectively, whatever that thing or object is, and it is up
to us to get to learn what it is. Learning what something
objectively is, entails forming an idea in the knowing

subject's mind. The idea so formed must match up

with, correspond to, and truly express mentally what
the object is precisely as it objectively is. The
identification of the idea and its communication to
someone else is through the use of language.
As it is axiomatic that to know implies a knowing
subject, so also it is self-evident that to know is to exist.
This implies that, the presence of a metaphysical
being is a must, an indispensable necessity in the
process of knowing an epistemological process.
Hence, Nze strongly contends that knowledge is
acquired when there is a complete or exhaustive
enumeration by name of the simple components of the
complex. Thus, Prof. Edeh exhaustively in a simplified
form gave African Philosophy which he extracted and
abstracted from Igbo thought content, language and
In the earlier section of this work, an attempt was
made to define language and its scientific study, and
its use in philosophical enquiries. In this section,
attempt also will be made to explicate the place, role
and significance of language and linguistics in Edeh's

J.O. Eneh in Agbo (2010: 45) informs us that Edeh's
in-depth knowledge of Igbo language and culture, his
hermeneutics methods of investigation and
interpretation of Igbo cultural beliefs expressed in Igbo
language led him to undertake his research with Mazi
Ede Oje and Mazi Ede Ani Onovo, the Igbo sages, in
which he meticulously questioned them to unearth the
philosophy in their beliefs regarding the existence of
various beings including the Supreme Being: God,
Chukwu, Chineke or Oseburuwa and His relationship
with other realities.
It will be pertinent to recall that this work had earlier
described language as being flexible and creative in
nature and also as a medium for exploring, recording
and developing of man's knowledge of universals.
Linguistically, semantics, syntax, morphemes (and
others) add up to make language flexible, dynamic
and creative which in turn help language to be able to
explore, record and develop man's knowledge of
himself and his world.
Edeh's knowledge of Igbo linguistics plays itself out
throughout the book. For instance, his knowledge of
Igbo phonology helps him to introduce the reader to

Igbo orthography so that the person can easily

understand and follow his thought pattern in the work.
The application of his knowledge of Igbo phonology
tells of the value of the book. Thus he informs the
reader that Igbo language is a tonal language in which
the stress on syllables of a word, regardless of
whether they are high, intermediate or low, is
determinative of meaning such that many words that
have the same orthography do not have the same
tone. For example:
ziza means answer, reply
while aziza means brush, small broom
muma means prophecy
while mm means lightning
ama means space
while m means witness
and am means measure
and am means distinguishing mark.
g means kindness
While ogo means in-law
(Edeh, 1985: 45-46; cf. pp 167 168)
His knowledge of Igbo morphology also plays a very

vital role in his articulation of Igbo Metaphysics. For

instance, in his analyses of Onye and Ife hypotheses,
Edeh lucidly displays a mastery of his (Igbo)
language. For instance in his attempt to find Igbo
translation for being, he finds out that ife does not
bring out completely all that being means because ife
does not emphasize the important aspect of being,
namely: the fact of existence. Ife on its own can be
used to refer to both existent and nonexistent entities.
There arises the search for a way of using ife to
highlight the fact of existence and exclude the
possibility of non-existence. Hence he avers that:
The solution to the problem is in sight
when we remember that ife can be
affixed to any adjective or to a verb to
mean a specific thing. The Igbo verb
to be in the sense of to exist is idi. Idi
used as an adjective can be suffixed
to anything to show that it exists, for
Okwute-di : the stone that exists
Osisi-di : the tree that exists
Nkita-di : the dog that exists
John-di: John who exists
Chukwu-di : God who exists

In like manner idi can be used with ife

to mean anything at all that is in
existence. A combination of ife and idi
in the modern Igbo orthography
should be written thus: Ife-di. Ife-di is
the most appropriate Igbo rendering
of the English concept of being
because it covers all entities, both
visible and invisible, as well as the
note of existence which we commonly
associate with being (Edeh, 1985:
This novel discovery and translation of being into
vernacular, lays the foundation and opens the search
into the metaphysical ground of African notion of
reality. This same knowledge of Igbo morphology
leads him to the analysis and interpretation of the
three Igbo names for God: Chukwu, Osebuluwa and
From Chi-na-eke, he deduces that the Igbo express
their knowledge of God as God who is creating
which conveys the notion of a here and now present
cause producing an effect unlike the notion which

portrays God as a being who creates a being and is

finished with it. This also establishes that creation is a
continuous activity, and the relationship between God
and his creatures is also a continuum. It is through this
name that the people express their knowledge of God
in the practical experience of life. God is a God who is
present among us, and his presence means life for us
(cf. Edeh, 1985: 127). He also asserts that it is this
'continuous and continuing activity of the creating Chi'
that we interpret philosophically as the metaphysical
presence of God in creatures since his causality,
present in effects, constitutes the very being of the
existence of the beings of experience (Edeh,
His analysis of God as Ose (Olisa)-bu-uwa (Great
God carrying, supporting, and hence providing for, the
world) informs us that as a name for God, Osebuluwa
indicates that the Igbo recognize that God has a plan
for the world and he supports and directs his creatures
to a realization of this plan (Edeh, 1985:130). From
his analysis of Chi-ukwu, as the unlimited fullness of
being, the Supreme Being, he contends that such
expresses knowledge of God as the fullness of life
(Edeh 1985: 133). His earlier analysis of man as mmadi the good that is also gives the Igbo mind the clue to

a general notion of being as good that is because of

having been created by Chineke who is the Supreme
Being that is (p. 144 cf. p. 98).
In the preceding sub-sections, this work had tried to
expose Edeh's mastery of Igbo language and
linguistics which provided a background for the Igbo
way of thought thereby using linguistics as the key to
an understanding of the role of language as a channel
for the metaphysics of the Igbo. This indicates that to
understand understanding or to grasp the meaning of
reality or even to interpret it, a thorough analysis and
interpretation of everyday linguistic usage becomes a
conditio sine qua non. His interpretative analysis of
the thought-content of the language laid the
foundation of understanding reality; hence he accepts
that the analytic interpretation of Igbo language
serves as the tool for his investigation into the
metaphysical thought pattern of the Igbo. His mastery
of Igbo language and linguistics helped him to explore
and extract African metaphysical base.

Allott, R. Language and Evolution, retrieved July 13,
2 0 1 0
f r o m
Crimmins, M. (1998), Language: Philosophy of, in E.
Craig, (ed.),
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. London:
Routledge, retrieved July 12, 2010, from
Edeh, E. M. P. (1985), Towards an Igbo Metaphysics,
Chicago: Loyola University Press.
Eneh, J. O. (2010), Philosophy of Language and
Hermeneutics in the Philosophy of Emmanuel Edeh
in MIIJAP (Madonna ISREPAT International Journal
of African Philosophy and Theology), U. E. Agbo,
(ed.), vol. II, Enugu: Madonna University Press.
Hornby, A. S. (ed.), (2006), Oxford Advanced
Learner's Dictionary, International Student's edition,
7th edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Nze, C. B. (2004), Logic, Epistemology and

Metaphysics: What Relations? in UCHE (Journal of
the Department of Philosophy University of Nigeria,
Nsukka), vol. 10, Enugu: SNAPP Press.
What is Linguistics? Retrieved July 13, 2010 from

This work is a critical exposition of Edeh's philosophy
of action and doing which stems from his claim that
African philosophy is a lived philosophy expressed in
the people's rituals, language and other cultural
manifestation1. According to Edeh, African philosophy
moves from theory to action; it does not end with mere
theoretical speculation which only serves the purpose
of intellectual exercise. Immersing himself in this
African thought pattern, Fr. Edeh developed his
philosophy which is expressed in his total commitment
in bringing relief to the suffering people of the world.
Hence this work, in a nutshell, buttresses the fact that
Edeh's philosophy is a unity of thought and action.
Fr. Edeh is a 21st century thinker who thinks in activity;
he translates his active contemplation into
contemplative action. This is made obvious in that
while other African thinkers were describing African
philosophy, Fr. Edeh went into doing it which is why he
is the first to articulate African philosophy in his master



piece towards an Igbo metaphysics. Fr. Edeh holds

that man is good that is. This implies that man is
ontologically good owing to the fact that he is a
creation of a Supreme Being who is 'Good in se.' Man
therefore is left with a single option of caring and
preserving human life.
He is of the opinion that any system in African
philosophy following African philosophical thought
pattern must follow three stages: first, the theoretical
achievements; second, the practical results; and third,
involvement in the practical response.2 This implies
that any thinker in African philosophical milieu must
translate his theoretical and rational speculation into
practical action that has positive impact in the life of
the people. It must be geared towards the onus of
caring and respecting human life.
The emergence of Edeh's philosophy in Nigeria and
the world at large is ad rem owing to the fact that our
age has been ravaged by the culture of death. This is
an age when crimes against life have been digitalised
to take up any form which human beings design for it.
Gone are the days when life is given its deserved
dignity and respect. What obtains is the killing and
maiming of human life for the selfish purpose of

preserving one's own life. Edeh acknowledges the

fact that life is a 'given'; a gift which is inseparable from
the bearer. Thus he reduces the controversy
surrounding the right to life to the onus of care and
respect. It is this sacredness and goodness of human
life that spurred Fr. Edeh to go beyond mere
presentation of African philosophical thought pattern
to its existential realisation. Thus, in answer to the call
of caring, He adopted the mission of practical and
effective charity with emphasis on the sick, the needy,
suffering, lowly, abandoned, the handicapped and the
helpless youths in our society.
Fr. Edeh came back to the country after his intellectual
sojourn when Nigeria was under the aftermath pain of
civil war. He realized that life has lost its essence in
Nigeria; people are living below the-bread-line. At this
time millions of Nigerian youths are wallowing in
abject poverty as a result of joblessness. Thus, he
sought for a way to make his philosophy practical in
order to touch the lives of the people.
This article therefore has been divided into subheadings to help bring to clarity Edeh's philosophy of
action and doing. The purpose of this intellectual
exercise will be achieved with the elucidation of

Edeh's philosophy of being and its existential

realization as it is expressed in his mission of practical
and effective charity. It will also elucidate on the major
practical examples of Edeh's translation of theoretical
philosophy into philosophy of action and doing.
Edeh's Philosophy of Action Conceived through
Igbo Concept of Being
Edeh's philosophy of action and doing is a concrete
realisation of African philosophy. He holds that African
philosophy articulated in his towards an Igbo
metaphysics is a lived philosophy which must be
expressed in practical terms. In his masterpiece,
towards an Igbo metaphysics, Fr. Edeh delved into the
Igbo concept of Being with much reference to man.
The understanding of being from the point of view of
Igbos is conceived from two perspectives: 'Onye'
hypothesis and 'Ife' hypothesis. The concept of 'onye'
in igbo ontology designates either spiritual being or
human being. In other words, it does not include
inanimate and immaterial entities. In his search for a
more embracing hypothesis, Edeh came up with 'Ife'
hypothesis. 'Ife' primarily means 'thing', material or
immaterial, animate or inanimate. For him, Ife
hypothesis refers to a happening, an event, an

Sequel to the above, it is obvious that Igbo notion of

being as 'ife' is all embracing; It cuts across animate
and material objects to inanimate and immaterial
entities. Igbo notion of being as 'ife' also designates
particulars because when affixed to any adjective or
verb it designates a particular thing. However, it is
important to note that Igbo understanding of being as
ife does not qualify as an adequate translation of what
being is. Ife does not emphasize the possibility of
existence and exclusion of non-existence. To solve
this puzzle, Edeh employed the Igbo verb 'to be' 'idi.'
'Idi' is used as a suffix to show that a thing exists; for
instance, Chukwudi.' God who exists. Thus, the most
comprehensive translation of being in Igbo language
is 'Ife-di' because it covers both the material and the
immaterial entities with the exclusion of non-existents.
Discussing further, Fr. Edeh observed that Igbo
people derive a clearer notion of being from the
awareness of self4. It is obvious that a clearer
understanding of being begins with awareness of
'what is' which can be easily grasped by the
awareness of self. This follows from the fact that a
man cannot deny the awareness of his own self. This
is akin to Descartes 'ego cogito.' One may doubt the
existence of every other thing but he cannot doubt the

fact that he is a doubter thus, a doubting thing. With

this, Fr. Edeh came to the threshold of Igbo notion of
Fr. Edeh conceptualizes man from its Igbo etymology.
The word for man in Igbo language is 'madu' which is a
short form of 'mmadi.' Mmadi' is a combination of two
words: 'mma' meaning good and di which is the Igbo
verb 'to be'. Thus, 'madu' is properly translated as
'good that is'. It follows therefore that the general
concept of good in Igbo ontology stems from the good
discerned from the concept of man. Be that as it may,
the goodness of man should not be understood
outside of creation. It is in creation that man gains his
goodness and that is why he is not good in se. The
justification of the above claim flows from argument
sustained by Edeh that:
For the Igbos the notion of good is
derived from divine creation. To say
that man is the good that is is not
to say that man is good in se, for
no one is good in se except God.
This is made manifest in such Igbo
expressions as so Chukwu di mma
ezie, that is, only God is good in the
true sense.5

By implication, man is the 'good that is'; a being

participating in the good in se. This claim is justified on
the ground that since man is created by God, it follows
that some attributes of God must be inevitable in man.
As a man that thinks in activity, Fr. Edeh did not stop at
theorizing about the participatory goodness of man in
the 'good in se'. He argues that since man is a 'good
that is', participating in the 'good in se', man is obliged
to show maximum care, respect and love to human
life. This is what led to his vision of practical and
effective charity which is an expression of his personal
contribution to the concrete existential realization of
African philosophy. Thus, his life ambition is how to
restore 'the good that is' to its original state which has
been shattered by hunger, poverty, diseases, and
It is overtly apodictic that the application of philosophy
in this manner will entail personal involvement of the
proponent. As the pioneer of this movement, Edeh
divests himself of all the academic glories that
accompanied him from overseas and dwells with the
abjectly poor people of our society, the abandoned
and the troubled youths. He was not a mendicant; He

produced what was enough for him and those living

with him. As time went on, he began to establish
religious organisations and institutions to help
actualise this dream.
Edeh's philosophy is borne out of his active
involvement in presenting to the world African
philosophical thought pattern which is a unity of theory
and action. Thus, with African metaphysics that stems
from African culture, language, socio-religious milieu
and above all, a holistic view of universe Fr. Edeh
arrived at the ideal understanding of human life and its
dignity as it is grounded in the fact that man is
ontologically good because he is created by God who
is 'good in se', and deserve nothing but care and

power is what Igbo call Chukwu (the Supreme Being).

Thus, Chukwu through the mediation of Earth's fertility
brings life into existence which is why Igbos hold in
high esteem the earth goddess. The Igbo equally
come to the knowledge of God's existence through
their religious background and sense of dependence7.
Igbos like other tribes in Africa are notoriously
religious; they virtually do everything religiously. They
believe that they cannot approach the Supreme Being
except through the mediation of lower spirits like
ancestors. It is also in the nature of the Igbo people to
feel insecure when it appears they are on their own.
Thus, they seek security from unseen power which is
believed to be invincible. However, this knowledge of
God from the point of view of Igbos is expressed in
practical terms.

Igbo Notion of God and the Onus of Caring

The existence of God from the point of view of the
Igbos is not debatable or obscure but obvious. They
are not concerned with a systematic and logical proof
of God's existence but how the knowledge of God
comes about. They arrive at the existence of God
through causality. It is believed among Igbos that the
Earth is a mother that cares and derives its fertility
from the supernatural power6. That supernatural

In their manner of viewing things, Igbos are more

practical and pragmatic than speculative. The same is
applied in their conception of God who for them must
be expressed in practical terms. God is known in Igbo
ontology by three names; Chukwu, Chineke, and
Osebuluwa. These three names encapsulate how
Igbos perceive God in the practical sense; and each of
them shows an active Supreme Being who is either
creating or sustaining.



Igbo notion of God as Chineke indicates that God is a

'Chi' that is creating. The Igbo ontology reserves the
duty of creation to 'Chukwu' who is constantly creating
something out of nothing. In this sense therefore, the
Igbos express their notion of God who creates and
continues in the act of creation as long as life must be
in man. The idea of a creating God buttresses the fact
that man is not a finished product. Man thus becomes
a bundle of possibilities that unfold as the action of
Chineke takes effect. Hence, as long as man has life,
God is at work, constantly producing effect in his
creature. Edeh elucidates the above point thus;
When the Igbos speak of Chi as being
reserved to Chineke and found in
creature, they mean that God, the
source of 'ndu' (life) is here and now
producing 'ndu' in creature. The Igbo
concept of 'Chi' therefore indicated the
continued presence of the cause in its
It is important to note that this is in contrast to the belief
of some western philosophical schools of thought that
hold that God created the world but is not able to
control it. In Igbo ontology, God is the creator of the

world and continues to create and sustain it.

Edeh on the other hand following the African
philosophical pattern imbibed the Igbo ontology which
expresses an active Supreme Being who is constantly
creating, nourishing and sustaining his creatures. He
realised the fact that the 'good in se' Himself is in
constant and relentless business of creating and
producing effect in its creature. He maintained that it is
the onus of every creature who is partaking in the
goodness of God to equally partake in the business of
caring and respect which are the responsibility
reserved for creatures. This is why Edeh himself
following the tenets of his philosophy engaged himself
in the active involvement in the response to the need
of mankind.
Edeh's Action and Doing Stemming from Man's
The dignity and essence of man according to Fr. Edeh
as indicated in his Igbo metaphysics stems from the
fact that man is created by God who is 'good in se.'
Hence, man is ontologically good. To fully understand
the dignity and essence of man, one has to come to
terms with Edeh's claim that African philosophy is not
a theoretical and rational speculation but a lived
philosophy of African culture, language and religious

background. As we observed earlier, God in African

philosophy is a God that constantly produces effect in
his creature. God as Chineke is constantly creating
while God as Osebuluwa is sustaining his creature. It
follows therefore that since God cares and sustains
man, he enjoys a high placed dignity.
It could however be argued that Fr. Edeh's philosophy
of action and doing stems from the fact that man is
ontologically good since he is created by God and
because African philosophy is a lived philosophy. He
therefore insists that the dignity and essence of man
must be expressed in practical terms. Thus, man
should be cared for and respected as a way of
appreciating God's handiwork. Man in beholdeness to
God must be deeply involved in man's care and
support for his fellow man so that man can realise his
purpose on earth. Edeh posits that man's dealing with
God must permeate truly from God-man relationship
to man-man relationship.9 Thus he states;
If God as Osebuluwa' cares and
supports man to the realization of his
purpose I must care and support my
fellow man to the realization of his
purpose and this leads to peace in his

heart, peace in the society and to the

modern world10.
As a man that thinks in activity, Edeh assumes that
since man is created by 'good in se' which renders
man 'good that is', it follows that man must be cared for
and uplifted from his present low state that tends to
make him sub-human. African man has seen so much
suffering, pain, anxiety, fear, poverty, hunger, family
discord and many more. In line with the thought of
existentialist philosopher, Edeh maintains that the
basic needs of man must be provided before any other
meaningful progress or before man can think abstract
thought. Pertinent too is the fact that Edeh arrived
Nigeria when millions of her youth are languishing in
poverty and joblessness as a result of the Nigerian
civil war. After his intellectual sojourn outside the
shores of this country, Fr. Edeh adopted the mission of
practical and effective charity which is geared towards
ameliorating the predicaments of the African man.
This is because man in the understanding of Edeh is
ontologically good and deserves happiness in the
heart, respect, care and love11.


Practical and Effective Charity: A Practical

The dialectic play between thought and action
(eptaism) which forms Edeh's pot of thesis is made
manifest in his day to day activities. Eptaism is an
acronym that stands for Edeh's philosophy of thought
and action. He is of the opinion that every
philosophical enterprise must be a unity of thought
and action geared towards caring and respect for
human life.. Despite his exulted social status, He lives
his life for the benefit of others. Through him, God has
established so many non-governmental organisations
whereby the proceeds are used for the well-being of
the poor. One may be disappointed to see the founder
of the first two private universities where he is working
with the labourers under the heat of the sun.
His passionate love for the sick, the abjectly poor and
suffering people of God led him to establish within the
pilgrimage centre, a centre for practical and effective
charity which is the mission he imposed on himself to
better the lot of the poor people and bring aid to
countries that are experiencing natural disasters. He
summarized his mission thus:
Bringing peace to the world through

bringing peace to the individuals, the

sick, the suffering, the abjectly poor
and the miserable youths of the
society. For me, peace is not just
absence of war, rather peace that
lasts in the presence of the factors
and forces that eliminate or even
prevent conflict, minimize tension12
In a bid to extend this good work to the world at large,
Fr. Edeh established the Madonna International
Charity Award. The aim of this Charity Award is to
reach out to those outside the pilgrimage centre and to
honour those who have distinguished themselves in
the act of charity. This charity award has been given to
merited individuals on two occasions. The first of its
kind went to Mrs Mary Maduka, the organiser of
Omeogo Charity Home Makurdi Benue State Nigeria
and Most Rev. Rene Marie Ehouzou, the Catholic
Bishop of Port-Novo, Benin Republic. On 9th of April
2010, this annual event was repeated where cash
award of 60,000 US dollars was given to the victims of
Haiti devastating earthquake. Similarly, 40,000 US
dollars went to suffering children of Vietnam and
Through his mission of practical and effective charity,

Edeh has brought relief, peace, love and care to the

poorest of the poor (umuogbenye), abandoned, lowly,
troubled youths and troubled homes by introducing
them into self-help projects where they can be
gainfully employed. They are trained in the skill of
making various goods like powder, pomade, drinks,
tissue, paint and so on. As a result of this, many
families and youths are comfortably living on their
own; fending for themselves.

He equally established a Centre for Peace and

Reconciliation where over eighteen million cases
have been peacefully settled after much efforts in law
court. Again, through this centre myriads of families in
discord and business partners have been reconciled.
This humble man of God is directly involved in this
effort; he meets with families having such problems,
listens to them with love and passion, and offers
advice and guidelines. He finds joy and fulfilment in
doing this; he tries to be all things to everybody as long
as it will lead to a holistic emancipation. As a man
whose life is guided by the principle of practical
philosophy, He spends not only his time and
resources in helping others but also spends himself in
the process. He is truly a man of charity.

The particular aim of this work has been to show that
Edeh's philosophy of action and doing is centred on
the concrete realisation of African philosophy. His day
to day activities are motivated by his philosophy of
action and doing. Thus far, we have seen that man is
ontologically good and deserves nothing but care and
respect. If Edeh's philosophy of action and doing, and
his concept of man are imbibed, the peace which has
eluded the world for centuries would be realized. We
have to acknowledge the fact that despite the
atrocities in the world, man has an innate goodness in
him which stems from his creator. If adopted, no one
will fill comfortable to pull the trigger on his fellow man.
No one will pay deaf ear to his suffering fellow. I
assume therefore, that Edeh's philosophy which he is
living out will lead man to the promise land of world


1. E.M.P Edeh; Peace to the modern world,
Minuteman Press, United Kingdom. 2007. P.1
2. Ibid p.17
3. E.M.P Edeh; Towards an Igbo Metaphysics, Loyola
university press, Chicago, America, 1985.p. 95
4. Ibid p.100
5. Ibid p.100
6. Ibid P. 116
7. Ibid 118
8. Ibid 127
9. E.M.P Edeh; Igbo metaphysics: the first articulation
of African philosophy of Being, P.44.
10. E.M.P Edeh; Igbo metaphysics: the first
articulation of African philosophy of Being, P.49
11. E.M.P. Edeh; peace to the modern world, p.4
12. E.M.P. Edeh; peace to the modern world, p.6


Every record-breaking and thought-provoking piece
of work such as Igbo Metaphysics usually links up so
many aspects of learning and creates sideways to its
thought pattern. Emmanuel M. P. Edeh's philosophy
as articulated in Igbo Metaphysics has strong
connection among other disciplines to mathematics.
The philosophy goes from the visible (created man) to
the invisible (Creator God), from pure (theoretical) to
applied (practical) exercise and is universally
acceptable on account of its clarity of content and
process. And this is exactly how mathematics
operates at least contemporaneously. Guided by this
realisation this paper makes bold not only just to
declare but as well to painstakingly demonstrate the
mathematicality of Igbo Metaphysics along the lines of
these principles that the duo share in common. The
paper is organised in four sections: section one is a
general introduction to the discussion and
methodological considerations, section two deals with
definition or clarification of key concepts employed in
the course of the work with a view to enhancing the

exposition of the subject matters, section three

handles the relationship between mathematics and
Edeh's Metaphysics and finally, the fourth section is a
resume of the marathon and some concluding
Introduction and Methodological Consideration
When one critically examines Emmanuel M. P. Edeh's
philosophy as contained in his ground-breaking 1985
work, Towards an Igbo Metaphysics, one can observe
some clear connection between it and the world of
Mathematics. On one hand, Mathematics moves from
the known to the unknown and Igbo Metaphysics
operates in that same mode too.1 On the other hand
Mathematics has assumed a practical dimension as a
complement to the ancient pure mathematics and
Igbo Metaphysics too has as its key character a
combination of theory and practice popularly referred
to as EPTAISM (Edeh's Philosophy of Thought and
Action).2 The intended attempt in this paper is to
simply but still squarely size up the Igbo Metaphysics
of Emmanuel M. P. Edeh and determine in the
fundamental manner typical of a critical philosophy
the mathematicality or the mathematicalness of the
primus opus et magnus opus. In order to take

everybody on board the understanding canoe this

write-up begins with the definition of some key
concepts employed in the discussion such as Edeh
(Eptaism), Philosophy, Igbo Metaphysics, and
Mathematics. It shall proceed with an analysis of the
philosophical outlook of Emmanuel Edeh with a view
to finding out the relation between this best of
Philosophy in Africa and the world of Mathematics. We
shall employ both analytical and point-based
approach whereby salient issues will be raised and
critically analysed according to the data available to us
and upon informed speculation on the subject
Clarification of the Key Concepts cum Exposition
2.1 Edeh (Eptaism): Who is Edeh and what is
Edeh refers to Very Rev. Fr. Prof. Emmanuel Matthew
Paul Edeh, CSSp., OFR, Professor of Philosophy of
Education and popularly known as the articulator of
African Philosophy. He was born on 2oth May in the
year 1947 to the family of Papa Joseph and Mama
Elizabeth Omeogo Edeh Ani Onovo at Akpugo in
Nkanu West LGA, Enugu State, Nigeria.3 A great world
eclipse co-happened with or rather heralded his birth

which according to some respectable calculations

was a sign of the young Edeh's own potential
greatness in the contemporary world. Well versed in
the intrigues and the intricacies of the traditional
wisdom and philosophy of the Igbo-African people
and having been trained in the Western system of
education Edeh combined the duo to get one of the
best intellectual works in the history of Philosophy. He
trained in Philosophy at De Paul University Chicago
where he obtained his Doctorate in Philosophy. By
dint of intellectual cum practical demonstration of his
discovery and articulation many came to identify him
as an icon in philosophy hence the emergence of a
new ismEptaism. This Eptaism points to a new way of
doing philosophy which co-mingles in an inseparable
manner theory and practice or thought and action.
Simply put EPTAISM means Edeh's Philosophy of
Thought and Action. We shall see more of this
EPTAISM in the next definitions, expositions and/or
2.2 Philosophy (What is Philosophy?)
The term, philosophy, derives from two Greek words
philos and Sophia. The former refers to Love of while
the latter refers to Wisdom. Taken together the term
philosophy means Love of Wisdom in its

etymological standpoint. Within this Greek parochial

vision of philosophy the exercise was reserved and
restricted to those who have finished their basic duty
of securing shelter, food and clothing for themselves
and their family members. During that ancient Greek
period, philosophy was seen as an exercise in and for
leisure, an exercise embarked upon by the well-to-do
persons in the society. In the Athenian city a few
persons were received into the philosophical
chessboard due to the pure vision of philosophy that
dominated the polity at that period. However,
philosophy just for the sake of philosophy did not last
long in the annals of history. Even the claim
knowledge for the sake of knowledge has some
extension bordering on EPTAISM/Edehism. This is
because knowledge for knowledge sake has an end, a
telos, a terminus ad quem, a role, a satisfaction to be
met and it is from that angle that one can appreciate
the marriage Edeh makes between thought and action
in Africa. Elsewhere in the Western world
philosophers gave the same practical bent to that
exercise formerly reserved for the well-to-dos. In
point of fact existentialism emerged on account of this
clarion call to give a concrete expression to
philosophical gymnastic and gerrymandering. And
that is exactly what philosophy in Africa has become,

playing out the theories in concrete actions for the

benefit of the human race. We observe this trend also
in contemporary mathematics.
2.3 Mathematics (What does mathematics mean?)
Etymologically the word "mathematics" comes from
the Greek (mthma), which means learning,
study, science, and additionally came to have the
narrower and more technical meaning "mathematical
study", even in Classical times. Its adjective is
(mathmatiks), meaning related to
learning or studious, which likewise further came to
mean mathematical. In particular, ?
(mathmatik? tkhn), Latin: ars mathematica, meant
the mathematical art. The apparent plural form in
English, like the French plural form les
mathmatiques (and the less commonly used singular
derivative la mathmatique), goes back to the Latin
neuter plural mathematica (Cicero), based on the
Greek plural (ta mathmatik), used by
Aristotle, and meaning roughly "all things
mathematical"; although it is plausible that English
borrowed only the adjective mathematic(al) and
formed the noun mathematics anew, after the pattern
of physics and metaphysics, which were inherited
from the Greek.4 In English, the noun mathematics

takes singular verb forms. It is often shortened to

maths or, in English-speaking North America, math.
Reasoning based on the above etymological
consideration one can confidently concur that
mathematics is the study of quantity, structure, space,
and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns, and
formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve
the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical
proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince
other mathematicians of their validity. The research
required to solve mathematical problems can take
years or even centuries of sustained inquiry. However,
mathematical proofs are less formal and painstaking
than proofs in mathematical logic. Since the
pioneering work of Giuseppe Peano, David Hilbert,
and others on axiomatic systems in the late 19th
century, it has become customary to view
mathematical research as establishing truth by
rigorous deduction from appropriately chosen axioms
and definitions. When those mathematical structures
are good models of real phenomena, then
mathematical reasoning often provides insight or
Through the use of abstraction and logical reasoning,

mathematics evolved from counting, calculation,

measurement, and the systematic study of the shapes
and motions of physical objects. Practical
mathematics has been a human activity for as far back
as written records exists. Rigorous arguments first
appeared in Greek mathematics, most notably in
Euclid's Elements. Mathematics continued to
develop, for example in China in 300 BC, in India in AD
100, and in the Muslim world in AD 800, until the
Renaissance, when mathematical innovations
interacting with new scientific discoveries led to a
rapid increase in the rate of mathematical discovery
that continues to the present day. The mathematician
Benjamin Peirce called mathematics "the science that
draws necessary conclusions".5 David Hilbert defined
mathematics as follows: We are not speaking here of
arbitrariness in any sense. Mathematics is not like a
game whose tasks are determined by arbitrarily
stipulated rules. Rather, it is a conceptual system
possessing internal necessity that can only be so and
by no means otherwise. Albert Einstein stated that "as
far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are
not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not
refer to reality."
Mathematics is used throughout the world as an

essential tool in many fields, including natural science,

engineering, medicine, and the social sciences.
Applied mathematics, the branch of mathematics
concerned with application of mathematical
knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of
new mathematical discoveries and sometimes leads
to the development of entirely new mathematical
disciplines, such as statistics and game theory.
Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics or
mathematics for its own sake, without having any
application in mind, although practical applications for
what began as pure mathematics are often
2.4 Igbo Metaphysics (What is it?)
In the Western world this field of philosophy called
metaphysics has become the study of the
fundamental nature of all reality - what is it, why is it,
and how are we to understand it. Some only regard
metaphysics as the study of "higher" reality or the
"invisible" nature behind everything, but that isn't
actually true. It is, instead, the study of all of reality,
visible and invisible. Igbo Metaphysics is a
Metaphysics that studies the world of existence from
Igbo-African background. Edeh's Towards an Igbo
Metaphysics presents a striking insight into a true

metaphysics, namely, the African man's God-manworld conceptual scheme or relationship, that is, how
the African understands and interprets this scheme,
what this scheme means to him and how his being, life
and existence are determined by the relationship
involved.6 Igbo Metaphysics maintains that for the
Africans there is a relationship between the unseen
beings and the fact of the origin of the visible realities:
the visible realities have their origin in the unseen
beings, the inhabitants of the invisible world. Thus,
Africans hold unto the existence of two worlds, uwaa
na uwa ozo. This frame of mind opens up the question
of Being and beings whereby the former is arrived at
from the latter. From the African notion of a human
being as mma di, that is, good that is, Igbo people
arrived at the Ultimate Good namely God Almighty, the
source of all goodness. This way of philosophizing in
Africa is characterized by a co-mingling of thought and
action, a practical-theoretical science in the sense that
by nature, African philosophy (metaphysics) is a lived
discipline rather than a purely theoretical venture.
Igbo Metaphysics demonstrates that with the notion of
being drawn from the concept of man, African
Metaphysics is a theological Metaphysics. The mancentred concept of being is at the same time a

religious view of reality with God as the ultimate

source and man as a dependent entity. Hence, African
metaphysics cannot but bring us to African theology
and African religious way of life.7
The Mathematicality of Edeh's Metaphysics
Based on the Relations between Igbo
Metaphysics and Mathematics
The target in this section is to establish the grounds for
the mathematicality of the Igbo Metaphysics. There
may be many relations between the two areas or
subject matters but we shall concentrate on three
grounds namely:
* The relation in terms of theory and practice or
thought and action
* The relation in terms of moving from known variable
or reality to the unknown variable or reality
* The relation in terms of clarity cum universality in
mathematics and metaphysics
3 . 1 M AT H E M AT I C A L I T Y O F E D E H ' S
In the beginning both philosophy and mathematics
operated on the basis of pure science, pure in the

sense of having nothing to do with application or

practice. During the Greek gatherings in the city of
Athens we were usually told that only the well-to-do
citizens were allowed entrance into the philosophical
chessboard. The reason was that philosophy was an
exercise meant for those who have fulfilled their basic
obligations of food, shelter and clothing. To that extent
philosophy was from and was ultimately meant for
leisure. There was no action attached to philosophy in
those Athenian period and context. As time passed
and context changed philosophy came to be
associated with practice or action. Specifically
speaking the existentialist philosophers like Soren
Kiekegaared, Albert Camus, and so on, advocated
reasonable action as part of the entire philosophical
enterprise. The same process obtains in Igbo
Metaphysics where theory is married with practice or
thought with action. Igbo metaphysics is an applied
philosophy. Relatedly, applied mathematics (which
emerged after pure mathematics) concerns itself with
mathematical methods that are typically used in
science, engineering, business, and industry. Thus,
"applied mathematics" is a mathematical science with
specialized knowledge. The term "applied
mathematics" also describes the professional
specialty in which mathematicians work on practical

problems; as a profession focused on practical

problems, applied mathematics focuses on the
formulation and study of mathematical models. In the
past, practical applications have motivated the
development of mathematical theories, which then
became the subject of study in pure mathematics,
where mathematics is developed primarily for its own
sake. Thus, the activity of applied mathematics is
vitally connected with research in pure mathematics.
Whether then or nowadays, mathematicians also
engage in pure mathematics, or mathematics for its
own sake, without having any application in mind,
although practical applications for what began as pure
mathematics are often discovered. De jure de facto,
mathematics is composed of theory and practice as
Igbo metaphysics articulated by Emmanuel M. P.
3.2 The Relationship between Igbo Metaphysics
and Mathematics in terms of Moving from the
Known Variables to the Unknown Variables or
It is in the nature of mathematics to move from the
known to the unknown terms. For instance when you
are given an equation to solve such as: 23x + 67 12 =
7x. For you to solve the problem you have to take the

known (like) terms to one side of the equation and the

unknown terms to the other side before you do your
mathematical operation on the problem. By so doing
one will arrive at the value of the unknown but
knowable variable or term. The same principle or
operation was used in the Igbo Metaphysics. We know
man but God is unknown to us in a sense. Therefore,
man was taken as the starting point of the Igbo
Metaphysics. Edeh started his Ta Meta Ta Physica by
analysing the concept of man in order to arrive at the
notion of Being. According to him, the Igbo word for
man (the human) is madu. Etymologically, madu is a
short form of mmadi (mma-di). Mma is the Igbo word
for good, a good or the good. Di is from idi, which
comes from the Igbo verb to be. In like manner, a
combination of mma and di that is, mma-di, means
good that is.8 From this exposition and analysis of the
known word for man Edeh was able to discover the
rest of existence (formerly invisible and unknown to
3.3 Mathematicality of Igbo Metaphysics in terms
Of Clarity cum Universality
Mathematical principles, prospects and shapes are
mostly universal ones. A circle in Nigeria for instance
remains a circle everywhere you go in the whole

universe. In the same manner, if two and two is equal

to four on the South pole the answer remains the same
when one moves to the North pole. This brand of
universality or universal application can be attributed
to the philosophy of Emmanuel M. P. Edeh. The
principle of human being as mma di can be sustained
anywhere in the universe for no place on earth has
refused to rejoice in the event of the birth of any new
human being. The universal practise in which people
put on a joyful mood at the birth of a new human being
points to the validity of the claim that a human being is
a good that is. Think of the author of the first book of
the Bible who beautifully captured this goodness of
the created human being by saying that when God
looked at all that He created He saw that they were all
good (especially humans). Along this line of
reasoning, Edeh maintains that the source of
goodness is God, the supreme goodness. But the
basis of any creature's being good is the fact of
creation. Therefore, all creatures, insofar as they are
created beings, participate in goodness.9 Hence the
idea of goodness (idi mma or mma di) cannot be
limited to man (in just one place or geographical
location in the universe). Therefore mma di ness of the
madu (human being) as created by God is as
universal as any of the universal mathematical

principles always and everywhere.

Conclusion and Final Remarks
Emmanuel M. P. Edeh's philosophy is a composite
philosophy meaning by that it is an African discipline
which combines theory and practice. It is also a
holistic philosophy whereby people reason from the
level of the visible things in this world unto the level of
the unseen realities in the invisible world. In a similar
vein mathematics traditionally begins with the known
before proceeding to the unknown aspect. Through
the use of abstraction and logical reasoning,
mathematics evolved from counting, calculation,
measurement, and the systematic study of the shapes
and motions of physical objects.10 This relates to
Edeh's conceptual movement from man, a visible
reality, to God, the invisible reality).

what people do or should do in the society. Just as one

cannot divorce the works of mathematicians from the
concrete needs of people in the polity so also one
cannot separate Edeh's Metaphysics from the real
societal needs of the people. This explains why and
how this one single human being, Edeh, has
succeeded in establishing so many religious and other
religious allied institutions where this new-found
philosophy is vigorously taught and vibrantly
practised. It is a living and lived philosophy. This is a
philosophy that naturally appeals to people and
pushes people to action as soon as one learns it. This
philosophy is also very much like mathematics in
terms of clarity, the clarity of this new-found
philosophy makes it easy to be learnt and practised by
the people of all colour, creed and country of the world.

Relatedly, mathematical science in the recent times

has assumed a practical responsibility. Most
mathematical formulas have been tailored to suit one
practical need or the other in the society. Time has
gone when mathematics was done for the sake of
itself. This bears clean semblance to the African
philosophy espoused by Emmanuel M. P. Edeh, a
philosophy where what is in the mind has a bearing to


1 Emmanuel M. P. Edeh's Notion of Being which as
Derived from the Concept of Man in his Towards an
Igbo Metaphysics, Chicago: Loyola University Press,
(1985), p. 97.
2 Edmund Ugwu Agbo, Testimonial Philosophy in
Remy N. Onyewuenyi, A Biography of Emmanuel M.
P. Edeh: Man of Peace, His Life and Works, Vol. 1
Enugu: Madonna University Press, (2010).
3 Remy N. Onyewuenyi, Very Rev. Fr. Prof.
Emmanuel M. P. Edeh: Man of Peace and His Works
Vol. 1 Enugu: Madonna University Press, (2010).
4 The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, Oxford
English Dictionary, sub "mathematics", "mathematic",
6 Cf., Chapter Eight of Very Rev. Fr. Prof. Emmanuel
M. P. Edeh: Man of Peace and His Works, Remy N.
Onyewuenyi, (2010).
7 Emmanuel M. P. Edeh, Igbo Metaphysics: The First
Articulation of African Philosophy of Being, Enugu:
Madonna University Press, (2009), p. 60.
8 Emmanuel M. P. Edeh, Towards an Igbo

Metaphysics, Chicago: Loyola University Press,

(1985), p.100.
9 Op. Cit., p.111
ics, Sourced on July17, 2010.


Philosophy is not an answer to anything Yet it is
disturbing, troubling. Moreover, the trouble it brings will
never disappear, will never have an end. Why?
Because no sooner does a man remember than he
immediately forgets. Therefore, over and over again,
he must be reminded and such reminders are not
always pleasant - Jacob Needleman
The undeniable fact that man is a social being, 'a
being with' underlines the assertion that man must of
necessity live in a community. To this end, many
scholars have advocated and presented arguments
how the society came to be. It is an indubitable fact
that no organized society exists without law, and
equally there is no law without a society, since the
purpose of law is to guide and regulate people's
conducts and actions within the society. In other
words, if people do not come together in mutual
agreement to form a society, there will be no society in
the first instance, and if there is no society then there
can be no law, since law does not exist on its own

alone and for its own sake. Hence the maxims: Ubi
societe ibi jus, ubi jus ibi remedium, ubi remedium ibi
justitia- (where there is a society there is law, where
there is law there is remedy, and where there is
remedy there is justice). It is this justice that informs
the purpose of the society. Thus, this paper attempts
to present Edeh's philosophy and its relation to law,
owing to the fact that law is meant to guide and check
man's excesses.
There is a widely held view that African societies are
communalistic; in other words that the community is
the centre of gravity. This gravitational force largely
pulls individuals to the communal centre. In traditional
Africa, every individual is committed to working for the
interest of his or her community. The individual
belongs to a cultural society which gives him identity.
The communal interest comes first before the
individual's as it is also the community's responsibility
to protect the interest of the individual. In this regard,
the essence of the law is to promote this
communication as well as to protect and preserve life.
This life is nurtured and preserved through constant
interaction, communication and communion. In this
research paper, an attempt will be made on the

philosophy of Emmanuel Edeh which is largely hinged

in the anthropology of man and its relationship to law.
Moreover, a critical and systematic evaluation will be
Background of the study
In the tradition of Western thought up to the 20th
century, the study of man has been regarded as a part
of philosophy. Two sayings that have been adopted as
mottos by those who see themselves as engaged in
philosophical anthropology date from the 5th century
BC. These are: Man is the measure of all things
(Protagoras) and Man know thyself (a saying from
the Delphic oracle, echoed by Heraclitus and
Socrates, among others). Both sayings reflect the
specific orientation of philosophical anthropology as
humanism, which takes man as its starting point and
treats man and the study of man as the centre, or
origin, on which all other disciplines ultimately
Moreover, the systematic study of man as a physical
and moral being. is thus, literally, the systematic study
of man conducted within philosophy or by the
reflective methods characteristic of philosophy; it
might in particular be thought of as being concerned

with questions of the status of man in the universe, of

the purpose or meaning of human life, and, indeed,
with the issues of whether there is any such meaning
and of whether man can be made an object of
systematic study (see, Encyclopdia Britannica
For one to capture and present what is truly an African
way of viewing life and existence, beings and Being,
one has to come to grips with the interplay of thought
and action. For the African philosophy is the way of life
expressed in the people's ritual, language and other
cultural manifestations. This philosophy gives people
the ideal of human existence and specifically an ideal
of human dignity based upon the belief that all beings
created by God are ontologically good and deserving
Statement of Thesis
This research paper seeks to establish a link between
the philosophy of Edeh and law. In view of this,
foreshadow glimpse will be provided in understanding
Edeh's philosophy which is hinged in the Igbo world


Definition of Terms
For the sake of clarity and to avoid unnecessary
ambiguity, some key concepts will be briefly defined in
the context of their usage.
Worldview: this is referred to as people's outlook to
reality. In the words of Amaegwu Joseph (2010: 29),
the worldview of the people gives interpretation to
their rational sentiments and behavioural pattern
Ancestors: these are models for the people in the
society. These are seen as the living dead, because
they were once living in the flesh but now share the life
of the spirits. Thus in this work, the word 'ancestor' will
be seen as concrete imperishable models.
Man: in this research work, the word 'man' will be used
as a generic term to mean both sexes (male and
Plan of the work
This work is divided into four sections. The first part
will focus on the introductory aspect of the work, the
definition of terms and the thesis statement of the
research. The second section will highlight briefly the

Igbo world view, their traditional, cultural as well as

their socio-political systems. The third section will
provide an exposition on Edeh's philosophy and its
relationship with Law. Part Four provides an
evaluation and summary on the subject matter.
The Igbo people
The Igbo people inhabit an area referred to as
Igboland or Ala-Igbo, geographically located in the
South-eastern part of Nigeria, West Africa. The land is
blessed with vibrant communities which are known for
their diverse physical and cultural traits, artistic
creations, religious festivals, and philosophies of life.
However Igboland has four main vegetation belts,
namely: the mangrove forest and fresh water swamps
of the Niger Delta, the rain forest of the central parts,
and the guinea savannah of the northern fringe. (Cf.
Amaegwu.2010:9-10). Igboland is densely populated,
and the 2006 National Census puts the total
population of the people at 16.36 million. However,
these figures are unreliable, as historically censuses
have been highly politicized in Nigeria. Igbo
population within and outside Igboland can be put
conservatively between 20- 25 million. (See,
Ebelebe.2009: xv-xvi).


The people have a history of rich

cultural life, extensive oral history,
and interesting series of belief
systems, philosophies and
theologies. According to Amaegwu
(The Igbo) were sedentary
agriculturalists who engage in
subsistence farming, trading,
crafting. Socially and culturally,
they are diverse consisting of many
sub-groups. They live in villages
that have a few hundred to a few
thousand people comprising
numerous extended families. These
villages have no single ruler/king
who controls the population, yet
they live together peacefully and
going about their businesses.
The above description captures most of what the
people are like, but another Igbo scholar, Professor
Echeruo has a personal description of the people,
thus he says:


Igbo people are the most important

people in the world today. We are a
people who should have
disappeared from the face of the
earth a long time ago from a
multiplicity of vicissitudes but have
miraculously avoided doing so: from
famine when the soils suddenly
failed us; when the slave raiders
carried us away in our thousands,
and we labored and wasted in the oil
delta and in the Americas; or when
only a few years ago, we were
massacred and bombed and shelled
almost out of existence. (Michael
The surrounding peoples around Igboland think of the
Igbo people as highly industrious people who never
back out in the face of a genuine struggle. In sum, the
ancient origin of the Igbo which sheds light on the
Igbo-identity has designated the Igbo as a people of
their own with centuries of cultural development, an
ancient race, a unique people with specific
characteristics, and with a copious supply of

An Overview of the Igbo People (World View)
In the introductory section, we give a bird's eye view
on the intent of this work; in this section, it is important
we provide a background study to the fuller
understanding of Edeh's Philosophy-the Igbo world
view. To understand people's culture, attitudes,
aspirations and expectations you must therefore
understand their world view. This is because the
worldview of the people gives interpretation to their
rational sentiments and behavioural pattern (cf.
Amaegwu, 2010:29)
The Igbo people like the Africans are
very religious people, some scholars
like John S. Mbiti will refer to them as
'notoriously religious;' thereby
establishing the fact that nothing
happens by chance in the African world.
To this end, the principle of causality is
very much pronounced in her world and
almost everything is given a religious
Moreover, to stress the importance of
the Igbo world view, Amaegwu, (2010:
14) states thus
How can one who does not know

African worldview and philosophy

understand African forms of worship?
African worldview and philosophy are in
their class. The question about the
origin of the universe has no place or
something to be given attention
because Africans from birth believe in
the seen universe which stemmed from
the unseen world of the spirits.
From the above, it is somewhat clear that the Igbo
people have a belief in a dual world, the seen and the
unseen. In a bid to concretize this belief, Edeh
(2007:73) states it is clear that the Igbo recognize
the existence of two worlds, the visible and the
invisible. In addition, he went further to buttress his
point by presenting to us the Igbo words for these dual
worlds - Uwaa (seen world) and Ani Muo (land of the
unseen). Moreover, in the course of his research on
the Igbo metaphysics, Edeh (2010:1) avers thus
For the Africans, as typified in Towards
an Igbo Metaphysics (his pioneer work
of African Philosophy), there is a
relationship between the unseen beings
and the fact of the origin of the visible

realities: the visible realities have their

origin in the unseen beings, the
inhabitants of the invisible world. Thus,
the Africans hold onto the existence of
two worlds, Uwaa na Uwa ozo. This is
manifested in the invocations of igo ofo
(Morning Prayer) with a cup of wine by
the traditional African with his family in
the morning.
In the same vein, Amaegwu Joseph (2010:15)
concurs the world of Ndigbo is the same with other
Africans. It is the world full of spirits, the world of
interconnectedness of the living, the dead-the
ancestors-Ndiichie and the unborn. Owing to these
facts, the Igbo people believe that there is a great
connection and interaction between the visible and
the invisible world. This is made possible through the
help of intermediaries like ancestors. According to B.
Abanuka as quoted in Ferdinand C Ezekwonna
The significance of the ancestors is that
they are those who have immortalised
themselves in their extraordinary
deeds, and also, they are concrete

imperishable models who influence the

living. Ancestors are remembered in the
community for their deeds, their past
achievements are pointers to the
people of what can be done in the
present and in the future for the welfare
or progress of the community.
From the foregoing, it is somewhat clear that the Igbo
people upheld their belief in the ancestors who have
positive effects on their lives. More so, the community
also helps to shape this belief because; the ancestors
are believed to be those who live up to the aspirations
of the community.
Social and Political Structure of the Igbo People
The nature of the traditional Igbo political and social
structure varied from place to place, though its
characteristics remain the same. It is important to note
that the basic unit of the Igbo life is the village group
and the most universal institution is the role of the
family head. This is usually the oldest man of the
oldest surviving generation whose role is principally to
settle family disputes; thus as he controls the channel
of communication with the ancestors, he commands
reverence and respect.

Notwithstanding, the Igbo society is patterned on that

of egalitarian society in which almost everyone is
equal. The structure of the system looks thus, but in
practice it does not conform. There are established
ranks and positions of honour, which are marked with
differences in the political organisation. Notably, on
the area of politics, the Igbo people have a system that
is quite different from the western democratic system
of government. According to F. Ezekwonna (2005:25)
the Igbos politically operated under two concepts
called Umunna and Ikwunne [where the mother
comes from]. The Umunna group could be patrilineal
or matrilineal as the case may be. In this respect, the
Umunna system encourages and fosters the
community, wherein the age groups play an important
leadership role. On the other hand, the social structure
is characterized by bloodline, which is also traced by
patrilineal linkage; as such, the family is the center or
the nucleus into which child compound is formed.
Form this angle, it extends to the villages level, clans
and town.
An Exposition of Edeh's Philosophy
(Understanding Edeh's Philosophy)
The controversy over the existence of African

Philosophy has been a pivotal landmark on the quest

of Edeh's contribution to the debate. In this regard,
Edeh's approach was not simply to engage in a
debate on the existence of African Philosophy, but to
show that Africans have a philosophy. According to
Edeh (2007:1) the idea of African Philosophy will ever
remain a figment of the imagination until it is formerly
presented by a people of Africa just as western
philosophy was presented by the Greeks. By
implication, he suggests that, the talk of the existence
of African Philosophy can only be made concrete and
substantial when an attempt is made in presenting the
thoughts of the African people, especially by African
Edeh presents his thesis statement as follows the aim
of this study is to attempt a presentation of African
Philosophy by a people of Africa (the Igbos). My effort
will consist of a presentation of Igbo metaphysical
thought patterns. (Edeh, 2007:1) As such, Edeh
presents to us the Igbo Metaphysics thought patterns
which serves as a 'takeoff base' for subsequent
researches on African Philosophy.
Edeh believes that the starting point of philosophy is
man, because man raises the question that

philosophy engages with and also attempts to proffer

answers to the questions raised. As such, a critical
analysis into the nature of man is paramount in
understanding Edeh's philosophy. In his discourse on
the nature of man, he avers that man is inherently
good. It is noteworthy to state here that the Igbo word
for man is depicted as madu, which is the short form of
mmadi .The word consists of two words mma (good)
and di is from Idi, which means to exist. Thus, it is
rendered as 'the good that is (cf. Edeh, 2007:100)
To this end, man is the embodiment of the good that is,
and this ultimate good is the creator. Man is likened
with his creator since he is created in his image and
likeness (Genesis, 1:27). Notably, Edeh' philosophy
cannot be divorced from his theology, which involves
theory and practice. From the above exposition, if man
is an embodiment of the divine through his likeness
and image; it follows that man should be treated with
utmost respect and reverence.
Edeh's Philosophy of Being
Edeh's philosophy and philosophy in general cannot
be studied in isolation from the human person;
because it is man who philosophizes. For Edeh, the
Igbo derive their notion of being from the concept of

Man and for one to understand this, an exploration of

the concept of being in the Igbo language is necessary
(cf. Edeh, 2007:93)
In the course of presenting the Igbo understanding of
being, Edeh proposes two hypotheses, ife and onye
hypotheses. For him, onye conveys the idea of human
beings but does not include spiritual beings, inanimate
materials, vegetable or non inanimate entities. As
such, the onye hypothesis is not all embracing (cf.
Edeh, 2007: 94). On the other hand, the ife hypothesis
which primarily means things, anything material or
immaterial is also used to refer to happening, an
event, an occurrence; seems to be the only Igbo word
that approximates the Igbo concept of being. Thus
Edeh states I subscribe to this hypothesis for the
following metaphysical reasons: the Igbo notion of
being is all-embracing, that is, it covers all categories
of being (Edeh, 2007:94).
However, there is a problem with this position which
Edeh himself identifies; it is the fact that ife does not
bring out the important aspect of being (that is, the fact
of existence). To solve this problem, Edeh purports
that Ife can be affixed to any adjective or to a verb to
mean a specific thing; but the Igbo verb to be in the

sense of to exist is idi. Thus, used as an adjective it

can be suffixed to anything to show that it exists, as in
The stone that is
The tree that exists
The dog that exists
John who exists
God who exists
From the above, it then means that idi can be used
with ife to mean anything at all that is in existence. In
this way, Edeh somewhat arrived at a logically
appropriate word for the concept of being, which is Ifedi. This word covers all entities, both visible and
invisible, as well as the note of existence which we
commonly associate with being.
Edeh's Philosophy and Law
From the above, one is able to underline the fact that
man is not just the measure of all things; but the
reason why things are. Notwithstanding, this 'good'
nature of man does not negate the possibility of man
erring since he is an imperfect being that lives in the
society where individuals of divergent interests
inhabit. He sometimes makes mistakes and needs
some kind of restrictions to bring him to order. This
guide against man's excesses is the Law.

Law can be defined as a body of official rules and

regulations, generally found in constitutions,
legislation, judicial opinions, and the like, that is used
to govern a society and to control the behaviour of its
members. Notwithstanding, the nature and functions
of law have varied throughout history. In modern
societies, some authorized body, such as a legislature
or a court makes the law. It is backed by the coercive
power of the state, which enforces the law by means of
appropriate penalties or remedies. Some other legal
authorities define law as 'laid down rules that guide
peoples conduct in a state or society, and
disobedience of which attracts sanctions from the
state.' This clearly means that it is already stipulated
rule that one must adhere to. And for any infringement
of these rules, there is a corrective or punitive
This issue of law is not peculiar to any state. It is not
native to races, ethnic groups or nations. In fact it is by
nature universal. However, every society has its
criteria, legal stipulates and a punitive measure for
infringement; that is to say that while law is universal,
its application differs according to the culture and
circumstances of each people.

Arguably, since man finds himself in the society he

needs the law so as to guide and protect his rights and
actions. It is important to state here that this law should
not be seen as a 'chain' or some kind of 'enslavement'
to man; rather it should be taken as man's guide to
perfection. However, the law is meant for man not man
for the law; as such the law should be of benefit to man
and not the contrary.
However, the essence of the law is to promote
communication as well as to protect and preserve life.
Life in this world is lived in conformity with the principle
of communication and therefore it is essentially
Evaluation and Conclusion
From the foregoing, one notices that the philosophy
and theology of Emmanuel Edeh which is typified in
his book 'Towards an Igbo Metaphysics' highlights the
Igbo notion of being; which serves as a framework for
understanding the place of man in creation and the
essence of the law in the society. From the Igbo
notion of being (which is derived from man) as Mma di
the good that is, Edeh arrived at the provenance mma
di, which has its base on the creator.

Moreover, since this underlines the fact that man is

naturally good created by the Almighty; it then follows
that every human person should care for his fellow
man, just as God provides and cares for his creatures.
In this sense, the love that is shown to man by the
creator must be the bane of every activity among men.
Furthermore, the recognition of the good that is in
every man, paves way for man to be charitable to his
fellow men; it also helps to inform peace among
humanity. As such, man is called to recognize the
rights of other men, thereby enabling them to foster
peace and love in the world. Consequently, this peace
cannot be totally achieved without the law to serve as
a constant reminder to man that he has the utmost
obligation to care for his fellow man. In the words of
Edmund Agbo (2010:204) the philosophy of theory
and practice espoused by Edeh pays off here. The
Centre for Reconciliation, Peace and Justice
established by Edeh in the year 1985 at the Pilgrimage
Centre of Eucharistic Adoration and Special Marian
Devotion bears eloquent testimony to this factthe
theories developed in Towards an Igbo Metaphysics
were translated into action in the Peace to the Modern
World. The Peace and Reconciliation unit, expression

of his practical and effective charity were established

as 'a way forward through the concrete living of the
existential dictates of the African Philosophy of Being
Thus, as the law helps man to recognize his true self,
man must of necessity seek to foster peace and
harmony in the society since we are made in the
image of God, who is the source and origin of all

Agbo U. Edmund (2010), Law, Reconciliation and
Peace in the Philosophy and Theology of Emmanuel
Edeh and Philosophy of Ugwu Edmund Agbo in Agbo
Edmund (ed.), Madonna Isrepat International Journal
o f A f r i c a n P h i l o s o p h y a n d
Theology, Vol. II, Enugu: Madonna University Press.
Amaegwu, O. J. (2010), Dialogue with Culture: A New
Method of Evangelization in Igboland
Philippines: Claretian Publications.
Ebelebe, Charles (2009), Africa and the New Face of
Mission, Maryland: University Press of
Echeruo, Michael. (1980), A Matter of Identity Owerri:
The Ahiajoku Lecture.
Edeh, E.M.P. (1985) Towards an Igbo Metaphysics,
2nd reprint, Chicago: Loyola University Press.
Edeh, E.M.P. (2009) Igbo Metaphysics: The First
Articulation of African Philosophy of Being Enugu:
Madonna University Publications.
Edeh, E.M.P. (2010), African Philosophy Typified in



Igbo Metaphysics in Agbo Edmund (ed.), Madonna

Isrepat International Journal of African Philosophy
and Theology, Vol. II, Enugu: Madonna University
Ezekwonna F. C., (2005), African Communitarian
Ethic: The Basis for the Moral Conscience and
Autonomy of the Individual, Bern: European
Academic Publishers. Encyclopdia Britannica.
(2009) Encyclopdia Britannica Student and Home
Philosophical Anthropology, Chicago: Encyclopdia


In the day to day working of the human society, it has
been found that man can be and is best understood in
relation with the differences of opinion and interests
that exist within the society; the issues that arise out of
these differences; and at the ways institutions function
to resolve (or fail to resolve) them -Odinaka Uche
From time immemorial, man has been found to have
evolved, among many other things, the entity known
as 'Society'. This human society has been variously
studied by scholars from different disciplines including
philosophy. However, there is an evident lack of
efficiency and stability in the workings of the human
society. This calls for a reflection on the working of
man's (political) community from the standpoint of
philosophy such as that of Edeh. Edeh's philosophy
as articulated in Towards an Igbo Metaphysics
encapsulates politically rich thought-patterns which
can successfully be integrated into the running of
present-day politics in order to achieve the desired
efficiency in Politics. This paper exposes a possible

integration of Edeh's philosophical principles into

politics so as to make for a better, efficient and healthy
political community.
Philosophic-anthropological approach to the study of
society is not an uncommon imagery. However, such
cannot be said of most African writers in relation to the
traditional study of the human society. One of the few
African writers who have ventured for into this area is
Emmanuel Edeh. The philosophy of Edeh is a whole
gamut, with Politics as one of the parts. To this end, the
political principles embedded therein could serve as a
lee-way, a launching pad to the better appreciation of
present day politics.
If the stability and efficiency expected of present-day
politics are lacking, then there is a serious need for
such a study of politics, as one coming from a
traditional philosophy. Another reason for this study is
that it affords exceptional opportunity to generalize
about Edeh's political culture. This is because there
are many nations in the world with their different and
unique systems of government, but they are not the
same. So much more could be gotten about them
through this study. How is it going to be done?

First of all, we will look at one of the bases for

understanding Edeh's philosophy. That is, at cultural
and social background of Igbo. Secondly, we shall
examine the different aspects of Edeh's philosophy
(that are relevant to our discussion) which are mainly
anthropological and sociological aspects. The next
step is to examine politics and political philosophy in
general. A proper understanding of politics will show
how far the philosophy of Edeh is of relevance to
present-day politics.
Basis for Understanding Edeh's Philosophy
The philosophy of Edeh was well articulated in his
work ''Towards an Igbo Metaphysics''. The work is a
literary piece of a rare kind, which encapsulates many
facets of philosophical discourse. In keeping with the
central concern of this paper, I shall examine few
aspects of the Igbo life and thought.
Igbo Socio-Cultural and Political System
A people's culture is the identity that marks and
distinguishes them from other groups. In Nigeria, a
closer look at the cultural identity of other tribes'
peoples exposes the origin of the people. In the case
of Ndigbo, they are not a difficult tribe to identify, either

in a group or where they do their legitimate business

(Amaegwu.2010:21). Among other things, Ndigbo
could be identified by their language, mode of
dressing, greetings, hard work, love of freedom, selfdetermination, self-reliance, hospitality and
community-oriented spirit of
'be your brother's
keeper', hence the name Onye aghala nwanne ya
(Amaegwu:2010:22). Another identifying mark of Igbo
is the type of name they bear. Names in Igbo are born
out of the situations or circumstances surrounding the
birth of the person who is named. A typical example is
the name Onwubiko (Death I implore you); an Igbo
man immediately understands that the family has
experienced many deaths.
Furthermore Ndigbo live in village-group units of
about a few hundreds to a few thousand people
comprised of numerous extended families. The Igbo
village which is regarded as a small face-to-face
society (Isichei.19:21), is the basic unit of Igbo life.
The members of a village community are traditionally
united by the bonds of a common belonging. Every
member is fully welcome and recognized. Right and
obligations are defined within the community
structure. They (the rights) are inviolable because
they bear the stamp of custom and omenani, and are

sanctioned by the authority of the ancestors

Igbo Political Organization
In spite of the parliamentary system of government
bequeathed to Nigeria, Ndigbo could not abandon
their age-long established republicanism. Their
acephalous and segmental organised society'' still
thrives with no centralized authority (Metuh.1985:3).
For the Igbo, onye obuna bu eze n'obi be ya each
man is a king in his own house. This system of
government is opposed to centralised (hereditary)
aristocracy and kingship customs which are found
among other ethnic groups. This system of
government (i.e. centralized authority), is what they
call Ochichi nchigbu (dictatorship) because it opposes
ochichi onye kwuo uche ya (democracy), which
Ndigbo are known for since time immemorial
(Amaegwu.2010:23). The Igbo system of government
is more unitary than democratic because in
democracy there is room for opposition. But in Igbo
political system, any opposition is not real; rather it is a
matter of principle for the Igbo community is one - not
From the foregoing, one finds a better ground for

understanding and appreciating the philosophy of

Edeh, especially in the light of politics. Now we shall
look at the central tenets of Edeh's philosophy as it
concerns politics. This will be the task of next the
Edeh's Philosophy
The philosophy of Edeh, as has been said, is
articulated in the work Towards an Igbo Metaphysics
and in some other works which were written with the
same trend of thought. As it concerns politics, the two
most important aspects of Edeh's philosophy are his
philosophical anthropology and his phenomenology
of being. These two, however, share many points of
over-lap. To this end, the discussion herein will
consider these two aspects simultaneously. Edeh's
philosophy is first and foremost anthropological,
hence he avers; A child is born, matures and after
living at most a hundred years and some years, and
passes away (Edeh.1985:71).
From this, we see that the centrality of the discussion
is man considered as an ontological being. Man, in the
origin, structure and purpose of the universe is a
rational being. He is a being that exists in relation with
spiritual and non spiritual entities alike. It is this

relationship that defines the human-ness of a

person. Hence Edeh holds that: For a man to be truly
human and successful in life, he must be in constant
relationship with the good spirits. (Edeh.1985:76).
This goes to explain the functional unity of the
physical, utilitarian world with the deified, unchanging
world. Moreover, all anthropological considerations
(as evident in Edeh's philosophy), are life oriented.
They are geared towards the betterment and
sustenance of man's life, whether in this physical
existence or in the hereafter.
Life is not a personal business, which
can be tampered with at will. Life and
existence are not properties that belong
wholly and entirely to individuals. They
belong also to the community of being
formed by dead ancestors, the living,
and over and above all, they belong to
Chineke the author and sustainer of life
and existence (Edeh.1985:57).
As an entity that is at once both spiritual and physical,
there is always an invincible aspect of man, always
and everywhere.
Furthermore, the physical aspect of man is seen to



have purpose. For whatever has no immediate and

specific purpose, has no worth. It is the purpose of
matter; it gives validity to its existence, being (cf.
Edeh.1985:87). In his philosophy of being, Edeh
developed the ife-hypothesis above the onyehypothesis. This notion of being is derived from the
Igbo concept of man (mmadu). An examination of this
notion of man will help towards a better appreciation of
the anthropology operational in Edeh's
phenomenology of being.

so Chukwu? a question which translated literally

means: who is good except God? The Igbo share the
religious idea common to many people that man's
goodness is participated. Man is 'good that is' in the
sense that, having been created by God, he is a
product of his maker and hence shares in the being of
his maker, the highest good. This idea is expressed in
Igbo names like Chiamaka (God is highest good), and
Chibumma (God is the good).

The Igbo notion of being is derived from their concept

of man; a concept that respects both the diversity and
unity of being. The Igbo word for man (the human) is
mmadu. Etymologically, mmadu is a combination of
two words mma and di. While mma is the Igbo word for
good, a good, or the good; di on the other hand is
from idi which in the Igbo parlance is the verb 'to be'.
Thus, a combination of mma and di that is mmadi
means 'good that is'.

Man for the Igbo participates in this Goodness, and

the force of this participation is demonstrated in such
expressions as akwu solu ibe gbaa mmanu, that is, A
palm nut that has no oil of its own gives out oil when it
is treated together with others. This expression
shows that participation is a matter of community
appurtenance, not individual or personal endowment
(cf. Edeh.1985:101). It is this participation of man in
the goodness of his maker and in union with his fellow
men that we refer to as politics.

The Igbo notion of good that is must be understood in

the context of creation. To say that man is the 'good
that is' is not to say that man is good in se, for no one
is 'good in se' except God (Edeh.1985:100). This is
seen in such Igbo expressions as Onye di mma belu

Politics (from Greek , "of, for, or relating to
citizens"), is a process by which groups of people
make collective decisions. The term is generally
applied to the art or science of running governmental



or state affairs. It also refers to behaviour within civil

governments. However, politics can be observed in
other group interactions, including corporate,
academic, and religious institutions. It consists of
"social relations involving authority or power" and
refers to the regulation of public affairs within a
political unit, and to the methods and tactics used to
formulate and apply policy.
The word politics comes from the Greek word
(politika), modelled on Aristotle's "affairs of
the city", the name of his book on governing and
governments, which was rendered in English mid-15
century as Latinized Polettiques. Thus it became
"politics" in Middle English c. 1520s (see the Concise
Oxford Dictionary). The singular politic first attested in
English 1430 and comes from Middle French
politique, in turn from Latin politicus, which is the
latinisation of the Greek (politikos),
meaning amongst others "of, for, or relating to
citizens", "civil", "civic", "belonging to the state", in turn
from (polites), "citizen" and that from
(polis), "city" (Henry George.2011).
The State
The origin of the state is to be found in the

development of the art of warfare. Historically

speaking, there is not the slightest difficulty in proving
that all political communities of the modern type owe
their existence to successful warfare. As a result the
new states are forced to organize on military
principles. The life of the new community is military
allegiance. The military by nature is competitive.

Of the institutions by which the state is ruled, that of

kingship stands foremost until the French Revolution
put an end to the divine right of kings". (In China,
similarly there was the mandate of heaven).
Nevertheless, kingship is perhaps the most
successful institution of politics. However, the first
kings were not institutions but individuals. The earliest
kings were successful militarily. They were men not
only of great military genius but also great
administrators. Kingship becomes an institution
through heredity.

The king rules his kingdom with the aid of his Council;
without it he could not hold his territories. The Council
is the king's master mind. The Council is the germ of
constitutional government. Long before the council
became a bulwark of democracy, it rendered

invaluable aid to the institution of kingship by:

1. Preserving the institution of kingship through
2. Preserving the traditions of the social order.
3. Being able to withstand criticism as an impersonal
4. Being able to manage a greater deal of knowledge
and action than a single individual such as the

A conqueror wages war upon the vanquished for

vengeance or for plunder but an established kingdom
exacts tribute. One of the functions of the Council is to
keep the coffers of the king full. Another is the
satisfaction of military service and the establishment
of lordships by the king to satisfy the task of collecting
taxes and soldiers. (Jenks, Edward: 7396).

For almost a century before the Renaissance, the

political trend in the world was deeply religious, but his
changed with the Renaissance. Below is a brief
consideration of some political philosophers whose
political theories greatly influenced and continues to
influence the present day politics. During the

Renaissance, secular political philosophy began to

emerge after about a century of theological political
thought in Europe. While the middle Ages did see
secular politics in practice under the rule of the Holy
Roman Empire, the academic field was wholly
scholastic and therefore Christian in nature.

Niccol Machiavelli
Machiavelli presents a pragmatic and somewhat
consequentialist view of politics, whereby good and
evil are mere means used to bring about an end, i.e.
the secure and powerful state. Thomas Hobbes, well
known for his theory of the Social Contract, goes on to
expand this view at the start of the 17th century.
Although neither Machiavelli nor Hobbes believed in
the divine right of kings, they both believed in the
inherent selfishness of the individual. It was
necessarily this belief that led them to adopt a strong
central power as the only means of preventing the
disintegration of the social order.

John Locke
John Locke in particular exemplified this new age of
political theory with his work Two Treatises of
Government. In it Locke proposes a state of nature

theory that directly complements his conception of

how political development occurs and how it can be
founded through contractual obligation. Locke stood
to refute a paternally founded political theory in favour
of a natural system based on nature in a particular
given system. The theory of the divine right of kings
became a passing fancy, exposed to the type of
ridicule with which John Locke treated it. Unlike
Machiavelli, Locke would accept Aristotle's dictum
that man seeks to be happy in a state of social
harmony as a social animal. Unlike Aquinas's
preponderant view on the salvation of the soul from
Original Sin, Locke believes man's mind comes into
this world as tabula rasa. For Locke, knowledge is
neither innate nor revealed, nor based on authority but
subject to uncertainty tempered by reason, tolerance
and moderation. According to Locke, an absolute ruler
as proposed by Hobbes is unnecessary, for natural
law is based on reason and equality, seeking peace
and survival for man.

Recognizing the great power of the State, it is only

natural that in times of great crisis such as an
overwhelming calamity the people should invoke
general State aid. Political representation has helped
to shape State administration. When the voice of the

individual can be heard, the danger of arbitrary

interference by the State is greatly reduced. To that
extent is the increase of State activity popular. There
are no hard and fast rules to limit State administration
but it is a fallacy to believe that the State is the nation
and what the State does is necessarily for the good of
the nation. In the first place, even in modern times, the
State and the nation are never identical. Even where
"universal suffrage" prevails, the fact remains that an
extension of State administration means an increased
interference of some by others, limiting freedom of
action. Even if it is admitted that State and nation are
one and the same, it is sometimes difficult to admit that
State administration is necessarily good. Finally, the
modern indiscriminate advocacy of State
administration conceals the fallacy that State officials
must necessarily prove more effective in their action
than private enterprise. Herein lies the basic
d i ff e r e n c e b e t w e e n P u b l i c a n d B u s i n e s s
Administration; the first deals with the public wealth
while the second deals basically in profit but both
require a great deal of education and ethical conduct
to avoid the mishaps inherent in the relationship not
only of business and labour but also the State and the
Administration. (Jenks, Edward: 140150).


Edeh's Philosophy and Politics

The application of Edeh's philosophy to present day
politics is highly feasible. It will go a long way towards
a better appreciation of man in his being. Edeh could
be said to be the bridge between two poles with
Machiavelli and John Locke on opposite ends. Edeh
has no problems in disagreeing with Machiavelli's
assumption that the world is in fact evil, in spite of the
fact that moral behaviour does not necessarily lead us
to the achievement of our desired goals. This is
because political wisdom does not guarantee the
security of man's life, for even the best and the
craftiest political actors fail at some point. In some
situations, and in the context of the community, good
behaviour can be more efficacious than a politically
motivated act. Accordingly, man must form a union
with other men must be designed to safe guard his
existence. (C.f. Edeh.1985:106).
Just like Machiavelli, Edeh has a pragmatic view of
politics, however, he is out rightly pitted against
Machiavelli in his consequentialist view of politics,
whereby good and evil are mere means to an end
irrespective of the inhibition it causes to the
development of man. This is because the fact of man

as good that is, abhors any inhibiting action to the

betterment of man's life.
Edeh's Philosophy and World Politics
The 20th century witnessed the outcome of two world
wars and not only the rise and fall of the Third Reich
but also the rise and fall of communism. The world
wars were borne out of political doctrines that that
super-imposes might over morality, as that preached
by Machiavelli. Edeh's exposition of man as good that
is disallows such movement in any human community.
The production of the Atomic bomb which gave the
United States a more rapid end to its conflict in Japan
in World War II would not have arisen had the world
political actors imbibed the metaphysical
anthropology of Edeh. A philosophy of life such as
Edeh's is the principle that informed the founding of
the United Nations - a forum for peace in a world
threatened by nuclear war. In the long run, all political
mis-actions come back to hunt man who is at the
In itself, politics is never an evil, but men have
bedevilled it through the irrational degrading
consideration of their fellow men, to the end that
politics is hardly divorced from evil, hence, political

corruption. Political corruption is the use of

legislated powers by government officials for
illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power
for other purposes, such as repression of political
opponents and general police brutality, is not
considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts
by private persons or corporations not directly
involved with the government. An illegal act by an
office holder constitutes political corruption only if the
act is directly related to their official duties. Edeh's
philosophy faults political corruption on the fact that
all ill perpetrated, whether legally or illegally, destroys
man, either directly or remotely.

government officials have broad or poorly defined

powers, which make it difficult to distinguish between
legal and illegal actions.

Worldwide, bribery alone is estimated to involve over

1 trillion US dollars annually. A state of unrestrained
political corruption is known as kleptocracy, literally
meaning "rule by thieves". All these will be efficiently
contained if there is a proper integration of Edeh's
philosophy of life.

Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery,

extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and
embezzlement, all of which work against the
enhancement of man's life.

While corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise

such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and
trafficking, it is not restricted to these activities.
The activities that constitute illegal corruption differ
depending on the country or jurisdiction. For instance,
certain political funding practices that are legal in one
place may be illegal in another. In some cases,



By way of summarizing this discourse, one is readily
presented with the socio-cultural and political system
of the Igbo which formed the background towards the
understanding of Edeh's philosophy. Then there is the
presentation of Edeh's philosophical anthropology
and phenomenology of being. With an examination of
politics and some political philosophers, we looked at
a possible integration of Edeh's philosophy into world
politics. The philosophy of Edeh is hinged strongly on
the anthropology which underlies the Igbo name for
man mmadu. According to Edeh, mma (the good)
should be the basis for all human considerations.
Thus considered, man is an end in himself, and as
such, on no account should man be treated as a
means. This is the sum of Edeh's metaphysical

uniqueness of man is not lost in the maze of life.

However, its importance is underscored by the
limitless advantage to the totality of humanity.

In conclusion, one sees that the standard of intracommunal relationship advocated for in Edeh's
philosophy is inevitable in the sustenance of the life of
the political community with man at its centre. The
possibility of its practicability is highly feasible in the
sense that, when the philosophical anthropology of
Emmanuel Edeh is applied to the present day politics
as the circumstances require the political community
will attain its best possible height in terms of stability in
all its spheres; political, social, religious, economic
and cultural development, and above all, universal
peace will be easily attained.

Furthermore, man is not given or thrown to exist in

isolation, but is meant to co-exist among other
creatures of his type in the further enhancement of the
natural environment. This calls to mind the
communalism operational in the traditional Igbo
society. This communalism is such that the


(African corruption 'on the wane', 10 July 2007, BBC

Amaegwu, Joseph (2010), Dialogue with Culture: A
New Method of Evangelization in Igboland. Manila:
Claretian Publications.
Edeh, Emmanuel (1985), Towards an Igbo
Metaphysics. Chicago: Loyola University Press.
Isichei, Elizabeth (1977), A History of the Igbo People.
London: Macmillan Press
Metuh, Ikenga (1985), African Religions in Western
Conceptual Schemes: The Problem of Interpretation
Ibadan: Claverianum Press.
(Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott. "A GreekEnglish Lexicon". Perseus Digital Library.

This paper is an investigation aimed at exposing the
imperativeness of Edeh's philosophy to
communication. Edeh's philosophical thesis sees
man as that being in the universe that is good. His
goodness stems from the fact that he is a being
created by the Supreme Good. The paper, operating
from certain assumptions of Pan-African thought as
contained in Edeh's articulation: Towards an Igbo
Metaphysics, clarifies first, the concept of philosophy
and communication and secondly, makes an
exposition of Edeh's philosophy and how such
philosophy shapes, builds and rebuilds, or if you like
grounds communication.

(Jenks, Edward. A history of politics. pp. 7396. "The
origin of the State, or Political Society, is to be found in
the development of the art of military warfare.").
(Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political philosophy).

The Concept: Philosophy

The understanding of philosophy as love of wisdom
roots to or is derivable from its etymological origin. The
conception of philosophy right from antiquity to the

contemporary era is no doubt, far more than just

etymological framing and meaning. In the
philosophical milieu, philosophy qua philosophy
touches so many things and subsequently means so
many things to so many people. Thus, it would be
difficult if not impossible to find two philosophers who
would define philosophy in exactly the same way. The
Encyclopaedia Britannica explains philosophy as:
The critical examination of the
grounds for fundamental beliefs and
an analysis of the basic concepts
employed in the expression of such
beliefs; an attempt to understand the
universe as a whole; an examination
of humankind's moral responsibilities
and social obligations; an effort to
fathom the divine intentions and the
place of human beings with reference
to them; an effort to ground the
enterprise of natural science; a
rigorous examination of the origin,
extent, and validity of human ideas;
an exploration of the place of will or
consciousness in the universe; an
examination of the values of truth,
goodness, and beauty; and an effort

to codify the rules of human thought

in order to promote rationality and the
extension of clear thinking.1
The above definitions, though touching most aspects
of the concept do not exhaust the meanings that have
been attached to the philosophical enterprise.
However, they give some idea of its extreme
complexity and many facets. Vague, and perhaps
narrow or indefinite as such definitions appear they do
highlight two important facts about philosophy and the
art of philosophizing: philosophy is a reflective or
meditative activity and has no clear designated
subject matter of its own, but is a type of mental
operation that can take any subject matter or type of
experience as its object.

From the foregoing, it is deducible that philosophy has

many divisions such as logic, ethics, epistemology,
metaphysics and what have you. Of all the branches
of philosophy, metaphysics stands out or has a central
place. Metaphysics grounds every other philosophical
inquiry. Consequently, one's philosophy is determined
or influenced by his metaphysical understanding.
Metaphysics could be said to be a critical inquiry into
what exists; a science of reality as against
appearance, a study of the world as a whole and a

theory of first principle.

Whichever way and from whatever perspective one
looks at the concept of philosophy, it is a perennial and
rational reflective activity of man upon every
experience for meaning beyond that which is given in

Edeh's Philosophy
In his classical work, Towards an Igbo Metaphysics
Edeh espoused a theory-practical philosophy that is
based on the perception and interpretation
(worldview) of the world by the Africans. The Africans
(Igbo) perceive the world not as a self-evolving matter
as held by many Westerners, but as creature of Chineke (God the Creator), Chi-ukwu (the Almighty God)
who is the source and support of every existence.

In the view of Edeh, the Africans understand and

interpret life and existence, beings and being from
man who raises the question of being. More so, he
notes that man is a being bound by language and
culture. In this connection he asserts, The two main
avenues to the thought-content of any people are its
language and culture. It is through language and
culture that Igbo metaphysics, or any African

philosophy for that matter, is preserved and

transmitted.2 One can safely say that ontology and
hermeneutics are the grounding or the thought-source
of Edeh's philosophy.

Edeh is of the view that the understanding of the

nature of man should be and is the take off point of any
philosophy (Africa). This is because man is the being
that raises and attempts the question of being. In his
inquiry into the nature of man, he makes a critical
analysis of the word mmadu, Igbo word for man, which
in its original form is written mma di meaning the good
that is. From the notion of man as mma-di, the good
that is, the African arrives at a general understanding
of being as good that is having been created by
Chineke- God the creator, the Supreme Good that is.

Edeh (1985, 100) avers that in man the Igbo is able to

arrive at the notion of the good that is. He puts
forward two fundamental questions leading to that
understanding: first, how are we to understand good
that is? Secondly, how far does this notion respect the
diversity of being? 3 He explains:
The notion of good that is must be
understood in the context of creation. For

the Igbos, the notion of good is derived

from divine creation. To say that man is
the good that is is not to say that man is
good in se, for no one is good in se
except God. This is made manifest in
such Igbo expressions as: (a) So
Chukwu di mma ezie, that is, Only God
is good in the true sense. (b) Onye di
mma belu so Chukwu? a question which
translated literally means: Who is good
but only God? The Igbos share the
religious idea common to many peoples
that man's goodness is participated. Man
is good that is in the sense that, having
been created by God, he is a product of
his maker and hence shares in the being
of his maker, the highest good. Igbo
names such as Chi-amaka and Chi-bumma, are used to express this idea that
God is the highest good. Chi-amaka
means that God is the maximum good.
Chi-bu-mma means that God is the good.

From the participatory notion of man or if you like,

having been created by the Goodness himself, man
cannot but be good. In this right, man the good that

is is an embodiment of, or has the image and

likeness or the nature of that which is its Creator. In
view of this, Edehist metaphysics, understands man
holistically concerning his spiritual inclination, socioeconomic aspirations, and also sees man as a being
with dignity. In that sense, man is by no means a
means to an end, but an end in himself.

No doubt, Edeh's philosophy is methodically

hermeneutics. The word hermeneutics is derived
from single Greek word hermeneue meaning to
translate, interpret, and make intelligible a word,
which connotes interpretation and inquiry into or a
theory of the nature or methods of interpretation.
Reasoning in this line, Eneh, in his article argues:
There is no doubt that hermeneutics as
an aspect of epistemology studies the
principles by which certain kinds of
knowledge as that of Edeh was
obtained. Thus, one can assert that
hermeneutics is an investigation and
interpretation of human culture, human
beliefs, behaviours, speech,
institutions as essentially intentional;
that is, the hidden spirit behind the
expressed Igbo words, traditional

sayings, proverbs, folklores, songs and

stories. 5
Edeh's hermeneutics method of investigation and
interpretation of Igbo language expressed in
proverbs, folktales (verbal word symbols), artefacts
and other cultural values establishes an in depth
meaning of Igbo culture and religious beliefs and
practices; consequently, it opens up the hidden spirit,
the essences that underlie the expressed words of
language and beliefs. In this line of thought, Edeh
(Edeh 1985, 55) opines:
I have introduced the topic of proverbs
and folktales because they are the key
to an understanding of the role of
language as channel for the
metaphysics of the IgbosAs
fossilized expressions, proverbs are
not only the criterion of linguistic
authority in Igbo rural communities,
but are over and above all the verbal
expressions of the metaphysical
content of Igbo thought. They are a
kind of metaphysical channel insofar
as they open the Igbos to an
awareness of being. 6

From his investigation of some Igbo words like,

animuo and uwa a, he demonstrates the Igbo concept
of duality, the existence of two worlds. Uwa a, is the
world of sensibility, while animuo is the invisible world.
The dual theory of Edeh as held by Igbo metaphysics
asserts that whatever exists in a sensible form in this
world does not exist solely . In this way; it has a dual
existence, dual in the sense that the reality of its
existence is a phenomenon in the visible world and a
reality in the invisible world. The theory of duality in
Igbo metaphysics is not limited to human beings; it
applies to all material things. As to primacy, Edeh
In the mind of Igbo, the invisible
element in any material object is
equally as real as the visible aspect of
the same object. If we judge from the
degree of attention paid to the visible
element, it would not be wrong to
conclude that the unseen element is
much more esteemed than the visible.

From the foregoing, Edeh's philosophy (metaphysics)

as articulated or investigated from the Igbo language
and culture is the totality of African's (Igbo) worldview.
It makes sense of their world and life. It determines

behaviour, expectations, and everything that the

Igbos do and believe and know. It informs their
understanding of God, the nature of the universe, the
nature of human existence, their thought pattern, their
religion. It is the grounding of the totality of their
existence. According to Dona Richards Marimba Ani
(1985) as quoted by Venita Kelly in his article, Good
Speech: an interpretive essay investigating an
African philosophy of communication, African
worldview in sum is humanistic, holistic, and spiritual,
seeks harmony, balance, creative expression,
connection to others, respect, reciprocity, intellectual
scrutiny, welcomes expressions of emotion,
emphasizes dignity, seeks dialogue to access truth
and meaning of life and life circumstances. 8
The Concept: Communication
As a communicative animal, it appears man has an
intuitive grasp of what human communication means.
However, a clear definition and description of the
communication process is not easy to develop as
common sense suggests. The word communication
has a plethora of definition; consequently, it has many
nuances of meaning. Today, communication is such a
buzzword that one can use it to mean just about
anything. Since communication wears, somewhat

ambiguous garb, the task of this section is to make

intelligible the concept by answering two questions:
What is communication and what happens when
communication occurs?
Communication is the process of creating or sharing
meaning in both formal and informal conversation,
group interaction, or public speaking through verbal
and nonverbal transaction. According to Daniels and
Spiker, the basic raw material of communication is
verbal and nonverbal information. When two or more
human beings engage in verbal and nonverbal
transaction, they are involved in generating,
perceiving, and interpreting such information. 9 It
involves the sender and the receiver of a message or
information; however, the participants (the sender
and the receiver) must not always be present. In a
wider scope, communication requires not the
presence of the receiver of a message but his or her
awareness, consciousness of the message given.
This is because message qua message (message as
given there) neither depend solely on the senders
intention nor has it a limited audience; it is open to the
world and enjoys the interpretation of an unlimited
audience. In this connection, its interpretation and
meaning is richer than the sender's meaning because

different interpreters bring to bear their personal

experiences and perspectives, which perhaps may be
unknown to even the sender.
Although every human phenomenon perceived within
human environment is potentially informative and
laden with varied meanings, this paper is concerned
with information in the forms of human verbal and
nonverbal behaviour. Verbal behaviour includes
speaking and writing in the code of a language system
or culture. The bulk of vocabularies and grammatical
rules used in expressions in any unique language
culture are the basic features of a language system.
All words (written or unwritten) in a language are
technically called symbols. Symbol in all its forms
has three basic characteristics namely; it is
representational, it is freely created and it is culturally
transmitted. In its representational character, symbol
stands for something other than itself, but in a sense,
shares in that which it represents to the extent that it
cannot be divorced from that which it represents.
Word symbols provide labels for objects, actions, and
experiences; as well, they permit us to talk about and
share conceptions of the things that they label. In this
sense, man's ability to communicate is a function of

The relationship between a symbol and its referent is

arbitrary. This is because the users of a language
bring to birth and death in time and choose the
symbol they use. There is no necessary connection
between a symbol and what it represents. Human
beings are continually inventing new symbols to refer
to new inventions and conditions. In this way, symbol
is said to be freely created by those who use it.
Lastly, symbols are culturally transmitted. This means
that symbols are culturally bound; they are created,
taught, learned and handed on from one generation to
another within a language system. A particular object
or experience may have different symbols as there
are varied language systems in the world. In human
communication, many argue that much of the
information occur in nonverbal behaviour other than
the word symbols of a language. A major problem of
nonverbal communication is that its role in
communication is not as clear as the role of verbal
behaviour. This attracts disagreement among
scholars in communicative studies. For Ekman and
Friesen (1772) nonverbal behaviour is
communicative only when the person who exhibits the
behaviour intends it as a message for someone else.
On the contrary, Watzlawick, Beavin, and Jackson

(1967) maintain that any behaviour, whether

intentional or unintentional, is communicative if
another person perceives and interprets it.
Nonverbal languages that seem important for this
discussion include paralanguage, body movement,
and the use of space. Before explication of the
elements of nonverbal behaviour, it should be noted
that nonverbal behaviour may be symbolic or signalic.
The distinction lies in the fact that while a symbol
represents its referent, a sign indicates a related
event. Symbol participates in the reality it represents,
but sign only serves as a pointer, it stands in relation to
event or object it refers.
Paralanguage consists of nonverbal speech sounds
such as tone, pitch volume, inflection, rhythm and
rate. Sentence structures often indicate the different
between a declarative statement and a question, but
sometimes can be detected only through
paralanguage. As an aspect of nonverbal behaviour,
body movement is of great importance in face-to-face
communication as it suggests emphasis, makes for
understanding and adds meaning to what is
communicated. All body movement is meaningful
within the context in which it occurs. The formal study

of the use of space in nonverbal communication is

called proxemics. The use of space is a subtle but
powerful factor in human social behaviour. There is
often a close relationship between status and territory
in any human society. The allocation of space itself
signifies status, and status gives one control over
initiating, structuring and terminating interaction with
others. The higher up one is in society, the more and
better space he has, the better protected his territory,
and the more power he has to invade the territory of
lower-status personnel. Whether or not the amount of
space in one's territory, the ability to protect it, or the
ability to invade someone else's territory are directly
or indirectly communicative, the fact is that, these
conditions certainly can influence human
communication. In the final analysis, the explication of
the term communication is not limited to shared
Communication Models
There are basically three models through which
communication occur. Communication takes place in
linear, interactional, and transactional models. The
linear model is the simplest. It portrays
communication as one-way process of message flow
from a sender or a source to a receiver. Here, the

message flows from the source, the encoder who

changes or encodes ideas into symbols through a
channel (speech, writing or gesture) to a receiver or
decoder who decodes by assigning meaning to the
symbols. A major difference between linear and
interactional models is that, in interactional there is a
feedback loop from the receiver to the source.
Feedback is a response from the receiver that may
influence the source to modify same or other
messages. It accounts for the dynamic nature of
human communication as it emphasizes a two-way
perspective of communication. In the interactional
model, message flow in a reciprocal exchange; first, it
flows from the source to the receiver and from the
receiver to the source. On the other hand,
transactional model emphasizes the idea of mutuality
and reciprocality in communication. As described by
Wenburg and Wilmot, all persons are engaged in
sending (encoding) and receiving (decoding)
message simultaneously. Each person is constantly
sharing in the encoding and decoding process and
each person is affecting the other.10 In the
transactional view, communication occurs without
sharp distinction between source and receiver roles.
Many believe it serves the most appropriate model for
face-to-face encounters in which communication

occurs through speech and various nonverbal

The Goal of Communication
Man has been described as animal socialis. His
sociability is no less a function of his speech ability.
More so, communication is largely possible because
of man's speech ability. If man is a speech animal, it
follows that it is in his nature to communicate.
Communication (verbal and nonverbal) is the
grounding of human society. Human society is what it
is because of communication. The coming into being
of society and its extant is made possible by
communication. Life would have been unliveable
without communication. According to Asante as
quoted by Venita Kelley in his article, Good Speech:
an interpretive essay investigating an African
philosophy of communication the communication
person is a relationship person, in the sense that
relationships are meaningful, because they bind
society and are also the source of
harmonypermanence resides in the maturity of the
relationship we possess. 11 When men engage in
communication, they, of necessity are tied in
relationship, in closeness, which makes for harmony,
and harmony brings about peace, order and

permanence. One may agree that not all relationships

give rise to harmony, but every harmonious state
amongst people must be born by mutual and peaceful
relationship made possible by communication.
Edeh's Philosophy and Communication
The relationship between Edeh's Philosophy and
Communication can perhaps be better explored and
appreciated by investigating what goes to, or the
constitution of human communication.
Communication, viewed from verbal and nonverbal
behaviour is conventional mode of interaction and
conversation in any human society. As such, it is a
human phenomenon. Man is a being in
communication. The vehicle of communication is a
people's language in form of word symbols (proverbs,
folktales), artefacts, and signs. As a vehicle of
communication, a people's language carries or
conveys nothing but their cultural heritage and beliefs.
In a people's culture and beliefs is their thoughtcontent, their philosophy.
From the above, the correlation of Edeh's philosophy
is apparent. From his in-depth knowledge of Igbo
linguistic codes (word symbols and signs) and with
the application of hermeneutics method, Edeh

articulated the Igbo metaphysics, a philosophy that

has its relevance in its practicability. Edeh's
philosophy is derived from investigation of the
language and culture of Igbo people. Hence, he
asserts, It is through language and culture that Igbo
metaphysics, or any African philosophy for that
matter, is preserved and transmitted. As a
consequence, this study endeavours to extract
elements of metaphysics from these sources and
particularly from certain Igbo religious practices. 12
The correlation of Edeh's philosophy and
communication (language and culture) is not limited
to the fact that it is furnished by communication
(language and culture) but on a closer tie,
communication embodies the thought-content, and
serves as the channel for transmitting the same.
Communication is both the preserver and
transmitter of African philosophy.
In furtherance, Edeh's philosophy, unlike some
Western philosophies, is a philosophy that sees life
and existence as laden with meaning and goal. Man,
as man is the good that is; his goodness stems from
the fact that he is created by the Supreme Good. To
that end, he is a creature that embodies aspect of his
Creator; subsequently, man is a being with dignity.

Admittedly, Edeh's philosophy is not the only

philosophy that views man in this direction, but it
stands tall above all else because going beyond
theory, it is a philosophy that has empirical
application. In its practicability, the goal is to sustain
and elevate man's dignity and eventually his
realization in God his Creator. To this end, Edeh has
through the tenets of his philosophy established
institutions ranging from schools (primary, secondary
and tertiary), Centre for Peace and Reconciliation,
electronic and paper media houses etc for the
sustainability, elevation and realization of man. This is
in agreement with the goal of communication, which
Asante graphically puts thus, the communication
person is a relationship person, in the sense that
relationships are meaningful, because they bind
society and are also the source of
harmonypermanence resides in the maturity of the
relationship we possess. 13 When men engage in
communication, they, of necessity are tied in
relationship, in closeness, which makes for harmony,
and harmony brings about peace, order and
permanence. In his philosophy of language
articulated in his work, Towards an Igbo Metaphysics,
Edeh avers, Social communication and interaction
(among the Igbo) are on a personal level, usually face

to face. In local communities, the spoken word is used

as a means of establishing harmony and friendly
relations between parties. In the sense of integration,
community solidarity and sympathetic relatedness
are thus established, strengthened and fostered.14
From the above links, one may conclude that man is
both the subject and object of Edeh's philosophy and
communication. Man is the being that philosophizes
and communicates; consequently, Edeh's philosophy
and communication understand man as a being with
dignity. Thus, are concerned with fostering harmony
and peace within and among men. There cannot be a
realization of man without man being peaceful and
living in a harmonious and peaceful community.
Edeh's Philosophy as a Communication Tool
From the exposition so far, it is understandable, or one
may argue that any communication system or media
agent that is worthy of it, must be grounded in or adopt
as its philosophical principle Edeh's philosophy. An
examination of some present day communication and
message/values being communicated reveal that
they have no philosophical basis or are based on
inauthentic philosophy. Communication qua
communication should be geared towards the

sustainability, elevation of man as a dignified being;

as well, fostering peace and harmony, a possibility or
condition for man's full realization. Whatever
communication system, message/value that
undermines this principle should not go for, and do not
fall within the ambience of communication.
Edeh's philosophy with its world-man-God scheme is
man centred and is concerned with man's existential
experiences, and at the same time, with his total
realization in God his Creator. It is understandable
that Edeh's philosophy is tied with his theology. Such
philosophy that sees man as the good that is
because he is caused by the Supreme Good, and that
directs every experience of man towards his full
realization in God is a true philosophy; it is neither
deceptive nor utopia. Thus, Edeh's philosophy should
be the grounding of any true communication system.


Man is the only being that philosophizes. His
philosophical enterprise is born out of, or made
possible by his endowment with reason. In his
philosophical enterprise, man is ever in search of
meaning and purpose of life and existence, an
indubitable knowledge. In the same vein, man is the
only being that has a communication system. As such,
we have found that the act of philosophizing and
communication are intrinsic in man and play a
fundamental role in the actualization of man.
However, not all philosophy and communication
systems foster harmony and thus, enhance man's
At no time in man's historic experience has
communication and the world more need of a true
philosophy than now. The world today suffers from a
chronic value crisis. Relying heavily on emotional
principles like freedom and right, the contemporary
world is replete with confusion. Subsequently, many
people do not and cannot distinguish what to and what
not to believe and accept. If philosophy is
fundamentally a critical and reflective search for
indubitable knowledge and principles upon which any
human field of study and phenomenon is to be based,

then the empirical application of Edeh's philosophy to

man's existential experience (thought in action)
serves as its methodical validation and justification. It
is therefore, an indubitable philosophical thesis or
principle that should be the basis or grounding for
communication and every other field of human study
and phenomenon.

Edeh, E.M.P., Towards an Igbo Metaphysics,
Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1985.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. Ultimate Reference
Suite. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2009.
Tom, D. D. & Barry, K. S. Perspectives on
Organizational Communication WM. C. Brown
Publishers: Dubuque, Iowa 1987.
Agbo, U. E. Ed., Madonna Isrepat International
Journal of African Philosophy and Theology, Enugu:
Madonna University Press Ltd, 2010.
Venita, K., Western Journal of Black Studies, The
Spring, 2002. Assessed on the 12th
July, 2011.
Wenberg, J. & Wilmot, W. The Personal
Communication Process. New York: John Wiley &
Sons, 1973.



It was John Kuthman who once said that: in the face of
scarcity, man unveils his animalistic tendency and the
principle of survival of the fittest and elimination of the
unfit looms large when the available resources do not
march with our ever growing population. Against this
background we need economics because we as
individuals and as a society experience scarcity (of
raw materials, of goods and services, of time, and so
on) in relationship to our ever-growing needs and
wants. Economics examines how we make choices
such as: a new car or college tuition? More hospitals
or more highways? More free time or more income
from work? It gives us a way of understanding how to
make best use of the limited natural resources,
machinery, and people's work efforts so as to benefit
all the members of the society.

Experience however has shown that the strong and

powerful ones in the society grab all the limited
resources at the detriment of the weak, and
consequently subject them (the weak) to an inhuman
state of abject poverty. With their freedom weaken and

their human dignity diminished as a result of the

coercive effect of economic hardship; many turn to
crime and extortion as a means of survival and
therefore rob the whole world of the peace it deserves.
This paper therefore aims at exploring how Fr Edeh
through his practical philosophy of thought and action
(Eptaism) has arrived at an economic system that
enthrones the dignity of man over and above profit
making. It is an economic system which insists that we
must recognize in every human being the spark of the
image of God, and grant them the same dignity and
opportunity that are God's gifts to his children. His
philosophy of economy is built on restoration of
personhood and society where both have been
denied the dignity, respect and opportunities that
others have.
The word "philosophy" comes from the Greek word
(philosophia), which literally means "love of
wisdom. There are numerous definitions of this
concept (philosophy) but for the purpose of this paper
we shall define it as the study of general and
fundamental problems, such as those connected with

existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and

language. It is however distinguished from other
ways of addressing such problems by its critical,
generally systematic approach and its reliance on
rational argument. 1
Undoubtedly, philosophy in a more generalized way
can mean one's personal ideology, a guiding principle
in an individual's day to day activities. In this sense, it
can be seen as an influencer, a mover and driver. Fr
Edeh's general Philosophy is therefore seen as that
which propels, which influences and motivates all his
actions; while in a more restricted sense, Philosophy
is a rational inquiry into the meaning of things. In this
sense, we will talk about philosophy espoused by Fr.
On the other hand, the English word "economics"
etymologically can be traced back to the Greek words
oikonomos "one who manages a household" (derived
from oikos "house", and nemo "distribute (especially,
manage)", oikonomia "household management", and
oikonomikos "of a household or family". The first
recorded sense of the word "economy", found in a
work possibly composed in 1440, is "the management

of economic affairs", in this case, of a monastery.

Economics is later recorded in more general senses
including "thrift" and "administration of goods and
services in a particular region for the welfare of the
members". Edeh's economics in this sense means his
own thinking on how goods and services should be
distributed in the community for the benefit of all
members without preference.
The Motivating Factor behind Edeh's Philosophy
A common African adage says if you cannot say I am,
no one will say you are Amongst many other factors
behind the articulation of African Philosophy through
the book entitled Towards An Igbo Metaphysics, the
question of identity and self assertion are to be
considered paramount. Again, just like every other
Philosophical enterprise, this project is born out of
wonder and curiosity on the part of the author.
Having done his studies in philosophy in the course of
his seminary training, and having studied philosophy
in De Paul University, Chicago in the USA from first
degree to masters and PhD specializing in
metaphysics, Professor Edeh is certainly conversant
with most Philosophies that are. He knows about the
European philosophy, American philosophy, Asian

philosophy and Indian philosophy. This then provokes

the question, what about African philosophy? 2

African philosophy cannot be said to have been

borrowed from Europe, America, Asia or India.
Consequently Edeh went on to articulate the African
philosophy just as Plato and Aristotle articulated that
of the West.

Edeh asked a pertinent question; if philosophy aims at

the comprehension of a whole mode or form of life of a
people, then Africa is part of our global society, with
distinct culture, healthy cultural values and meanings,
Since there was no remarkable work done on the
why can't Africa have a philosophy then? This led
subject previously, he embarked on articulating
Edeh into further enquiries and he discovered:
African Philosophy using an analytic and
That Africa is the second largest continent in the
interpretative method. By analysis, he digs out the
hidden metaphysical ground behind the thought
That according to the most recent findings of
content of the language and culture of the Igbos. By
Archaeology and Paleontologists, Africa is the
interpretation, he unearths the deeper meaning of the
most senior of all the continents in terms of
subject under analysis. Consequently, his instrument
sustaining human life.
of investigation becomes spoken Igbo i.e. the Names
That the common ancestor for Man and Ape
Idioms, proverbs, songs and stories, culture and
have existed in Africa for at least
religious practices of the Igbo people. He applies the
twenty Million years ago.
usage of Igbo Language and their Culture, and Socio!
And that the Homo Sapiens (Modern man) by
religious milieu. According to him, this is necessary
Six to seven Thousand years ago were already
because the philosophy of a people can be stated as
settled in Africa doing Agriculture and raising
the understanding principle of the people's way of life
as expressed in their language and culture. He
therefore used the language and culture of the Igbo as
With the help of the above, Professor Edeh
a vehicle to break into their metaphysical thought
established how deep, old and original the African
since their philosophy is only preserved and
philosophy is, as typified in Igbo metaphysics. Hence
transmitted through these channels.


With a mind purged of all presupposition and

controversies of Western Philosophical thought, he
sets out to articulate the original metaphysics of the
Africans; he begins this with the origin, structure and
purpose of the Universe. According to him, the Igbo
proverb, Ife welu mbido g'enwe njedebe (whatever
has a beginning must have an end) is an expression
the people arrived at after a very long time of
observing things as they come to-be and then after
sometime cease to-be. This same principle of coming
to-be and ceasing to-be governs both the human,
animal and plant kingdoms. For this, the Igbo
(Africans) trace the origin of visible things to the
invisible world which is responsible for both coming tobe and ceasing to be of material things.4 From this
analysis, Edeh arrives at the Igbo (African) conception
of two worlds as typified in Igo ofo (Igbo's Morning
The central theme in Edeh's metaphysics is the Igbo
(African) understanding of being. Approaching this
from the Igbo language, he proposes two hypotheses;
Ife and Onye hypotheses. According to him Onye
conveys the idea of human beings but does not
include spiritual beings, inanimate materials,
vegetable or non inanimate entities. Consequently, he

disqualifies this (Onye) from standing for the term

being. Ife on the other hand, stands for both material
and immaterial. He agrees that Ife is the suitable word
for being in Igbo. However, another problem arises,
that is the fact that ife does not bring out the important
aspect of being, that is, the fact of existence. It does
not cover both existent and non-existent entities. To
solve this problem, Edeh opines that Ife can be affixed
to any adjective or to a verb to mean a specific thing.
According to him the Igbo verb to be is Idi. Used as
an adjective, it can be suffixed to anything to show that
it exists as in:
Okwute -di the stone that is
Osisi -di the tree that is
Chukwu di God who is.
Idi therefore when used with Ife means anything at all
that is in existence. In this way, he logically arrives at
the most appropriate Igbo word for the concept of
being. This (Ife di) covers all categories of entities
namely visible and invisible. He therefore typifies the
African philosophy through the articulation of Igbo
metaphysics; he clearly presents the African Man's
God man world conceptual scheme or relationship.


The Centre of Edeh's Philosophy

African philosophy as articulated by Edeh in Igbo
metaphysics is very distinctive in the sense that its
notion of being is drawn from the Igbo concept of man
as madu (etymologically MMADI) (the good that is).
With this notion of man as the good that is because of
his participation in the being of his creator, man is
dignified. The Igbo concept of God as Chineke
presents God's creative activity in a continuous
manner such that he is always at work in his creatures.
Again Osebuluwa gives the notion of a God who did
not abandon his creatures after creation but carries all
of them along and helps each to actualize the purpose
of their creation. African philosophy as articulated by
offers a big challenge to the Western
rationalists like Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche , Satre
etc, who presented man as the absolute, self
sufficient, self invented and completely banished God
from the world. In contrast to the above, Edeh
presents the Supreme Being, as Chineke, the one
who creates and remains present in his creatures, and
as Osebuluwa, one who cares and supports all beings
to realize their purpose. The logical consequence
here is that God did not create the world and abandon
it but carries it along. That God cares and supports
man to realize his purpose and as such man must in

the same way concretize this in the support of his

fellow man. This makes African philosophy a practical
and lived philosophy as opposed to the speculative
philosophy of the West
The Origin of Edeh's Philosophy of Economics
Pope John Paul II (of Blessed Memory) in his
message for the World Day of Peace (January 1985)
drew attention to the negative repercussion for peace
when majority of the population live in poverty. He
said: poverty is often a contributory factor or a
compounding element in conflict, including armed
ones. The logical implication here is that if ever one
can talk of sustainable peace in any society then the
incidence of poverty which insults the innate dignity of
the human person and reduces millions of people to a
life of untold hardship and underserved misery must
be addressed.
By his nature as a man of peace, who do not only
practice peace but equally makes others see the need
to do the same, Edeh responded practically to this
Papal invitation for reduction of the excessive gap
between the rich and the poor as a way of reducing
violence, restoring human dignity and
bringing peace to the human heart.

The Preparatory Ground for Edeh's Philosophy

of Economics: Nigerian Economy at that Time
In terms of natural resources, Nigeria was one of the
richest 50 countries in the early 1970s. But goodness
in this country has a cylinder body that broke so soon.
Consequently, its economy retrogressed. At the
threshold of the 21st century it has become one of the
25 poorest countries in the world. It is a paradox that
Nigeria is the sixth largest exporter of crude oil and at
the same time hosts the third largest number of poor
people. Statistics show that the incidence of extreme
poverty using the rate of US $1 per day increased from
28.1 percent in 1980 to 69.2% in 1997. The 2004
report by the National Planning Commission indicates
that poverty in Nigeria is in the midst of plenty. Reliable
sources also disclose that the economic performance
in the area of employment creation is dismal. Youth's
unemployment is at 60% University graduates
constituting 25% of total unemployment and with the
formal sector only generating 7% of employment for
all those in the labour force. This state of affairs
compelled many to live far below average with the
youths receiving the bigger brunt of it. Seen
themselves in this miserable condition, they (our
youths) employ the principle of surviving at all cost
and as such turn our cosmos to a chaos. It is against

this background that Edeh planted his philosophy of

Relatedly, the Nigerian Civil War left many people
broken and shattered economically. The hue of cries
against economic hardship and deterioration in the
country at that time was quite alarming. It was in such
a conflicting and devastating scenario that Edeh came
in to re-echo the injunction of Leviticus 25 which
proclaims the year of jubilee as a period of economic
redistribution in which slaves were set free, lands
returned to their owners and debts forgiven.
He introduced a philosophy of economy that calls for a
regular leveling of things because of the human
tendency towards over-accumulation at the detriment
of others. This type of philosophy insists that all
human economic arrangements be subjected to
God's justice, that great gaps be narrowed or totally
eliminated and that the poor are not perpetually and
consistently left at the margins.
Edeh knew that concrete actions were necessary. But
before he went into action, he embarked on a critical
study of the Nigerian economy and discovered the
militating factors that held it in hostage. Among the

militating factors is poverty.

Poverty was deeply embedded in the psyche of
individuals or even the whole community. It is a
poverty that springs from being undervalued
persistently. It is a sense that the community one is
part of is worthless or that one is worthless. It springs
from bad parenting and poor mentoring. This is a very
deadly and contagious disease because it holds the
victim in a vice of self-doubt and degradation. It is the
kind of disease that was imposed on us from outside.

overwhelmed the African continent as a result of high

level of illiteracy and ignorance. From the assessment
of the international community, the few tertiary
institutions we had around the continent especially in
Nigeria did not worth going under the banner. To
handle this poverty of identity, Edeh moved in first of
all to prove that Africans can like any western country
establish and run a private university and not just that
but one free from all the mayhem militating against our
educational sector (cultism, consistent strikes,
student' unrest, exam malpractice ranging from
buying of grade with sex and or money). 5


Just as he proved wrong the age-long western
mentality that Africa has no philosophy by articulating
the African philosophy through the articulation of Igbo
metaphysics, Edeh moved in to bring to an end
poverty of identity.

Edeh eventually conquered the poverty of identity by

establishing four private tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
These are:
(1) Madonna University
(2) Caritas University
(3) OSISATECH Polytechnic and
(4) OSISATECH College of Education

It has to be noted that over the centuries, Africa was

termed a dark continent by the west. A continent
characterized by war, underdevelopment, sickness,
and hunger amongst others. From every stretch of
imagination, the aforementioned calamities

Through these institutions, many Nigerians and even

foreign Nationals are called off the labour market. It's
worth mentioning here that through his banishment of
poverty of identity, Nigeria can now boast of over one
hundred private universities which would never have



existed should the country have remained in her

identity poverty where such ideas (establishing of a
private university) was considered Western and
therefore too sophisticated for the country.
Civil Poverty
Yet another factor that militated against our economy
and that of other less developed countries was Civic
Poverty. This type of poverty does not offer
opportunity for the poor to enjoy the necessary human
rights and as such has a role to play in their own
community and society. It is in other words known as
disempowerment of the poor and therefore placing
them in a permanent inhuman condition for the
economic gratification of the rich. This has to do with a
situation where a poor man labours for a rich man all
through his life and when he is old and worn out, his
children come in to continue from where their parents
stopped because these people are paid with peanut
and as such cannot save for the future of their
children. Consequently, such children are deprived of
their civic right to education and other necessities of


How He Tackled Civic Poverty

This kind of poverty as aforementioned has to do with
depriving individuals of their basic Civic rights and by
so doing hinder their roles in the life of the society they
belong to. To address this civic poverty, Professor
Edeh recognized the fact that it is not possible to
ignore the connection between personal responsibility
for poverty and societal responsibility. According to
him, we cannot eradicate poverty by working with
individuals alone nor can it be eliminated by working
only on the society. He insists that we must recognize
in every human being the spark of the image of God,
and grant them the same dignity and opportunity that
are God's gifts to his children. His philosophy of
economy is built on restoration of personhood and
society where both have been denied the dignity,
respect and opportunities that others have.
The Tenets of Edeh's Economics
This philosophy is not just aimed at eliminating hunger
or even reducing poverty; it is not merely a struggle
against destitution and hardship. It is rather a question
of building a society where everyone, no matter his
creed or tribe, can live a dignified human life, freed
from the servitude imposed on him by others or by
natural forces-over which he has no control. To

achieve this Edeh proposed and personally embarked

on the following:
Authentic Solidarity with the Poor through the
Principle of Subsidiarity: According to Edeh's
philosophy, authentic solidarity with the poor has to be
always exercised in line with the principle of
subsidiary. Subsidiary should be in the form of help to
self-help. This is because for him true development
cannot take place unless the people are the principal
agents of their own development and architects of
their own history. Edeh insists that true development is
development of people by themselves, by their own
decision-making and their productivity. Thus solidarity
in Edeh's economics is aimed at empowering the poor
in the process of development. It is not a paternalism
that attempts to treat those in need of help as minors; it
is not aimed at stifling their initiative, freedom and
responsibility. 6
A clear and practical example here is Edeh's
Rehabilitation Centre Elele, where members of the
society who got shattered in life through any of these
ways(1)Mental disorder, (or any other sickness)
(2) those who suffered great loss in
business and as a result became

psychologically imbalanced (3) those

abjectly poor etc. These are rehabilitated
and made to embark on skill acquisition
programme after which the Centre helps
them to get established in life according to
one's ability and skill.7
Consciousness of the Dignity of Man in Our
Economic Decisions
The average person today seems unperturbed when
he hears that millions of people suffer and die annually
on account of poverty. According to Edeh the cause of
such indifference is because the contemporary
society perceives poverty as abstract. (It does not
exist concretely) what we have are poor people;
people with marks of poverty all over their body. But
according to his philosophy, these people have in
them the sublime dignity because they are fashioned
in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26). Edeh
therefore maintains that in working to reduce poverty
in our midst we must always keep in mind that the
human person carries in him the divine breath of life
and that it is not an exaggeration to state that extreme
poverty often tends to rob its victims of this sense of
dignity and self-esteem. With their freedom weakened
or in most cases robed absolutely by the coercive

effects of economic hardship, extortion, abuses of all

kinds and crime have become the order of the day,
thereby robbing our society of the peace it deserves.
According to Edeh, man's worth as MMADI (the good
that is) - the bearer of God's image and likeness,
imposes on all of us the duty to respect, cherish and
preserve human life. Thus each and every human
person from womb to tomb has an inalienable right to
life, to bodily integrity and to those means which are
suitable for the proper development of life.


In his famous book Towards An Igbo Metaphysics, it is
clearly seen that the Igbo proverb udo anaghi adi ebe
ajo uche di (peace is incompatible with evil thoughts)
expresses the belief of the people that every evil act
emanates from the heart and when there is lack of
proper communication the resultant effect is suspicion
which gives birth to evil thoughts and where there are
evil thoughts, there can never be peace.
In our world today, many countries spend a whole lot
of resources building up weapons of mass
destruction; this is because there is lack of proper
communication which has given birth to suspicion
resulting to evil thoughts against each other; this is
because they have failed to see man as MMADI (the
good that is) and therefore should be protected and
not destroyed. The rich do not feel secure in the midst
of the poor whom they impoverished through their
inhuman exploitations.
Consequently, peace has
disappeared from the world of man; people sleep with
one eye and ear open for fear of the unknown. This
would not be the case if Edeh's philosophy is applied.
If man should think of his fellow man as created in the
image of God and therefore deserves care and love. If
this philosophy is imbibed, there will be no room for

habouring evil thoughts against our fellow human

being and consequently, the resources thrown away
for procuring of weapons will be used for effective
charity that will let peace and tranquility reign in the
hearts of millions in our contemporary society.


Andrew. A. Akaida, Philosophy and American
Culture, Oxford University Press, 1937, p.25.

Emmanuel M. P Edeh, Towards an Igbo

Metaphysics, Loyola University
Chicago 1985, p. 72.

Ibid; pp 1-5.

Emmanuel M. P. Edeh, Madonna University,

Light of the World, Salt of the Earth. Madonna
University Press,
Enugu. 2009, p.1.

JohnBosco Kalu, Peace to the Modern World,

Our Saviour Press Ltd., Enugu. pp. 24-25.

Emmanuel M. P. Edeh, The Church of Jesus the

Saviour in Africa: Volume One (ed.) Madonna
University Press, Enugu. 2009, p. 68.

Emmanuel M. P. Edeh, Towards an Igbo

Metaphysics, Loyola University Press Chicago.
1985, p. 50.


Akaida, A. Philosophy and American Culture, Oxford
University Press, 1937.
Edeh E.MP, Towards an Igbo Metaphysics, Loyola
University Press, 1985.
-------------- Madonna University, Light of the World,
Salt of the Earth. Madonna University Press,
-------------- The Church of Jesus the Saviour in Africa:
Volume One (ed.) Madonna University Press,
Kalu, JB. Peace to the Modern World, Our Saviour
Press Ltd,


The human inclination to satisfy the 'self' makes the
realization of practical and effective charity a difficult
task. Practical and effective charity is a total self denial
to provide a holistic succour for the needy and the
suffering after the mind of Christ who perfected charity
on the cross. Charity of this sort is at variance with the
world's philanthropism which some humanitarians do
for some other motives. That is why in a every
generation, it is one out of millions who is found to
have the courageous heart to exhibit practical and
effective charity. It is not done out of the abundance of
material wealth, rather, it is done out of the abundance
of love of Christ who suffers in the suffering and the
abjectly poor. In the wake of the third century, the light
of charity was borne by St. Lawrence who considered
the sick and the suffering as the treasures of the
church. In the 16th century, the baton of charity was
bravely handled by St. Vincent de Paul who founded
the congregation of missions to perpetuate his
mission of practical charity. In the 20th century, Mother
Teresa of Calcutta with her sisters of charity kindled

the fire of charity to its flaming point. In our own time,

the 21 s t century, characterized by African
metaphysical thinking, Very Rev.Fr. E.M.P EDEH, C.
S. Sp. stands out with his Saviourite Congregations to
take the lead in this noble and divine task of practical
and effective charity. To demonstrate the facility of the
above assertion , this paper aims at a critical
evaluation of the extent to which Rev. Fr. Edeh has
responded to the cry of Christ Whatever you do to the
least of my brothers, that, you do unto me which
implies a practical and effective charity.
Fr. Edeh's principles of Practical and Effective
For a better understanding of Fr. E.M.P Edeh's
mission of practical and effective Charity, it is
necessary to know the compelling force and principles
behind his mission. Knowledge of those compelling
forces or principles will help to explain why Fr. Edeh is
so obsessed and engrossed in the mission of Charity
to the poor and the needy. The root of these principles
can be traced from an outstanding work in the life of Fr.
Edeh the basic tenet of the African philosophy of


Fr. Edeh was motivated in this mission of practical and

effective charity by the fundamental and the distinctive
feature of African philosophy. According to Fr. Edeh,
Africans derive their notion of being from their
definition of man as the Good that is''. Hence he
maintains that from this exposition of the meaning of
the word man (madu), we discover that in man, the
Igbo is able to discern the notion of good that is.1
Thus, man is seen, in the African context as a sacred
and dignified being who is constantly cared for and is
supported by Osebuluwa. Edeh establishes
goodness as the Ontological value of man because of
his beholdenness of God who is the Ultimate Good.
He further argues that if Chukwu created man to be
good, then, every effort should be made to restore the
fallen man to his rightful position of holistic goodness.
It is from this view that African philosophy of being
reaches its climax. Consequently, one can boldly and
validly argue that the spirit of African philosophy is that
of caring and communal living. Hence Edeh argues
that the members of my village community are
traditionally united by bounds of common belonging.
Every member is fully welcome and recognized''2
Edeh interprets this spirit of togetherness and
communal living which demands a holistic concern for

the 'other' as a mission of practical and effective

From the foregoing, it is clear that in the life of Fr.
Edeh, there is a perfect blend of his spiritual or
religious mission with his intellectual orientation which
contains existential values. He contends in his
articulation of African philosophy, as typified in Igbo
metaphysics, that philosophy of this kind offers other
peoples an ideal of human existence, specifically, an
ideal of human dignity based upon the belief that all
human beings deserve respect''3.Consequently
charity is a mission of restoring man to this his
ontological goodness.
Charity to the Sick, the Poor, the Handicapped and
the Marginalised
The Nigerian Civil War left many lives broken and
shattered many families. The programme of
Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction
which the Nigerian government initiated after the war
could not heal the wounds of many victims especially
among the Igbo who suffered the war most. Many
Biafran soldiers were abandoned in their wounds and
pains. It was in the fullness of all these brokenness
and troubles that Fr. Edeh came back from abroad and

seeing all these things, his kind heart was troubled.

His effective intercession and adoration to Jesus in
the Blessed Sacrament wrought great miracles, signs
and wonders and as a result, many people especially
the sick and the abandoned people came to seek
caring under him. Seeing that they were like sheep
without a shepherd, he took it upon himself to
practically alleviate their sufferings. He started by
washing and binding the wounded ones, cooking and
feeding the sick ones by himself and praying for all of
them. As the number grew beyond his personal and
single effort, he founded the Congregation of Sisters
of Jesus the Saviour to help him and in 1986 he
established our Saviour Rehabilitation Centre to take
a holistic care of all the abandoned and sick people of
God. In 1992, he established Our Saviour Motherless
Babies Home, Elele to solve the problems of babies
whose mothers died out of sickness and those who
were abandoned or dumped in the streets by their
To demonstrate the fact that this was not an accidental
disposition of a moment, he has taken bolder steps to
concretize and perpetuate the charity of this sort.
Today, in the Pilgrimage Centre of the Eucharistic
Adoration and Special Marian Devotion, there are so

many wards and departments where these abjectly

poor people are accommodated such as Umu
Ogbenye ward. Further, the Madonna University
Teaching Hospital is meant to provide, in most cases,
free medical care to these sick and mentally deranged
people. In the Pilgrimage Centre, his attention is
chiefly directed to these down trodden and rejected
people, such that whenever he is around in the
Pilgrimage Centre, he must daily go round their wards
and living apartment and listen to their endless stories
with keen interest as if that were his only commitment.
Taking care of the poor and the sick are his concern.
As he has committed himself to the work of practical
and effective charity, so also does he constantly drum
it to the ears of his Rev. Sisters, priests and monks,
stressing the fact that anyone who follows him must
practice charity. Fr. Edeh summarizes the mission of
these religious congregations in the following
statement: the members of the religious associations
are trained to implement, perpetually, our mission of
practical and effective charity4
Charity to the Pilgrims
Fr. Edeh's establishment of the largest Pilgrimage
Centre in Africa and the fifth largest Pilgrimage Centre
in the whole world has widened his work of practical

and effective charity. It is a Pilgrimage Centre where

millions of people from all walks of life and every part
of the world come to worship God in an endless
prayers and adoration. Most of those who come to the
pilgrimage centre, situated in an interior part of Rivers
state, are those whose problems are beyond human
help. People whose sickness are incurable and have
defiled all medical effort: People who have been
abandoned and rejected by the society: People who
are confused in their lives and see no reason why they
should continue to live. These are the people who
cluster around him like dry arid grounds, hoping to
drink from the spring of his practical and effective
charity. All the pilgrims have one common surname
and that is 'Jesus the Saviour'. This implies that, once
you are a pilgrim and you struggle to be a good
person, as he constantly emphasizes, then, you are
from Fr. Edeh and whatever you are doing or wherever
you are going, you are sent by Fr. Edeh, under the
mandate of Jesus the Saviour.
Fr. Edeh's charity to the pilgrims is on daily basis.
However, during the monthly pilgrimage week when
the pilgrims gather for prayers he usually declares free
medical treatment to them, under the meticulous
examination of some world medical experts in

Madonna Teaching Hospital like; Professor

Thomasisky, a European Cardiologist in Madonna
and Doctor Mathur, also a European Ophthalmologist
in Madonna and a host of others.
Charity in the Educational Sector and Provision
of Job Opportunities
Being aware of the Chinese adage which says Teach
me how to catch fish, don't give me fish, Fr. Edeh has
not limited his Charity to mere provision of daily needs
of the poor, as this would make them perpetually
dependent. To fore-stall such phenomenon, Fr. Edeh
has taken further steps in providing efficient
educational facilities and numerous educational
institutions such as his many Nursery/ Primary
Schools, OSISATECTH College of Education and
Polytechnic, Caritas University and Madonna
University. He has greatly turned around the lives of
many poor and marginalized people by giving those
who can study free scholarship and helping them to
get good jobs after their studies, thereby turning them
from poor to rich people. He summarizes this point
through the following statement:
Through these educational
institutions, the handicapped, the
abjectly poor, the abandoned the

troubled youths of the modern

society are decisively cared for
and helped to be well trained and
given proper orientation that
enable them to be established in
life, all free of charge5.
Further, owing to the fact that some people cannot
study because of their sickness or age, but can work,
Fr. Edeh has also provided jobs such as Electrical
works, triumph drinks company, bakery, and many
others, such people are well paid.
Charity to Foreign Nations
As a man of no tribal or racial discrimination, Rev. Fr.
E.M.P. Edeh has extended his hands of practical and
effective Charity beyond the borders of Africa. The
increasing occurrence of natural disasters in Western
World has been a problem of major concern to him.
The notion and common belief has always been that
Africans go to Europe to beg or struggle for money and
are always at the receiving end. However, Fr. Edeh
has shown that where the spirit of Charity and Love
exists, such notion does not hold as some poor and
needy people still exist in Europe. The foreign nations
that have experienced natural disasters such as Haiti

and Vietnam can greatly attest to this fact of extending

the hand of charity to outsiders.
Madonna International Charity Peace Award
Fr. Edeh has taken up the responsibility of reviving the
spirit of charity in our contemporary world. In order to
effect this desired change, he has instituted a
worldwide charity programme called Madonna
International Charity Peace Award. Fr. Edeh, tracing
the origin of this noble progamme says the origin of
this can be traced back to my mother mama
Omeogo, who, a few days before she died in 1996,
handed over to me all her savings, a total of N360,000
(three hundred and sixty thousand naira), with the
instruction that it should be used to initiate and
encourage practical charity in its grass roots5. The
efficacy of this programme is drawn from both the
charity-mindedness of most individuals as well as
most rich people's inclination to help the poor ones. Fr.
Edeh expresses the aim of this programme in the
following words:
This award, no matter how small, is to
be given to whoever in the whole
world, has distinguished himself or
herself in achieving peace in the
modern world (peace in the hearts of

many in the society) through his or

her works of practical and effective
charity, that is, instigating and
encouraging practicing charity in its
grass roots through unreserved and
selfless care and support of the most
helpless members of the society.7
Madonna International Charity Peace Award is devoid
of politics. It is given to anyone who copiously
distinguishes him or herself in the act of practical and
effective charity. In this way, Fr. Edeh has set the
wheel of practical and effective charity in motion to the
modern world. Fr. Edeh's plan for this programme is
articulated in the following words:
This is an award that has begun in a
small way but hopefully, will grow to
be world renowned like the Nobel
Peace Prize Award of Oslo in
Norway. The big difference is that it
cannot be politicized, since it is
essentially a charity peace award8
When this ambition of his materializes the rich man
upstairs who needs fame will climb down and pick the
abandoned and the abjectly poor man to dine and

wine with him. This very programme portrays Fr. Edeh

as an Icon of practical and effective charity. His, is not
to gain world fame, but a burning desire to fulfill the
salvific mandate given to him by Jesus the Saviour
and to demonstrate, as its founder, the existential
values of the African philosophical tenet: love for the


From the foregoing, it is clear that practical and
effective Charity of Fr. Edeh stems from the demand
that Igbo African philosophy makes on all human
beings to care for all persons as good creatures of
God who blazed the trail by first of all caring for those
he created. It is from the notion of man as mma-di,
good that is, that Fr Edeh realized the need to be
charitable to human beings in all ramifications
especially the poor and the less-privileged in the
human society. He is really a true son of Francis
Libermann, the founder of his Religious
Congregation, who, on his death bed said to his
children (the Spiritans) Charity for all, Charity before
all, Charity above all. The same call for charity was
made to him by his mother at her death bed when she
gave all that she had to her son, Fr Edeh as a charity
element to the abjectly poor in the society. With that
amount, an International Charity Award was instituted
which to this day has been a source of inspiration to all
in the call for charity.


E.M.P. Edeh, Towards an Igbo Metaphysics.
(Loyola University Press, 1985), p.100

Ibid, p. 60

Ibid, p. 154

E.M.P Edeh, Peace to the Modern World: A

way Forward Through the Concrete Living of the
Existential Dictates of the African Philosophy of
Being (U.S.A; Minuteman Press, 2007, p.14.

Ibid.; p.58

E.M.P. Edeh, Igbo Metaphysics: The First

Articulation of African Philosophy of Being.
(Nigeria: Madonna University Press, 2009),

Ibid.; p. 59




In the eight chapters of this work critical attempt have
been made to explicate the philosophy of Emmanuel
Edeh as it relates to the various areas of life in the
society. Philosophy and society are very much related
in such a manner that the goodness or otherwise of
any society depends largely on the philosophical
principle guiding that society. Based on this vision,
researchers have demonstrated that Edeh's
philosophy can be applied in the society for some
meaningful improvement.
Francis Nwakile maintains in the very first chapter that
Language is central to all philosophical enquiries
since it is the vehicle through which ideas are
transported from one pole to the other. Through his
analysis of the Igbo language Edeh arrived at his
philosophy of man as mma-di and which in turn calls
for thought and action. In the second chapter Kingsley
Oruh discusses the import of the philosophy of action
and doing which stems from his conviction that African
philosophy is a lived philosophy expressed in the
people's rituals, language and other cultural


The third chapter is a critical look at the

mathematicality of the metaphysics espoused by
Edeh. Oliver Udaya painstakingly discovers the triple
relations between mathematics and the metaphysics
thus; 1., Edeh's philosophy goes from the visible world
of man to the invisible world of God and mathematics
does same moving from the known to the unknown
variables, 2., Edeh's philosophy gravitates from
theory down to the practical dimension and
contemporary mathematics has also taken that
standpoint, and 3., Edeh's philosophy has a universal
acceptability on account of the clarity of concepts and
conceptions just as the mathematical principles which
remain valid universally. Alexander Umenze handles
the connection of Edeh's philosophy to law in the
society in chapter four. It is an indubitable fact that no
human society exists without law which serves as the
guide to actions and regulator of human activities.
Therefore, Edeh's philosophy corroborates the need
for just laws that will take care of peaceful existence.

metaphysics comes in to generate the sterling

principles upon which the politics will be played in a
safe and salvific manner. In chapter six Charles Onuh
investigates the imperativeness of Edeh's philosophy
to communication. Operating from Igbo-African
background as articulated in Edeh's metaphysics.
Onuh maintains that such thinking builds and rebuilds
communication to the betterment of the society. Along
the same line of improving the life style of people in the
society Michael Melladu in chapter seven explores
how Edeh through his philosophy of thought and
action arrived at an economic system that enthrones
the dignity of man as God's creatures over and above
any profit making. Finally, Pius Abuchi evaluates the
philosophical principle undergirding Edeh's
metaphysics which naturally lead to the practice of
concrete and effective charity to all human beings
wherever they are found.

Martins Uche holds that Igbo Metaphysics is relevant

in the area of politics since in the day to day workings
of the human society man is condemned to
relationality despite the differences therein among the
members of the society. In lieu of this, Igbo


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