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African Environmental Ethics and the Poverty of Eco-Activism in Nigeria

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A Hermeneutico-Reconstructionist Appraisal

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Discourse on the possibility and necessity of an African environmental ethics is widespread in contemporary African studies, albeit with new dimensions and emphasis. With the growing work of such scholars as S. Ogungbemi, A. Fadahunsi, G. Tangwa, P. Ojomo, C.J. Ekwealo, and W. Kelbessa, among others exploring (in different ways) the thesis of indigenous African environmental values and principles which are considered sacrosanct in the restoration of humans and the environment in Africa, it is less controversial whether or not there is awareness of environmental ethical thinking among Africans. Beyond this theoretical polemic, the present essay observes the paucity of environmental activism and movements in Nigeria, whose underlying principles and tenets are seen to be incongruent with the ostensible African environmental ethics and values. This lacuna, it is here argued, aligns with the failure to match theory with praxis in many African states—the problem of wrong prioritizing and a conceptually deficient framework for action. This essay accordingly questions some previous outlines of African ethical environmental theory, with a view to establishing a cogent hermeneutico-reconstructive theory of African environmental management, one that gives prominence to ethical theorizing without neglecting activism.

Affiliations: 1: University of Lagos


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