African Philosophy: Traditional Yoruba Philosophy and Contemporary African Realities

By Segun Gbadegesin | Go to book overview

9
THE ETHICS AND POLITICS OF WORK

Contemporary African societies are facing a social problem which, in my view, needs to be understood and resolved. I do not claim that I can resolve it; that is a social task. A social problem, by nature, demands a common effort of all for its solution. My task here is to open up a promising path- by exposing the foundations of the problem- towards its ultimate resolution. I want to formulate the question of what work is and what it is conceived to be, and how our conception of it is influenced by, and in turn affects, the socio-economic structure in which we find ourselves. My thesis is simple: Work- productive activity- is one of the essential aspects of the human condition. However, it is now, in our societies, conceived as a curse- a terrible thing to be avoided. This conception of work, which is manifested in our attitude to work, is inimical to our socio-economic growth, individual well-being and the furtherance of our personal and national self- reliance. For one thing, it is an ideological associate of low productivity. The sad thing, however, is that our socio-economic structures have also contributed in no small way to the development of this conception of work and the attitude it engenders. It would seem then that our socio-economic structures are inadvertently creating the means of their own self- mortification. For, when the majority of workers come to associate any call for increased productivity from them with a call for their increased dehumanization, it does not augur well for the future of our nations; and that seems the point we are in now.

Our economies suffer from low productivity and this is a serious problem in view of its consequences for us all. Without high productivity, we all suffer need frustration, perhaps in different degrees, as the supply of commodities and services

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