Professor Paulin Hountondji celebrated as a monument of the African intelligentsia

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On the occasion of the presentation of his selected book in the 100 best African books of the XXthe century, Professor Paulin Hountondji received honors from the university community and personalities of the Republic. It was yesterday, Thursday, December 8, 2022, at the Azalaï hotel in Cotonou.

Soglo with Paulin Hountondji

What to remember : Known as one of the most influential philosophers in Africa, Professor Paulin Hountondji was honored through his book “On African Philosophy. Critique of ethnophilosophy”. The book was selected among the 100 best African books of the 20th centurythe century. It was presented to the Beninese public this Thursday, December 8, 2022. It was a moment of recognition, testimonials and tribute to the author Professor Paulin Hountondji, the only Beninese included in this ranking. The event brought together personalities such as ministers, university professors, executives and politicians. President Nicéphore Dieudonné Soglo, Candide Azannaï, former Rector Maxime Da-Cruz, FASHS Dean Monique Ouassa Kouaro and many others enhanced the event with their presence together with Professor Paulin Hountondji.

Between lines : Born on April 11, 1940 in Abidjan, Paulin Hountondji, a specialist in African philosophy, is the author of several books. He has received numerous awards both nationally and internationally. His book, which has just been distinguished among the 100 best African books of the 20th centurythe century was published in 1977 by the editions of François Maspero. His problem is still current. The author invites you to investigate African philosophy in African works. This 250-page book traces the genesis and evolution of his thinking on the subject, the problems, and the difference between African philosophy and Western philosophy. The author criticizes ethnophilosophy for being in the imaginary search for a collective, immutable philosophy, common to all Africans, albeit unconsciously.

What do the actors think? : Ministers Aurélien Agbénonci and Elénore Yayi paid a vibrant tribute to a prominent academic. For Minister Agbénonci, who recalled what this great author deserves, Paulin Hountondji is one of those who have chosen his sector well, including philosophy. For her part, Minister Eléonore Yayi Ladékan expressed her gratitude and the pride of her ministerial department as well as the government for Benin, which is increasingly standing out. According to her, this ceremony is very important in the sense that it makes it possible to celebrate what is hidden in the universities. The ministerial authority paid tribute to Professor Hountondji, who made a strong impression on him. “It is a challenge for all of us through this book. How to draw our sources of inspiration from the greatness of man to know how to promote what we know how to do”, said Eléonore Yayi Ladékan. Along the same lines, President Soglo praised his faith, his commitment to writing, and celebrated this excellent work. “Under his pen, this subject (philosophy) becomes an art on the college campus, even in politics. It is a book to savor ad nauseam,” said President Soglo. He said that this book launch is an opportunity to celebrate reading. “Opportunity for us to pay tribute to him for his career, his intellect and especially his revival of African literature. It is not easy for everyone. Our country can be proud to have its Cheick Anta Diop, its Wolé Soyinka”, President Soglo insisted. The former president pointed out that he and the Beninese philosopher have been fighting together since the national conference. The dean of the FASHS, Monique Ouassa Kouaro, also praised the merit of the great man. “He has done a lot for the African university community and for the University of Abomey-Calavi. First honorary dean of former flashes, this is the place to thank you for the struggle for the development of Africa and the framework of philosophy. The cultural heritage and the tool that bequeaths to the younger generations. This new publication gives us all the certification that you have not abandoned art and released the fight, ”he made it clear.

Partial view of the participants in the book launch

Secondly : Paulin Hountondji thanked everyone. He recalled the history of this book and specified that the thesis defended in this book was not unanimously accepted. “This book has sparked a lot of debate. Many people did not agree with what he was saying. It is for this reason that the book has become very important. It is a book that invites intellectual reflection. Since we did not need intellectual work to prove that our ancestors were not stupid. The important thing is to know what we do with this heritage. It is the way in which we respond through our diversities to the challenges of the present”, he said before continuing: “I take this honor with great humility. I do not claim that this book is the best work produced in Benin throughout the 20th century. We have good writers. Paul Hazoumè, Olympe Bhêly Quenum, etc. “. It must be said that among the selected books there are 18 in South Africa, 12 in Nigeria, Senegal 10, Ghana 7, Egypt 6, Mozambique 5, Algeria 3, Ivory Coast 3, Benin 1, Burkina 1 and other countries as well. The Paulin Hountondji’s book has been translated into English, German and will be translated into Portuguese and Chinese.

Alban Chala

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