Exploring the pre-Newtonian sustainable development meta-power of African totems in the age of Anthropocene

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Nene-Lomotey Kuditchar


African totem regimes enact a holistic pre-Newtonian ontology and hence are bound to be dismissed as “unscientific”. As such they have not been accorded the same level of epistemic importance as scientific conceptualisations in the quest for the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are dominantly framed by a Cartesian methodology and plot methods that do not easily accommodate mysterious and ambiguous worldviews. Nevertheless, this paper demonstrates that African totems are an advanced form of social organisation in that they maintain a balance between human and natural systems through their regulatory efficacy and habitual compliance. Furthermore, the SDGs, unlike the regimes of African totems, are often operationalised in economistic terms and hence tend to be subject to budgetary constraints. African totems are not hampered in the same way. It can be argued that the aspirations of the SDGs have been the norm in Africa for centuries through the regulatory effects of totem meta-governance. This paper therefore makes a case for a rethink of the ontology of (social) science. Doing so, it is argued, would accommodate the worldview of African totems in the worldview that is implicit in the aspirations expressed by SDGs.

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Kuditchar, N.-L. (2022). Exploring the pre-Newtonian sustainable development meta-power of African totems in the age of Anthropocene. The Africa Governance Papers, 2(1), 98–130. Retrieved from https://tagp.gga.org/index.php/system/article/view/26
Research Articles
Author Biography

Nene-Lomotey Kuditchar

Nene-Lomotey Kuditchar is a senior member of the Department of Political Science, University of Ghana (UG). He is also an adjunct instructor at the UG’s Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy, the Centre for Migration Studies and the Institute for Statistical Social and Economic Research. In addition, he serves as an instructor at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College on its Master of Science in Defense and International Politics programme. Nene is a research fellow of the Centre for Asian Studies, University of Ghana and a former research associate of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development where he worked as part of a team on an ETH Zurich-based six- nation research project dubbed “Ethnic Power Relations and Conflict in Fragile States”. In addition, to he is a past fellow of the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa where he conducted research on the theme “Reciprocity and Extremism in the Context of a Stable African Democracy: The Ghana Western Togoland Secessionist Movement in Perspective”. He is a visiting professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, as well as a Fellow of the Academy of International Affairs NRW in Bonn, Germany.


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