71. In Blyden’s Wake: West African Intellectuals of the Early Twentieth Century

Posted on

West African intellectuals like J.E. Casely-Hayford (pictured) and Mojola Agbebi build upon Edward Blyden’s ideas at the dawn of the twentieth century.



Further Reading

• S.R.B. Attoh-Ahuma, Memoirs of West African Celebrities: Europe, &c. (1700-1850), with Special Reference to the Gold Coast (Liverpool: 1905).

• S.R.B. Attoh-Ahuma, The Gold Coast Nation and National Consciousness (Liverpool: 1911).

• J.E. Casely-Hayford, Gold Coast Native Institutions, with Thoughts upon a Healthy Imperial Policy from the Gold Coast and Ashanti (London: 1903).

• J.E. Casely-Hayford, Ethiopia Unbound: Studies in Race Emancipation (London: 1911).

• J. Mensah Sarbah, Fanti Customary Laws: A Brief Introduction to the Principles of the Native Laws and Customs of the Fanti and Akan Districts of the Gold Coast with a Report of Some Cases Thereon Decided in the Law Courts (London: 1897).

• J. Mensah Sarbah, Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise on the Constitution and Government of the Fanti, Asanti, and Other Akan Tribes of West Africa, together with a Brief Account of the Discovery of the Gold Coast by Portuguese Navigators; a Short Narration of Early English Voyages; and a Study of the Rise of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, etc., etc. (London: 1906).


• A. Akiwowo, "The Place of Mojola Agbebi in the African Nationalist Movements: 1890-1917," Phylon 26 (1965): 122-139.

• E.A. Ayandele, Holy Johnson: Pioneer of African Nationalism, 1836-1917 (London: 1970).

• R.W. July, The Origins of Modern African Thought: Its Development in West Africa During the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (New York: 1967), chs. 14, 16, 17, 21.

• R. Okonkwo, "Mojola Agbebi: Apostle of the African Personality," Présence Africaine 114 (1980): 144-159.

• S. Tenkorang, "John Mensah Sarbah, 1864-1910," Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 14 (1973): 65-78.

• P.S. Zachernuk, Colonial Subjects: An African Intelligentsia and Atlantic Ideas (Charlottesville: 2000), ch. 3. 

Special thanks to Mary Owusu (especially for her dissertation, Nationalism in Question: A Study of Key Categories in Ghanaian History, 1863-1965) and Phil Zachernuk for their help with this episode.


Mary O on 11 March 2021

In Blyden’s Wake

Reflecting on Hayford, Sarbah, Ahuma and their Nigerian counterparts Johnson, Crowther and Agbebi has never been easy - personally. What could have been as opposed to what is? Listening to this podcast brought home how much influence philosophy had in shaping historical events that I study. Change and continuity in philosophical leanings of thinkers of African descent undoubtedly shaped the choices that were made. 

It is apt that you explore early socialism next. Eventually, what is - in Africa - became largely influenced by the socialist leanings (across the Atlantic) of Africans in America. Thank you!! 

In reply to by Mary O

Peter Adamson on 12 March 2021

West Africa

Thanks for this response - we would love to hear more of your thoughts as we move forward through the 20th century!

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Africana Philosophy in the Twentieth Century

apple podcasts ..