The Death Penalty from an African Perspective

Views from Zimbabwean and Nigerian Philosophers

Jonathan O. Chimakonam, Fainos Mangena (Eds.)

by Adebayo Aina (Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria), Jonathan O. Chimakonam (University of Pretoria, South Africa), Christopher Agulanna (University of Ibadan, Nigeria), Francis Machingura (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Ngoni Makuvaza (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Uduma Oji Uduma (Ebonyi State University, Nigeria), Tarisayi Andrea Chimuka (University of Botswana, Botswana), Christian Chukwuka Emedolu (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria), Alex Munyonga (Catholic University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Benjamin Gweru (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Isaiah Munyiswa (Stellenbosch University, South Africa), Clive Tendai Zimunya (University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa), Chipo M. Hatendi (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Victor C. A. Nweke (University of Calabar, Nigeria), Tatenda Mataka (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Joyline Gwara (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Fainos Mangena (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe)

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"This book attempts to philosophically interrogate the socio-anthropological dimensions of the practice of death penalty in sub-Saharan Africa. Its originality lies on its resolve to forge a consensual anti-death penalty theory from a multicultural African perspective. In this way, the submissions in the book, together promise to be an invaluable contribution to narratives about capital punishment in traditional African cultures and in political settings of contemporary Africa.
Owing to its possible appeal to ethnologists, moral philosophers, jurists, scholars in religious studies and African Studies, the book is likely to cause a revision of widely held positions on death penalty and raise controversy over the veracity of the claims of these burgeoning scholars. This is because many of the views presented seemed to have been based on sentimental assumptions about high premium for life and regard for human dignity ascribed to selected African folklores, mores, and proverbs contained in African literature and orature.
Beside mechanics and style of writing, editorial needs for the future would include an evaluation of the moral status of human sacrifice and other cultural practices vis a vis the doctrine of human dignity which such principles as hunhu-ubuntu/umunna/ndu are purported to portray. Contemplating an African position on death penalty is an ambitious project that would stir debate. But if profitably sustained, it may enable further expansion of the scope and breadth of the study for a homogenous cultural meeting point."

Muyiwa Falaiye, Ph.D, MNAL, Professor of Philosophy, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Director, Institute of African and Diaspora Studies, University of Lagos, Nigeria

Socrates, the father of philosophy, was a victim of the death penalty. In this collection of essays, a group of African philosophers revisits this all-important subject with a view not only to bring this topic to the fore but more crucially to provide refreshing context-based philosophical arguments of their own.

Pascah Mungwini
Professor of Philosophy
University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

An intellectually robust and captivating ethical discourse by African philosophers regarding the controversial death penalty within the traditional and contemporary Africa…a must read for all interested in Justice as a value in human life…

Kahiga J. Kiruki
Professor of Philosophy
Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya

This book is a remarkable contribution from African philosophers to the global debate on the death penalty, its institutions and administrations in a specific context; and in a time of great transformations in our ideas of right and wrong.

Oladele Abiodun Balogun
Professor of Philosophy
Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria

This book is about an African philosophical examination of the death penalty debate. In a 21st century world where the notion of human right is primed, this book considers the question of the death penalty in two sub-Saharan African countries namely, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, notorious for their poor human right records. This edited collection comprises of 11 essays from Zimbabwean and Nigerian philosophers. As opinions continue to divide over the retention or abolition of the death penalty, these African philosophers attempt to localise this debate by raising the following questions: What is the meaning of life in the African place? Is it proper to take the human life under any guise at all? Who has the right to take the human life? Can the death penalty be justified on the bases of African cultures? Why should it be abolished? Why should it be retained? Indeed, this book is the first of its kind to engage the tumultuous issue of capital punishment in the postcolonial Africa and from the African philosophical point of view.


Introduction Africanizing the Death Penalty Discourse: Philosophical views from Zimbabwe and Nigeria
Fainos Mangena

Chapter 1 The Death Penalty and the Sacro-Sanctity of Life: Perspectives in Igbo Ethics
Chukwuka Christian Emedolu

Chapter 2 Ndubuisi: An Igbo-African Understanding of the Value of Human Life and its Implications for the Death Penalty Question
Uduma Oji Uduma, Victor C. A. Nweke

Chapter 3 The Death Penalty from an Igbo Cultural Perspective: a Nigerian Case Study
Christopher Agulanna

Chapter 4 The Death Penalty Debate in Contemporary Context: The Yoruba (African) Integrative Notion to the Rescue
Adebayo A. Aina

Chapter 5 Current Debates on the Death Penalty in Zimbabwe: A Philosophical Appraisal of Views from Critical Stakeholders
Fainos Mangena, Francis Machingura

Chapter 6 An Interrogation of Capital Punishment in Nigeria’s Penal System: Towards a Freedom Theory of Punishment in African Philosophy
Jonathan O. Chimakonam
Chapter 7 The Western and African Underpinnings of the Death Penalty: A Comparative Analysis
Clive Tendai Zimunya, Joyline Gwara,Isaiah Munyiswa

Chapter 8 Amplifying the Anti-Death Penalty Discourse in Zimbabwe: Lessons from Chivanhu Justice
Ngoni Makuvaza

Chapter 9 Interrogating the Death Penalty Discourse and its Hidden Dynamics in an African Context
Tarisayi Andrea Chimuka

Chapter 10 Gender and the Death Penalty Law in Zimbabwe: An Exploratory Essay
Chipo M Hatendi, Tatenda Mataka, Benjamin Gweru

Chapter 11 The Death Penalty in the Context of Xenophobia in South Africa, 2008 and 2015
Alex Munyonga

List of Contributors
Selected Bibliography

1. Fainos Mangena PhD is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Zimbabwe and is the interim President of the Philosophical Society of Zimbabwe (PSZ). His research interests include ethics and the environment, ethics and culture, and gender and politics. Mangena has also received the prestigious African Humanities Programme Post-doctoral Fellowship funded by the Carnegie Corporation. He has published several books and articles including Hunhu/Ubuntu in the Traditional Thought of Southern Africa (2016) and ‘Ramose’s Legacy and The Future of African Philosophy’ in Philosophia Africana (2017).

2. Jonathan O. Chimakonam Ph.D, is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Calabar, Nigeria and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. His teaching and research interests include: African Philosophy, Logic, Feminism, Environmental Ethics, Postcolonial thought. He aims to break new grounds in African philosophy and Systems of Thought. He is the convener of the African Philosophy Circle, The Conversational School of Philosophy (CSP) and a winner of Jens Jacobsen Research Award for Outstanding Research in Philosophy presented by the International Society for Universal Dialogue conferred at the Polish Academy of Sciences, University of Warsaw, Poland (July, 2016). He is African philosophy Area Editor in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. He propounded the theories of Conversational thinking and Ezumezu Logic. Chimakonam has given several international conference lectures.

3. Christopher Agulanna Ph.D, a professor of ethics and social philosophy, teaches at Nigeria’s premier University, the University of Ibadan. He is a recipient of a European Union scholarship that enabled him to undertake the Erasmus Mundus double Master’s Course in Applied Ethics at the Linkoping University, Sweden and the Utrecht University, Netherlands. Christopher Agulanna is a member of the West African Bioethics Program and was part of a team of bioethicists that developed the National Code of Health Research Ethics for the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria. The Code provides guidance on health research involving human beings in Nigeria.

4. Francis Machingura Ph.D, is an Associate Professor (Biblical Studies) at the University of Zimbabwe, Curriculum and Arts Education Department, Faculty of Education. His areas of special interest are on the: Interaction of the Bible and Gender, Politics, Health, Inclusivity, Sexuality, Music and Pentecostal Christianity in Africa. He has published books, articles and chapters. Some of his latest publications include: 1) ‘Of Praying and Paying’: Christianization of Capitalism through Prosperity Theology, in Makochekanwa, A (eds) (2016), The Impact of Dollarisation on Zimbabwe, Harare: University of Zimbabwe Publications. 2) Disability and Bible: The New Testament Narratives on Disability, in Kabue, S (2016) (eds), Disability in Africa: A Resource Book for Theology and Religious Studies, Nairobi: Action Publishers.

5. Ngoni Makuvaza Ph.D, is a Senior Lecturer of Philosophy of Education in the Department of Educational Foundations of the University of Zimbabwe. He holds a Masters Degree in Philosophy from the University of Zimbabwe and a Doctorate Degree in Philosophy of Education from the same university. He has published widely on issues related to education, philosophy of education and hunhu/ubuntu, as well as philosophy and indigenous knowledge systems. His latest book is entitled: Re-thinking education in postcolonial sub-Saharan Africa: Post-Millennium Development Goals (Co-authored with Prof. E. Shizha, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada).

6. Uduma Oji Uduma Ph.D, is a professor in the Department of Philosophy, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki. He has also taught in the University of Lagos, University of Port Harcourt, Kogi State University and University of Uyo as well as University of Cape Coast Ghana. His areas of research interest include African philosophy, logic, philosophy of law and metaphysics. He has authored a number of books in these areas and is widely published in learned journals. Uduma is also a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as well as a chartered manager.

7. Tarisayi Andrea Chimuka Ph.D, teaches Philosophy at the University of Botswana. He also taught at the University of Zimbabwe from 1997 to 2014. His research interests are: Philosophy and African culture, Critical Thinking, Logic, Peace and Development Studies. His latest Publications are: “Overcoming the Alienating and Stigmatizing Uses of Language on Persons with Disability in Southern Africa, in (eds.) Kabue S, Amanze J.N & C. Landman Disability in Africa: Resource Book for Theology and Religious Studies, Action Publishers, Nairobi, pp. 336-386, and “Afro-Pentecostalism and Contested Holiness in Southern Africa,” Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, 42 (1), pp.33-55

8. Christian Chukwuka Emedolu Ph.D, is a product of St Joseph Major Seminary, Ikot Ekpene, - an Affiliate Institute of Urban University, Rome. He earned his Bachelor’s after imbibing strong Scholastic rigors. He got his Masters degree and Doctorate in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Port Harcourt, where he is currently a Senior Lecturer. He has taught several courses to demonstrate his versatility in philosophy. He has attended many conferences and is the author of several journal articles, essays and books, including the two volumes of Originality (University of Port Harcourt Press, 2010).

9. Adebayo Aina Ph.D, is a senior lecturer and has been teaching philosophy for twenty years in Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. He has been a visiting scholar to Lagos State University, Ojo. He has published several articles in both local and international learned journals. He specialises in punitive studies with special interest in African jurisprudence. His current publication, in Al-hikmat: Journal of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, university of the Punjab, is titled "the challenges of accessing justice in contemporary African Society: lessons from Yoruba Juristic Practices".

10. Alex Munyonga holds a BA Degree, BA Special Hons Degree, an MA Degree in Philosophy from the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU). He is currently studying for PhD Degree in Philosophy with the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) in South Africa. He is a lecturer at the Catholic University of Zimbabwe and ZOU where he teaches Metaphysics, Applied Ethics and Philosophy of Education. His research interests are in Environmental ethics and Social ethics.

11. Isaiah Munyiswa is a Political Philosophy lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe (2006-present). He holds BA Honours and MA in Philosophy Degrees from the University of Zimbabwe. He is studying for his PhD in Philosophy with Stellenbosch University (RSA), and aims to complete in the first quarter of 2017. His research interests are in citizenship and human development and capabilities studies.

12. Clive Tendai Zimunya is a lecturer of Logic at the University of Zimbabwe in the Department of Religious Studies Classics and Philosophy. He is currently studying for a PhD at the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. His research interests include Logic, Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of Action.

13. Chipo M Hatendi is a lecturer of Philosophy in the Department of Religious Studies, Classics and Philosophy at the University of Zimbabwe. She received an M.A in Philosophy and also holds a B.A (Hons) Degree in Philosophy from the same institution (University of Zimbabwe). Currently, she is pursuing her Doctoral studies in Business ethics (University of Zimbabwe).Chipo's research interest lies in applied ethics specifically business ethics, medical ethics, philosophy of education and the history of philosophy.

14. Victor C. A. Nweke is an editorial assistant with the Conversational School of Philosophy, University of Calabar, Nigeria. He is also a research assistant/Ph.D. student at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. His major research interests include Applied ethics, Logic, African philosophy, and Intercultural philosophy. His works mainly border on the innovative development and application of philosophic principles and systems from the African place to confront the question of justice, cross-cultural understanding, peacebuilding and sustainable development in Africa and across the globe. Victor is also a 2016-2018 HASTAC Scholar. His Ph.D. research focuses on a plausible theory of justice from the African place.

15. Tatenda Mataka holds BA Hons Degree in Philosophy and an MA Degree in Philosophy from the University of Zimbabwe. He is still looking for opportunities to do his PhD Degree in Philosophy. His areas of research interest include Ethics, Criminal justice, Cultures, Gender, Human Rights, the Environment, Animal Rights and Philosophy of Religion.

16. Joyline Gwara is a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe where she teaches African Philosophy and Epistemology. She is doing her doctoral studies at the University of Kwazulu Natal in South Africa. Her research interests include African Philosophy, Metaphysics and Epistemology.

17. Benjamin Gweru is a Lecturer in the Sociology Department of the University of Zimbabwe. He is a holder of a BA Degree, BSc Honours Degree in Sociology and an MSc Degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology all from the University of Zimbabwe. His areas of research interests include rural and urban development, sociology of organizations, livelihoods, gender and ethics.

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

The Death Penalty from an African Perspective

Book Subtitle

Views from Zimbabwean and Nigerian Philosophers





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Publication date
October 2019