(An excerpt from my working chapter on Africana doctrine of humanity and Africana theological anthropology. This is a draft.)
On the value of Black African view of man….
It is assumed that traditional African perspective on man (humanity) stresses the value of community rather the individual, as it is commonly practiced in Western societies. Traditional African doctrine of humanity is more promising, dignifying, and liberating. The role and destiny of the individual is essentially determined within the framework of the community or kingship, and the individual’s active participation in the life of the community. That does not mean that the African people do not see any merit in the individual, nor do they undermine the worth and implications of individual choices or preferences; however, it does mean that the African people prioritize communal choices over individual preferences. The individual exists as a corporate entity.
The notion of “social man” or “corporate individual” (even “collective solidarity”) affirms that the individual knows his or her functions in and responsibilities to the community. It is only in this manner can he or she be deemed a genuine being in the African stance of corporate humanity. While one is born human (humanness), one has to become (evolutionary theory) a person (personhood) in the context of communal life and communal engagement. Being a human is a biological category; being a person is not. The person is the product of the community. Hence, African anthropology–both from a social and philosophical perspective— promotes the notion of radical dependence and radical interdependence since human beings are radically interdependent and dependent.
It is also assumed that traditional African philosophical ethics and humanism ought to be praised, as compared to those of the Western ethico-philosophical traditions. For example, in the African worldview and cosmology, all principles of morality and ethics are to be sought within the context of preserving human life and its power or force (See Laurenti Magesa, African Religion).
Traditional African view of man and moral philosophy promote an ethics of relationality and interpenetration, and make a clarion call upon us to the imperative and practice of sociability, bonding, and collective solidarity in the modern world.