Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò

Historian, philosopher
Drawing on a rich cultural and personal history, Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò studies philosophy of law, social and political philosophy, Marxism, and African and Africana philosophy.

Why you should listen

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò is professor of African political thought at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University in the US. As he writes: "I was born in Nigeria. I lived there all my life save for the five unbroken years that I sojourned in Canada in search of the proverbial Golden Fleece. By itself, my living in Nigeria does not warrant comment. But the discovery that I speak of put that life in a completely different light; hence these remarks. All my life in Nigeria, I lived as a Yorùbá, a Nigerian, an African, and a human being. I occupied, by turns, several different roles. I was a hugely successful Boy Scout. I was a well-read African cultural nationalist. I was a member of the Nigerian province of the worldwide communion of the Church of England who remains completely enamored of the well-crafted sermon and of church music, often given to impromptu chanting from memory of whole psalms, the Te Deum or the Nunc Dimittis. I was a student leader of national repute. I was an aspiring revolutionary who once entertained visions of life as a guerilla in the bush. I was a frustrated journalist who, to his eternal regret, could not resist the call of the teaching profession. I was an ardent football player of limited talent. I was a budding spiritualist who has since stopped professing faith. Overall, I always believed that I was put on Earth for the twin purposes of raising hell for and catching it from those who would dare shame humanity through either ignorance or injustice or poverty."

Táíwò is the author of Legal Naturalism: A Marxist Theory of Law (1996/2015), How Colonialism Preempted Modernity in Africa (2010) and Africa Must Be Modern: A Manifesto (2012/2014).

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò’s TED talk