"The apprehension that African nations feel about embracing modernity, which has hindered their economic and political development, is the focus of a new book by Olúfémi Táíwò, professor of Africana studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. In “Africa Must be Modern,” Táíwò explores the current problems and political climate in African countries and their progress in recent years; and compares their growth to similar countries in other regions of the world. Costa Rica, for example, preserves its forests and earns substantial revenue from ecotourism, while Liberia risks losing its forests to logging. While the two countries have similar populations, Costa Ricans can expect to live two decades longer than Liberians. “Similar comparisons can be made of, say, Chile and Zambia, Ethiopia and the Philippines, Brazil and Nigeria, and so on,” he writes. These comparisons support Táíwò’s argument that modernity is necessary for African nations’ survival: “If we would compare ourselves with others, rather than differentiate ourselves from them, we might be shamed into action that will move us forward with the rest of humanity.” "In a forthright and uncompromising manner, Olúfémi Táíwò explores Africa’s hostility toward modernity and how that hostility has impeded economic development and social and political transformation. What has to change for Africa to be able to respond to the challenges of modernity and globalization? Táíwò insists that Africa can renew itself only by fully engaging with democracy and capitalism and by mining its untapped intellectual resources. While many may not agree with Táíwò’s positions, they will be unable to ignore what he says. This is a bold exhortation for Africa to come into the 21st century"
I was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. I attended Ibadan Grammar School, Ibadan. It remains one of my cherished aims, if I live long enough, to write about growing up in this great city the greatness of which is often unacknowledged by many who have direct experience of it. I earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and graduate degrees from the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
I taught at the Obafemi Awolowo University until 1990. I moved to the United States of America in 1990. First, I served as a Rockefeller Postdoctoral Fellow at the Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University in 1990/1991. I moved to Loyola University, Chicago, where I taught from 1991 till 2001. Since 2001, I have been a Professor of Philosophy and Global African Studies and Director of the Global African Studies Program at Seattle University, Seattle.
“I was born in Nigeria. I lived there all my 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.”