chapter  9
15 Pages

The colonisation of psychology in Africa

In contrast to the politicians, the poets and the writers of Africa, the voice of the psychological community on the ideological assumptions underlying their discipline, has been relatively muted. The most obvious reason relates to the fact that psychology has been imported as a ready-made product from the West. As Akin-Ogundeji (1991) states, ‘The history of psychology in Africa is largely the history of colonialism’ (p. 3). The lack of a critical perspective undoubtedly also relates to the fact that the discipline constitutes no more than a fledgling enterprise on the continent. It is only in South Africa that mainstream psychology is well established. Akin-Ogundeji (1991) estimated that there were about 150 psychologists in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria. In other African countries, such as Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Liberia, psychology is not yet an established field of study. In these countries ‘Psychology is subordinated to long-established fields such as education, medicine, and psychiatry’ (p. 3). Moreover, some of the critical African voices (e.g., Bulhan and Owusu-Bempah) are working in the West.