Renowned Beninese Philosopher Paulin Hountondji Passes Away at 82

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read
Paulin Hountondji

The esteemed philosopher Paulin Hountondji, a leading figure in African philosophy, breathed his last at his residence in Cotonou, Benin, at the age of 82, as announced by his family. The intellectual community in Benin and across Africa mourns the loss while acknowledging his profound contributions to the field.

Paulin Hountondji held international acclaim, having taught in Besançon and Kinshasa, and co-founded the Inter-African Council for Philosophy. “He stands among the most influential philosophers of the last fifty years,” remarks Senegalese scholar Souleymane Bachir Diagne, who wrote the preface for Hountondji’s work, “Les leçons de Philosophie Africaine.”

A stalwart in his convictions, Hountondji notably asserted himself during the national conference of February 1990, addressing the then-Marxist President Mathieu Kérékou with the assertion: “For democracy to prevail, it is not enough for rights to be outlined in texts; the beneficiaries must also have the courage to claim them without waiting for them to be graciously bestowed upon them.”

In response, Kérékou dismissed the philosopher’s advice, stating, “My God, forgive them, for they are sinners; they do not know what they say. State issues are not the concern of philosophers; we ask Professor Hountondji to be patient.”

Nevertheless, the philosopher would later serve as a minister twice, after the national conference. Until his demise, he steadfastly maintained his intellectual freedom. The people of Benin take pride in his influential and respected voice, anticipating a deserving tribute from the Republic.

Paulin Hountondji leaves behind a legacy of thought-provoking contributions to philosophy and a life marked by an unwavering commitment to principles, making him a source of inspiration for generations to come.

Soukaina Sghir

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