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Ciku Kimeria
Writer, Adventurer, Development Consultant, Travelblogger
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piqer: Ciku Kimeria
Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The African Philosopher Who Came Up With Enlightenment Ideals Before Locke, Hume And Kant

A century before the days of the European Enlightenment philosophers, there was an Ethiopian hermit philosopher who had come up with the ideals of enlightenment while living in solitude in a cave. He had already questioned the supremacy of any religion or belief system over another, already written that husband and wife are equal in marriage — an argument that even his Western counterparts had not yet come to centuries later. Yacob in his cave had questioned a lot about religion. 

Chapter four of the Hatäta starts with a radical question: ‘Is everything that is written in the Holy Scriptures true?’ He goes on to point out that all the different religions claim theirs is the true faith...In chapter five, Yacob applies rational investigation to the different religious laws. He criticizes Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Indian religions equally. 

What fascinates me is also how he believed in gender equality — for me this is one of the rebuttals for when it is said that feminism is unAfrican. There have been thousands of champions for gender equality on the continent long before the formal concept of feminism came into the continent — matriarchal systems, women warriors and powerful queens. 

After Yacob left the cave, he proposed to a poor maiden named Hirut, who served a rich family. Yacob argued with her master, who did not think a servant woman was equal to an educated man, but Yacob prevailed. When Hirut gladly accepted his proposal, Yacob pointed out that she should no longer be a servant, but rather his peer, because ‘husband and wife are equal in marriage’.

To contrast this, Kant wrote a century later: "A woman is embarrassed little that she does not possess certain high insights." His writings also showed that he believed the only real reason men desire women is for sex. However, Yakob, his Ethiopian predecessor from over a century earlier, cherished his wife’s intelligence, and he stressed their mutual and individualistic love for one another. 

The African Philosopher Who Came Up With Enlightenment Ideals Before Locke, Hume And Kant
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Comments 4
  1. christoph weigel
    christoph weigel · 4 days ago

    thanks for this piq! great find!

    1. Ciku Kimeria
      Ciku Kimeria · 4 days ago

      Thank you!

    2. christoph weigel
      christoph weigel · 4 days ago

      @Ciku Kimeria looking forward to seeing many more of your good piqs in 2018 - as i did in 2017. all the best!

    3. Ciku Kimeria
      Ciku Kimeria · 4 days ago

      @christoph weigel Really appreciate the support! Looking forward to writing many more piqs in 2018.