Beyond the Political Spider: Critical Issues in African Humanities | National Inquiry Services Centre

Beyond the Political Spider

Beyond the Political Spider: Critical Issues in African Humanities

Critical Issues in African Humanities

By Kwesi Yankah
Size: 170x240 mm
Pages: 340 pages
ISBN 13: 978-1-920033-80-4
Published: September 2021
Publishers: NISC (Pty) Ltd
Recommended Retail Price: R 325.00
Cover: Paperback

About the book

Beyond the Political Spider: Critical Issues in African Humanities by Kwesi Yankah is the first title in the newly established African Humanities Association (AHA) publication series.

By integrating his own biography into a critique of the global politics of knowledge production, Yankah, through a collection of essays, interrogates critical issues confronting the Humanities that spawn intellectual hegemonies and muffle African voices. Using the example of Ghana, he brings under scrutiny, amongst others, endemic issues of academic freedom, gender inequities, the unequal global academic order, and linguistic imperialism in language policies in governance.

In the face of these challenges, the author deftly navigates the complex terrain of indigenous knowledge and language in the context of democratic politics, demonstrating that agency can be liberatory when emphasising indigenous knowledge, especially expressed through the idiom of local languages and symbols, including Ananse, the protean spider, folk hero in Ghana and most parts of the pan-African world.

Reviewer’s Comments

"Fascinating snapshots from an engaged scholarly life in Africa, valuable as an archival resource for the understanding of this period of higher education in Africa."
John Higgins, Arderne Chair in Literature, Department of English Literary Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa 

"This book is unique and gives a powerful rendition of the state of the Humanities in Africa (with Ghana as a case in point). It grapples with some of the pertinent issues dogging the Humanities in Africa. It comments on the Humanities scholarship in Africa, and subtly throws a challenge for future scholarship. It draws on African traditions, communal heritage, and governance in discussing the role and place of the Humanities in Africa. It also brings into the analysis the ever-changing imperatives and modernity in re-configuring African Humanities."
Mark Benge Okot, Head of Department, Literature, Makerere University, Uganda

"Beyond the Political Spider effectively draws, in a unique fashion, from literature, history, linguistics and other cognate disciplines in the African Humanities." 
Sati Umaru Fwatshak, Department of History, University of Jos, Nigeria

Part of the African Humanities Series

About the Authors

Kwesi Yankah is the author of two award winning books: Speaking for the Chief, which won the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences Gold Book award and The Proverb in the Context of Akan Rhetoric, winner of the Ghana Book Award. The latter was based on his award-winning doctoral dissertation at Indiana University, USA, 1985. He also co-edited African Folklore: An Encyclopedia.

Yankah has held fellowships at several universities including, Stanford, Northwestern, Michigan, Berkley, Pennsylvania and Birmingham.

He was from 2009 to 2017 an Associate Director of the African Humanities Program, established by the American Council of Learned Societies. Between 2017 and 2021 he was Ghana’s Minister of State in Charge of Tertiary Education. 

Yankah is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Folklore Society.



Chapter 1: Rising with the African Humanities 
Chapter 2: Science speaks, the Humanities answer 
Chapter 3: Arts and the African identity


Chapter 4: The quest for a new world academic order 
Chapter 5: The drumbeat of academic freedom 
Chapter 6: Towards gender parity in higher education 


Chapter 7: Language and the dilemma in public policy 
Chapter 8: Kwame Nkrumah’s Verandah Boys 
Chapter 9: Language, education, and electoral choices 


Chapter 10: Proverbs, presidents and the politics of expediency 
Chapter 11: The making and breaking of Kwame Nkrumah 
Chapter 12: Tweaa: Meaning and the social power of little words 
Chapter 13: The folktale as a political transcript 


Chapter 14: J. H. Kwabena Nketia: 1921–2019 
Chapter 15: Efua Sutherland: 1924–1996 
Chapter 16: Agya Koo Nimo 


Order Enquiries

You may contact NISC to purchase this book, however other purchasing options are available. Please see ordering details below:


Order online through from the African Books CollectiveAmazon or order from your local book store.


Order from the African Books Collective.