I want to investigate how international development agencies, which harbour colonial legacy, reproduce western liberal norms through their policies and practices, especially in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) financial inclusion toolkit. To this end, I am studying the Yoruba people of Nigeria understanding of the self- obligation -society nexus and contrast it with the western liberal tradition, which has element of colonial sentiment in its historical origin, about the self and how it binds itself to society through a social contract. I want to find out how far international development agencies are welded to the western liberal tradition. My hypothesis is that these norms is part of colonial legacy and tool which are used to impose on African people without consideration for African understandings of the self, obligation and society.
Furthermore, I will argue that the western liberal tradition is limited both in its understanding of the self and in its thinking of society. As such, I will postulate that social policy, economic and political development in Africa would look radically different if the western canon of international development studies and its social policy ideas were decolonised by being opened to Africans’ ancestral understanding of the self, obligation and society. I will use the Yoruba philosophical tradition and Nigeria as a case in point.
This research will be guided by the following three key research questions.
a) What are the policy implications of ignoring African ancestral understandings of the self – obligation – society in the implementation of financial inclusion?
b) Does the SDGs’ financial inclusion framework reproduce liberal contractarian norms?
c) In what ways would openness to African understandings of the nexus of the self – obligation – society transform and decolonise the theory and practice of development?
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