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This article interrogates the meaning of academic freedom in African universities after the attainment of political independence. It explores the nuances of the concept of academic freedom and traces its appropriation in African contexts. The article contends that African scholars operate in challenging political environments due to the quest by political leaders to dabble in philosophy. African ‘philosopher kings’ have sought to articulate grand visions and narratives of development and they brook no dissent in this ‘sacred quest’. As a result, African academics are generally expected to tow the line and endorse the grandiose philosophies articulated by the ambitious presidents. We argue that this is dangerous and results in loss of academic freedom. The article concludes by emphasising that African intellectuals can make more effective contributions to the nations by refusing to be co-opted and remaining faithful to the tenets of academic freedom.
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