Canadian expert shines spotlight on African perspectives 

23 May 2019

“African universities should be used as spaces to reclaim African identity and to aid in decolonising the mind-sets of Africans. This will assist in preserving the indigenous knowledge accumulated in the course of the continent's history.”

Pictured from the left are Prof Rasigan Maharajh; Dr Loyiso Mbabane;Prof Mario Scerri; Brenda Nkhumise; Prof George Sefa Dei, the guest speaker;Prof Franscis Nwonwu; Sbusiso Mpungose and Prof Mzo Sirayi.

Speaking at seminar hosted by the Tshwane University of Technology’s UNESCO Chair on Cultural Policy and Sustainable Development, in partnership with the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation, this was the gist of the message delivered by guest speaker, Prof George Sefa Dei. He is currently Prof of Social Justice Education and Director of the Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, Canada. 

Addressing the topic indigenous knowledge systems, decolonization, indigeneity and sustainable development, Prof Dei said that African universities should build capacity locally towards the development of an indigenous knowledge-based school curriculum.

“Such an indigenous curriculum would be reframed to prioritise the critical interests of Africans, and be aimed at solving Africa's problems (rather than prioritising questions that others find important) and re-evaluating the goals of the curriculum and the content in terms of the indigenous knowledge of Africans,” he said.

He added that academics unmask dominant worldviews and knowledge systems masquerading as neutral, universal or singular. They also provide tools to students to analyse where African knowledge is incompatible with other knowledge systems.

Prof Dei added that the current direction of post-colonial education in Africa should be fully understood as a large part of the problem of education. “We have become extremely adept at mimicking Western and Eurocentric theories and methodologies, which hardly speak to African realities,” he said.

He also touched on colonial relations and identity. “When I speak of these relations, I do not only refer to North and South, but also to the way in which knowledge can be imposed on others through imperial relations. It is also a discursive approach to interrogate why, within communities, some knowledge is validated or privileged as opposed to other forms of knowledge. That happens, for example, where male knowledge or knowledge along the lines of gender, class, sexuality, or ethnicity is privileged over another form of knowledge,” he explained.

Born in Ghana, Prof Dei is considered as one of Canada’s foremost scholars on race and anti- racism studies. He is a widely sought after academic, researcher and community worker whose professional and academic work has led to many Canadian and international speaking invitations in US, Europe and Africa. 

Prof Dei is also the 2015, 2016 and 2018 Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow.

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