Calls for decolonised higher education in South Africa are calls for our next revolution, one that was instigated by Rhodes Must Fall movement. The targeting of Cecil John Rhodesâ€
I believe that we are up to the task of decolonising higher education institutions. The energy and passion I felt at the dialogue on that cold Thursday evening at Wits University was powerful. The room was filled with young black students who are tired of being forced to live in what Naledi Chirwa, EFF Student Command leader who was one of the speakers, called â€œexaggerated spaces of white academiaâ€. But as one of the other speakers, UCT Department of Political Studies lecturer Dr Lwazi Lushaba asked, are we aware of the scope of the task ahead?
In order to truly decolonise higher education, black South Africans first need to acknowledge their position in these spaces. Chirwa urged us to come to terms with the fact that, as black people, we donâ€
Lushaba stunned the room when he said that if white people were to give in and give black people the universities, we wouldnâ€
Mlandu, a fallist from UCT, said that education has always meant more that just education. â€œEducation for us as black people has never been neutral.â€ Just take a look at Bantu Education, a weapon the apartheid government had fashioned to use against black people. It was merely for creating adequately educated workers, not successful people. Now, tertiary education is seen as a way out of the vicious cycle of poverty. The subjects that we are taught at higher education institutions, Lushaba pointed out, are a recent creation of a Eurocentric and colonialist origin designed to make capitalism function. They all began in the 16th century when Europe became a modern industrialist society. â€œThere is nothing universal about Western knowledge. It had a need to appear universal.â€
But for a truly decolonised higher education and the spaces that it takes place in, we need to decolonise our modes of thinking, which Chirwa rightly points out are racist, patriarchal, and heteronormative. â€œYou talk about decolonisation, knowing very well that we think of race because of racism and we think in gender because of patriarchy, we think of binary because of heteronormativity. Not because of anything else. Thatâ€
Essentially, rooting out and changing the power dynamics of colonialism is going to be a long, painful process that needs to dig deep into our systems because, Mlandu said, â€œ[We] canâ€