Prof Hlongwa
Prof Nobuhle Hlongwa

Short CV / Biography: Prof Nobuhle Hlongwa

Prof Nobuhle Hlongwa is the Dean and Head of the School of Arts in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is the former Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Humanities (2012-2017). She was the Acting Dean and Head of the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics for six months in 2016. She is the former Acting Deputy Dean of the Undergraduate Studies in the faculty of Humanities, Development and Social Sciences (2010-2011). She is the former Head of the School of isiZulu Studies (2005-2007). She is rated by the National Research Foundation (NRF) as a C2 rated social scientist for five years (2017-2021). She has more than 30 publications including research articles, books, book chapters and conference proceedings. She is the author of a scholarly book entitled “Ukuhlelwa Kolimi” translated as language planning. She is one of the guest editors of three special issues of Alternation Journal. Vol.17,1 2010 with the theme: Multilingualism for access, language development and language intellectualisation; No 13 2014 with the theme: African Languages in South Africa’s Dispensation of Freedom and Democracy; No 18, 2016 with the theme: African Indigenous Knowledge Systems (AIKS) in Mental Health, African Literature, and Education.

She is the member of the Board of Directors of the International Congress of Onomastic Sciences (ICOS). She is a representative of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the Community of Practice for the teaching and learning of African Languages (CoPAL) which forms part of the devolved governance structure of Universities of South Africa (USAF). She was a member of the Ministerial Advisory Panel on the development of African Languages in Higher Education. She completed her first post -doctoral supervision in June 2018. She is a member of the advisory board for the South African Journal of African Languages (SAJAL). She is the Assistant Editor for Alternation journal. She is the reviewer for the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the reviewer for a number of academic journals.

Title of Keynote Address
The role of indigenous African languages in knowledge production, dissemination, and Social transformation

Institutional affiliation: University of KwaZulu-Natal


Historically, higher education in South Africa and Africa in general relied on foreign languages; this has become a basis for social discrimination and inequality. This paper reviews the historical development and current status of indigenous African languages, their intellectualisation, their role in knowledge production, dissemination and social transformation. It argues that, in recognition of the plural and multi-vocal nature of the knowledge domain, the project to develop the indigenous knowledge cannot be meaningfully pursued without taking cognisance of local languages, as it is in these languages that the cognitive, philosophical, and other frameworks of the local people are embedded. Indigenous African languages and indigenous knowledge are critical in addressing social transformation. Using anti-colonial theory and hermeneutics as its theoretical frameworks, the paper discusses the intellectualisation project in South African higher education institutions. Methodologically, this paper relies on a comprehensive review of language practices in higher education in the pre- and post-colonial eras. In particular, the documentary research method was employed, it concludes with recommendations to firmly embed African languages and indigenous knowledge in research within higher education systems.

Prof MA Masoga

Short CV / Biography: Mogomme Alpheus Masoga

Prof Mogomme Alpheus Masoga is an alumnus of the University of the Free State (UFS, South Africa). His doctoral research was entitled: Dimensions of Oracle-Speech in the Near Eastern, Mediterranean and African Contexts: A Contribution towards African Orality. His knowledge research and in particular the indigenous knowledge systems were sharpened by a number of work experiences at senior management level. The latter ranged from managing the South Africa’s National Research Foundation’s Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Education Research Portfolios and the Research Manager at the Indigenous Knowledge Systems, having headed the Historical Sciences School at the University of the North, founded the African Renaissance Center at the University of the North, directed the Research Department of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Religious, Linguistic, Cultural Rights of Communities (CRL Rights Commission), once acted as the Academic Journal Editor at the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), supervisor of postgraduate students and external examiner of postgraduate studies. Professor Masoga is widely published in peer reviewed journals and book chapters. He has been the Research Professor in the School of Human and Social Sciences at both the Universities of Venda and Limpopo and now appointed the Dean of Arts Faculty at the University of Zululand.

Title of Keynote Address
Struggles of frogs amidst dogs, croaking for recognition: African languages, decoloniality, and the Hegemony


The irony captured by this title may cause one to chuckle and cringe a bit. How can frogs croak in the midst of dogs? Would frogs want to be heard as dogs? What is wrong with being a frog, appreciated for your own type of strength and beauty? The fact remains that frogs are not dogs. The South African history of struggle against colonialism and the apartheid regime cannot eschew the fight for recognition of African languages. The alienation and disregard of African languages as languages of science and epistemic pillars were carefully implemented to annihilate and trample on dignity of African masses – thereby rendering local communities in cognito and non-present in their spaces of history, culture, science, knowledge and future. This prevailing paradigm of racialised alienation and exclusion from the centre of the current development discourse has remained notoriously hostile to everything indigenous; especially when the dominant economic, scientific and materialistic views are current priorities. African languages as part of the indigenous agenda tend to be ignored by this dominant paradigm as a regressive form of consciousness because they are seen as hindrances to the development of efficient bureaucratic structures. Verily, decoloniality movements and approaches challenge ‘frogs’ to act as ‘frogs’ and not attempt to act or become something they are not. The paper articulates a deliberate protest and confrontation of this dominant paradigm and pushes for a place of African languages in modern discourse. An intellectual decoloniality agenda is necessary to challenge the current psychological, attitudinal, environmental, organisational, historical and intellectual forces to facilitate comprehensive emancipation and Africanisation of African space, identity and destiny. Decoloniality movements aim to dismantle relations of power and conceptions of knowledge that catalyse the reproduction of racial, gender and geopolitical hierarchies that came into being and claim new and powerful forms of expression. Current policies have not succeeded. Thus, it becomes urgent to confront, agitate, challenge, undo the dominant and assimilative force of colonialism as both a historical and contemporary process, and present the underpinning cultural and epistemological assumptions.

Prof Ndlovu photo April 2019_edited
Prof Sabelo J Ndlovu-Gatsheni

Short CV / Biography: Prof Sabelo J Ndlovu-Gatsheni

Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni is Professor, founding Head of Archie Mafeje Research Institute for Applied Social Policy (AMRI) and currently Acting Executive Director of the Change Management Unit (CMU) in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office at the University of South Africa (UNISA). He is also the founder of the Africa Decolonial Research Network (ADERN) based in at the University of South Africa. He is a National Research Foundation (NRF) rated social scientist; a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf); a Fellow of African Studies Centre (ASC) in the Netherlands; and a Research Associate at the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies at The Open University in the United Kingdom.

Professor Ndlovu-Gatsheni has published over a hundred publications and his major publications include The Ndebele Nation: Reflections on Hegemony, Memory and Historiography (Amsterdam & Pretoria: Rosenberg Publishers & UNISA Press, 2009); Do ‘Zimbabweans’ Exist? Trajectories of Nationalism, National Identity Formation and Crisis in a Postcolonial State (Oxford & Bern: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2009); Redemptive or Grotesque Nationalism? Rethinking Contemporary Politics in Zimbabwe (Oxford & Bern: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2011); Empire, Global Coloniality and African Subjectivity (New York & Oxford: Berghahn Books, June 2013); Coloniality of Power in Postcolonial Africa: Myths of Decolonization (Dakar: CODESRIA, 2013); Nationalism and National Projects in Southern Africa: New Critical Reflections (Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa, 2013); Bondage of Boundaries and Identity Politics in Postcolonial Africa: The ‘Northern Problem’ and Ethno-Futures (Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa, 2013); Mugabeism? History, Politics and Power in Zimbabwe (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, August 2015); Decolonizing the University, Knowledge Systems and Disciplines (North Carolina, Carolina Academic Press, April 2016); The Decolonial Mandela: Peace, Justice and Politics of Life (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, March 2016); Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo of Zimbabwe: Politics, Power and Memory (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017; and Epistemic Freedom in Africa: Deprovincialization and Decolonization (London & New York: Routledge, July 2018).

Title of Keynote Address
Against the Cognitive Empire and Linguicides towards Rehumanisation of Africa through Restoration of Indigenous Languages

Institutional affiliation: Department of Leadership and Transformation (DLT)


The operations of cognitive/metaphysical empire unfolded through invasion of the mental universe of its victims. This is how the cognitive/metaphysical empire became, in the words of Ashis Nandy, an ‘intimate enemy,’ which embodied by its victims. Unlike the physical empire which physically invades territories, conquer people, and subject them to colonial domination and exploitation; the cognitive/metaphysical empire evolves complex but invisible technologies of domination and operates mainly in the discursive sphere where it commits such crimes as colonisation of being, theft of history, epistemicides, culturecides, and linguicides. Its strategies include seduction as it attacks previous African memory, African knowledge and languages; and imposing European memory, knowledge, culture, and colonial languages. This keynote address introduces the concept of the cognitive/metaphysical empire in its endeavour to explain the fate of African humanity in general and African indigenous languages in particular. Unless we clearly understand the logics and operations of the cognitive/metaphysical empire, it would be difficult to explain the complicity of Africans in the linguicides—which makes it very difficult to work effectively towards restoration of African indigenous languages on a people who belittle everything African and indigenous. The keynote proceeds to analyse the politics of African consciousness formation under colonial rule and reveals its postcolonial pitfalls which are a consequence of the operations and logics of the cognitive/metaphysical empire. The third part of the keynote turns to the existing thinking on indigenous languages which emerged concurrently with the unfolding of African decolonisation of the twentieth century with scholars like Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Wole Soyinka and Kwesi Prah leading the discourses. The last part of the keynote turn to the decolonisation of the twenty-first century, which is intersecting with the digital age driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as it assesses the prospects of rehumanisation through restoration of indigenous languages. It underscores the fundamental importance of decolonial consciousness as an essential prerequisite for restoration of indigenous languages.

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