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Discussion on decolonising the UFS draws international speakers
2017-11-07


During an insightful two days (27-28 October 2017), bright young minds and experienced thinkers came together at the University of the Free State (UFS) to engage in deep philosophical talks on the topic of decolonisation.  The event was hosted by the university’s Centre for Africa Studies and the Department of Philosophy.

Heavyweight thinkers
Attendees to this colloquium were treated to the thoughts of renowned academics from various social sciences disciplines, including: Prof Francis B. Nyamnjoh, University of Cape Town; Prof Henning Melber, Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, Nordic Africa Institute, University of London, University of Pretoria and the UFS; Prof Heidi Hudson, UFS; Prof Sabelo J Ndlovu-Gatsheni, University South Africa; Alida Kok, Unisa; and from the UFS Prof Johann Rossouw, Dr Stephanie Cawood, Dr Christian Williams, and Khanya Motshabi. All the speakers had extensive global experience that allowed them to use practical examples to illustrate theoretical ideas. These ranged from students removing colonial spirits with African rituals, incorporating indigenous knowledge systems in curricula, to the creation of cultural houses on campuses where students can become acquainted with different cultures in a safe space.  

 

 Description: Decolonising colloquium bigger Tags: Decolonising colloquium bigger

Questions from attendees at the recent colloquium on decolonising the university,
hosted by the Centre for Africa Studies and the Departement of Philosophy,
showed a search for solutions to the current decolonising dilemma.
Photo: Charl Devenish


Where to from here?
Questions from attendees showed a search for solutions to the current decolonising dilemma. How will it look? Is it possible? Has it worked anywhere? During the two days, it became clear that colonialism reaches far and deep, rendering decolonisation a complex problem that should be addressed carefully to avoid greater divisions. “Colonisers and colonised are two sides of a coin,” Prof Melber explained. “Essentially it means that we are part of the same coin.” This metaphor illustrated how there is no right or wrong world view, or right or wrong knowledge – there should, however, be an integrated approach suitable for that “one coin”. 

It starts at home
Successful decolonisation starts in the mind, it was agreed. Colonisation robbed us all of a richness of knowledge by offering absolutes, or “the only truths”. Questioning existing colonial knowledge and exploring other bodies of knowledge will ultimately lead to a new world of knowledge. Being mediators between the different worlds of knowledge is what the new generation of academics needs to become.  

 

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