University of South Africa: Unisan earns doctoral degree in African Studies

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Gogo Aubrey Matshiqi presented a thought-provoking address about the epistemic nutrition practices of an African university in honour of Sanusi Credo Vusamazulu Mutwa. He noted that the topic of epistemic nutrition was chosen because of a suspicion that universities in this country and the rest of Africa are running the risk of not being “in Africa” in a more holistic sense. He said that universities fall short of feeding us an African diet in epistemic terms. “We are called to ask questions such as: Who named us? Why and from which stance or perception did this naming take place?” He further asked: “Did we name ourselves? Did we name this continent Africa? If the answer is that we did not name ourselves and the continent, what then does it mean to be African? What does it mean to be an African university? Is there a university which should not be African?”

Mashiqi said modernity brought colonisation, which led some to believe that Africans were lesser humans and that our knowledge was not valuable. “This also resulted in the assumption that Africans do not have the capacity to grasp and create knowledge,” he said. “These dynamics resulted in notions that the coloniser can colonise God, the body, time, space, place and nature in a violent way,” added Mashiqi. “We can conclude that we are victims of epistemic violence. In our country, the dominant reality is a European reality. This reality manifests in knowledge found in schools, universities, popular culture, media and other platforms,” he argued.

The task of epistemic nutrition partly begins with examining and re-examining the question of what constitutes being an African and, by extension, what being an African university means. The answers relate to the scientific claim that Africa is the cradle of humankind. This engaged scholarship project of the College of Graduate Studies acts as a response to the epistemic violence of the colonised subject. Part of its mandate is to decolonise the university and Africanise it. Marking the relevance of the indaba, the opening and welcome address was delivered by Dr Genevieve James, who spoke about the need to advance knowledge derived from the Global South. She said: “An African university should reflect African memories, experiences, lamentations and solutions.”

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