FCAL Academics Unpack Issue of Decolonisation During Workshop

| A node for African thought

FCAL Academics Unpack Issue of Decolonisation During Workshop

FCAL Academics Unpack Issue of Decolonisation During Workshop

The Faculty of Commerce, Administration and Law (FCAL) debuted its leg of the Workshop on Node for African Thought series on Tuesday, 16 April 2024.

This is a series of workshops that are being held for academics in the University of Zululand’s (UNIZULU) four faculties, with the aim of reinforcing the institution’s position to cement itself as a distinctively African university.

FCAL’s three-day workshop follows that of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences’ which took place in March. Day one of FCAL’s programme was characterised by a healthy discussion among the attendees, inspired by a presentation on the contemporary politics of knowledge which was presented by Professor Sipho Seepe, Higher Education and Strategy Consultant.

Quoting Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the professor read: “Prescription of the correct cure is dependent on a rigorous analysis of the reality.” This, he elaborated, was tantamount to saying that it is essential to properly diagnose and describe a problem before a cure can be prescribed. It became apparent that by first revisiting colonialism – interrogating the system and its damning effects – Africans would then be able to determine and implement appropriate measures to decolonize their minds, knowledge and other systems of life.

Using various quotes by prominent figures such as Martinican poet, author, and politician Aime Cesaire and Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong’o, Prof Seepe defined colonialism as “a historical phenomenon and an ideological construct whose main features were genocides, exploitations and domination and repression”. He added that this system “disrupted the cultural identity” of Africans and that life was disfigured in the hope of final destruction.

He further expressed that despite the advent of democracy in the continent, there persists a psychological entrapment among Africans; a mindset that still renders anything Western superior. Prof Seepe used Jonty Steinberg’s to emphasise his points, quoting: “The freedom South Africans acquired in 1994 was mercurial and slippery. Politically, the changes were dramatic. The electrorate expanded overnight to include every adult. But the structure of society stayed much the same. And white people remained white people, doing what white people had always done: running the professions, the corporations, the universities. Expertise, wealth, technical knowledge, social confidence – all of these remained deeply associated with whiteness.”

With its Vision 2027 strategic plan, UNIZULU thus seeks to move from a colonial past to a democratic path without the remnants of the past, Prof Seepe clarified.

According to Professor Byron Brown, Director of Research and Innovation, “Prof Seepe’s presentation provided a thrust to make a strong delink from the western approach and change our way of thinking”. He highlighted that with the decolonisation project, UNIZULU is seeking to “defrost, deactivate and unfreeze”.

The issue of psychological entrapment was a key take-home for FCAL Dean Professor Lorraine Greyling.

She assured that FCAL is committed to ensuring that the decolonial project is realised within UNIZULU, adding that she was passionate about changing the lives of her students.

For more on what transpired during day one of the FCAL workshop, kindly click o the following links:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqtnFjCptD4
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Am2Ny6bwgEQ
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TDWW0Az07U

  • Naledi Hlefane


Professor Sipho Seepe