Shake the dust

19 May 2015

Shake the dust

As you're walking up the stairs passing through the centre of Bremner, towards Archie Mafeje Room, at your back is a display cabinet of chalkboard dusters. 175 of them, to be exact.

Gathered from classrooms across the university's campuses, and tagged with details of their venue of origin, these dusters are meant to stand for the 175 years between the founding of the South African College in 1829 – the school that would eventually become UCT – to the date of their collection in 2004.

These dusty objects – collected by Pippa Skotnes, Fritha Langerman and Gwen van Embden as part of a project to curate the university, and culminating in the exhibition, Curiosity CLXXV – prompt questions about the core of the university project: knowledge.

They seem to ask: what knowledge has been chalked up, layer upon layer, on university blackboards over the years – before the advent of whiteboards and powerpoints, but also in the era of clickers, pointers and video lectures on Vula? What knowledge has been erased?

It seemed an apt image to open our May edition of Monday Monthly, which makes space for the next phase of transformation discussions, following on Rhodes' relocation in early April. Since then, a great deal of debate on campus has turned to decolonisation – what does it mean to decolonise knowledge, the curriculum, ourselves or the university, and how is it done? We've tried to cover as many of these public debates on campus as possible, and also gone out in search of additional opinions.

Questions of what an African knowledge project looks like leads into our next feature – a profile of postgraduate research from Africa and about Africa, curated in time for Africa Day.

Finally, we close the May edition with the first in a more human-centred series. Through it, we hope to get to know the people of UCT a little better – not just for what they do, but also who they are. We hope it has a similar effect on you.

Thinking about chalky remains, the changing nature of what we know (or think we know), and how the people around us shape how we think of ourselves, we leave you with May's edition. May it gather no dust.

The Newsroom Team

Monday Monthly

Monday Monthly started out in 1982 as a weekly staff newsletter. Since then, it's grown into a monthly publication covering a broad variety of campus life – from research, to student initiatives, to human interest. If you have an interesting perspective on the university, or a great story to tell (whether in words, pictures or any other medium), mail us at If you're looking to advertise in the classifieds, or subscribe to our mailing list, drop us a line at For general information, contact Sharifa Martin at 021 650 5816.

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