Find the points of intersection

05 January 2015

Ali Sayed
Postgraduate social sciences student

In the context of UCT, decolonising the university - more than just getting rid of the shackles of the past, so to speak - would also be engaging with the points of intersection [of Africa and the West]. It's not totally about getting rid of the shackles and getting rid of the past.

We'll see that there's no such thing as an exclusively African or exclusively European way of thinking or teaching. What exists is a combination of the two at points such as UCT, where they meet. So decolonising means acknowledging the intersectionality or the commonness between the two, and how each contributes to the development of both.

A perfect example would be a slave sitting with his master. For me and you, we'd see a masterslave relationship; but at the end of the day, what was happening was the exchange of ideas.

In terms of curriculum, building a curriculum that highlights those intersectionalities [is something the university can do]. For example, when teaching the slave trade, when teaching the growth of the empire, teach it from the perspective of - or make the student aware that there were - multiple interactions.

Young graduates with a lived experience of this institution are going to be in the best position to inform the people who are going to be in their position in a few years' time. The best way forward is to involve students themselves to take things forward. Of course, students also have a responsibility.

Kwame Anthony Appiah uses the term 'metropole of intersection' in his book In My Father's House. I see UCT as a metropole of intersection of the decolonised mindset and the colonised mindset. It speaks about masculinity, but I read it more as a political statement. So this movement of creating this exclusively 'decolonised' mindset versus the exclusively 'colonised' mindset - in his opinion, it doesn't exist. What we actually have are metropoles of intersection, and UCT is a shining example of this. So it's a nice place to be at this time! had just discovered them. A decolonised university would allow us to understand that conversations and theorisations about decolonisation have a strong foothold in Latin America, in Native American thought and in various traditions of South Asian thought, and that they have transformed other academies on the very continent on which we find ourselves. We cannot be an African university, a worldclass university, when to think about Africa is to think about South Africa.

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Monday Monthly

Volume 34 Edition 04

25 May 2015

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