“Decolonisation” and “Africanisation” of Knowledge: Politico-Ideological or Educational Concepts?


This paper argues that decolonisation and Africanisation of the curriculum are problematic concepts that appeal more to political sentiments than present an academic discourse. First, the concept of decolonisation is used in a narrow sense relating only to the effects of the post- Berlin Conference of 1884 and similar forms of subjection of indigenous peoples to foreign domination and excludes other forms of colonisation, the subjugation of the other, which manifests in elite, class, gender and other forms of segmental colonisation.   Secondly, the simultaneous use of decolonisation and Africanisation as transformation is inappropriate because the two do not lead to the same result.  Besides adopting a narrow conception of decolonisation, Africanisation of the curriculum is just as chauvinistic in practice as colonisation itself; and also fails to distinguish between the normative and epistemic dimensions of knowledge production.   While not denying the role of the sociology of knowledge in epistemology, the paper maintains that one cannot decolonise or Africanise the curriculum and still retain both the colonial framework and the substantive structure.  That would be simply engaging in semantics and not in substance. The paper further maintains that scholarship and knowledge production are universal practices; and Africa has made serious contributions to knowledge and scholarship outside of the discourse of decolonisation and Africanisation.   Therefore, while both concepts might appeal to sentiment, practically they are unimaginable. A more appropriate conceptualisation would be “internationalisation and advancing Africa’s contribution to the global movement for change in the academy, and by extension in the curriculum.”

Keywords: Knowledge, africanisation, decolonisation, politico-ideological educational concepts

DOI: https://doi.org/10.37745/bje.2023/vol11n14553

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 45-53 (Download PDF)

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