Dr Ndlovu said celebrating diversity in the current political state, is when we start to acknowledge that Africa is central to itself and to the rest of the world.
“Africa shares this history of colonialisation, which shaped our political identities. As diverse Africa we take that to affirm ourselves to define the future that is wanted by us, as diverse people of Africa who share experiences, history of colonialism which we all share.”
Professor Mahlomaholo added that celebrating Africanness in education is by making more visible the practices of excellence that come from African continent. “There are so many achievements that people of Africa had made in terms of better educational practices, discoveries in the sciences, human and social sciences.
“So through education we try to put them to the fore so that we can become aware that we have made these significant strides in every facet of human endevour and that Africa has been a force to be reckoned with,” he expained.
The Language Issue
How do we decolonise education without speaking of laungage? Ms Bhuda said that language is a small aspect when it comes to decolonising.
Culture and Heritage lecturer Ms Thulisile Bhuda.
“We talk about transforming the curriculum and when we decolonise it doesn’t mean that we move away from Western knowing, it means that we are saying that everything that makes us African should be part of the curriculum.
“A child who is Ndebele and learning about AmaNdebele culture, that knowledge has to be part of the curriculum. Some aspects of who we are has to be features in some subjects.”
Ms Bhuda continued that subjects such as Mathematiics, which is used at home in beadwork and art murals that uses symetrical geometry should be part of the curriculum.
“Childen should learn geometry at home because elders use the shapes in the mural walls and bead work. Therefore when its taught at sschools children can relate to it because its something they know.
Our cultural background should be part of the curriculum and that starts with decolonising the content. African people existed before colonialism. Africa was never in stone age. Africa had its own civiliazation long before colonialism. We have an abandonment of our craft in Europe and the countires, proving early civilisation,” she said.
Decolonisng the Curriculum
Dr Ndlovu said political education has a central role to play in being part of efforts and struggles to decolonise Africa. She further stated that the process starts with relearning what we learnt, especially the theft of history.
Political Studies lecturer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu.
“Africa has been portrayed as a continent without history and the curriculum we were all fed was borders around colonialisation because in Eurocentic terms Africa has been portrayed as people without history or knowledge.
But a day like Africa Day where people from diverse African content remember their Africaness. It is vital that we become cautious of the theft of our history.”
Professor Mehlomaholo added that things that were generated in Africa for instance research has been about what Africans think and portrays the researcher as the most important person.
“The research instrument questions and other things such as interview schedules. The concept of participation and the methodology used should be decolonised,” he said.
Thulisile Bhuda added that decolonising research, would mean Africans writing and representing their own research.
“They should be at the centre of research, conduct our own and our people become knowledge holders, participants and not subjects.”
She added: “We are learning from elders and not there as officials. We are there when they are transmitting this knowledge to us and we are there humbing ourselves to get the knowledge, and because of who we are and how we do things we want to participate as indegenious researchers and participants, learning this knowledge and try to document it.”
Professor Mahlomaholo added that there is transformation as researchers are now working together with the policy makers, as the research methodology are finding their way in the mainstream of doing research and documenting it.
“Collaboration with schools, department of education are working together on issues such as the use of mother tongue so that we may see grade 12 writing chemistry in their mother language because research demonstrates that when children learn in their African languages, they can perfom better.
Dr Ndlovu said Africa does not exist in isolation, it is central to itself but takes into cognisance of what is happening around the world. “To the rest of the world, we have influence as a united Africa not just in politics but in socio-economic aspects.”
Decolonising our households, Ms Bhuda said parents are imposing English at home. Children need to understand and speak english to accommodate others and that is what they have over us.
Prof Mehlomaholo literacy levels at schools have dropped, what has set us back is the few challenges showing that South Africa does not perfom could have been the result of our history. Our knowledge at schools have been presented in a fashion that makes learners believe that schooling belongs to Europe.
“But now there is awareness that we are the custodians of. We educators have to find ways of linking knowledge at home so that when they come at schools they do not have to be transisitioning. Using their home languages to address their aspirations and fears. Their experiences should also be reflected in the curriculum.
Its not entirely children who have to be, we have to make it possible for them to succeed by ensuriing that the curriculm we teach is relevant so that they find it interesting.”
The dialogue kick-started a series of Africa Day activies which were held at the University of Mpumalanga Mbombela campus, including a lecture by Prof Samba Buri Mboup from Senegal.
Other acivities by students: demonstrations by countries and food from around the continent: Rwanda, Lesotho, Kenya Moroccoe, DRC and Senegal.
@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures supplied.