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POLITICS POLITICS

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he fundamental question which universalising coloniality as a natural context the very moment they step
has consistently cried out for a state of the world. It must be unmasked, into the school, church, and university
response throughout the Global resisted and destroyed because it door. They begin the painful path of
South/Third World as an epistemic produced a world order that can only learning to hate their progenitors as
site that experienced the ‘darker be sustained through a combination demons, they begin to be taught that
side’ of modernity is that of how to of violence, deceit, hypocrisy and all the knowledge they possessed
extricate (ex)-colonised peoples from lies. This unmasking and resistance before coming to school was nothing
coloniality. African countries are entails decoloniality as a political-cum- but folk knowledges, barbarism and
prominent in this group of nations. epistemological liberatory project. superstitions that must be quickly be
Africa has experienced the slave Decoloniality is born out of a forgotten. They begin to be told that
trade, imperialism, colonialism, realisation that ours is an asymmetrical speaking mother-tongue is a sign of
apartheid, neo-colonialism, neo- world order that is sustained not only being primitive. In some schools direct
liberalism (Washington Consensus and by colonial matrices of power but also punishments were inflicted on those
Structural Adjustment Programmes), by pedagogies and epistemologies of who spoke ‘mother-tongue’ within
and today globalisation. Taken equilibrium that continue to produce school premises. Preachers, teachers,
together, these processes constitute alienated Africans who are socialised and lecturers produced by colonially-
coloniality as a global power structure into hating the Africa that produced constructed institutions exist as lost
that sustains asymmetrical power them, and liking the Europe and America children of coloniality.
relations between the Euro-American that rejects them. Schools, colleges, Decoloniality is premised on
World and the Global South. three concepts. The first concept
Coloniality is a leitmotif of global is that of coloniality of power. It
imperial designs that has been in Endogenous helps to investigate how the current
place for centuries. Decolonisation did and indigenous ‘global political’ was constructed and
not succeed in removing coloniality. constituted into the asymmetrical and
knowledges have been

Why Decoloniality
Coloniality must not be confused with modern power structure. It delves
colonialism. It survived the end of pushed to the margins deeper into how the world was
bifurcated into ‘Zone of Being’ and
direct colonialism. In ‘postcolonies’ it
continues to affect the lives of people,
of society. Africa is ‘Zone of Non-Being’ maintained by
long after direct colonialism and today saddled with invisible ‘abyssal lines.’ What needs

in the 21st Century?


administrative apartheid have been irrelevant knowledge to be understood is how modernity
dethroned. What, therefore, needs to deposited its fruits of progress,
be understood is not just the ‘not yet that disempowers civilisation, modernisation and
uhuru’ postcolonial experience but rather than empowers development to the Euro-American
the invisible vampirism of technologies world (Zone of Being) while at the
of imperialism and colonial matrices individuals and same time imposing the slave trade,
of power that continue to exist in communities. imperialism, colonialism and apartheid
the minds, lives, languages, dreams, into the non-Euro-American world (the
imaginations, and epistemologies of churches and universities in Africa are Zone of Non-Being).
modern subjects in Africa and the sites for reproduction of coloniality. We The second concept is that of
entire global South. so far do not have African universities. coloniality of knowledge, which focuses
Coloniality as a power structure, an We have universities in Africa. They on teasing out epistemological issues,
epochal condition, and epistemological continue to poison African minds politics of knowledge generation as well
design, lies at the centre of the with research methodologies and as questions of who generates which
present world order that Ramon inculcate knowledges of equilibrium. knowledge, and for what purpose.
Grosfoguel correctly described as a These are knowledges that do not African Studies frequently neglects
racially hierarchised, imperialistic, question methodologies as well as the to conduct serious investigations
colonialist, Euro-American-centric, present asymmetrical world order. In into the origins of disciplines, into
Christian-centric, hetero-normative, decoloniality research methods and epistemicides, into how knowledge
What Africans must be vigilant against is the trap of ending up normalising patriarchal, violent and modern world research methodologies are never has been used to assist imperialism and
order that emerged since the so-called accepted as neutral but are unmasked colonialism and into how knowledge
and universalising coloniality as a natural state of the world. It must be ‘discovery’ of the ‘New World’ by as technologies of subjectivation if has remained Euro-American-
unmasked, resisted and destroyed because it produced a world order Christopher Columbus. At the centre
of coloniality is race as an organising
not surveillance tools that prevent
the emergence of another-thinking,
centric. Endogenous and indigenous
knowledges have been pushed to
that can only be sustained through a combination of violence, deceit, principle that hierarchised human another-logic and another-world view. the margins of society. Africa is today
beings according to notions and Research methodologies are tools of saddled with irrelevant knowledge that
hypocrisy and lies. binaries of primitive vs. civilised, and gate-keeping. disempowers rather than empowers
developed vs. underdeveloped. What What is even more disturbing is that individuals and communities.
Africans must be vigilant against is the African children and youth begin a The third concept is that of
By Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni trap of ending up normalising and journey of alienation from their African coloniality of being. The starting point

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POLITICS POLITICS

black people is doubted and emerges nation, which makes such a nation
of this perspective is the role played indictment, European civilisation sum’ to privilege ‘men’ in masculine
as one way of telling the story of the
To fully an empire. Coloniality, instead,
by philosophers like Rene Descartes has suffered a series of trials and gender terms, as the fountain of all
and the long term implications of questioning, beginning with decolonial knowledge about the world. modern world from the experiences of understand refers to long-standing patterns of
his motto ‘Cogito ergo sum‘ (I think, struggles that were premised on The leading Portuguese sociologist slavery, imperialism, and colonialism. and appreciate power that emerged as a result of
colonialism, but that define culture,
therefore, I am) on conceptions of rejecting colonialism as a medium of and decolonial thinker Boaventura de It is not the only way of articulating
subjectivity. What is at issue here is the modernity and civilisation. The modern Sousa Santos clearly articulated how the history of the construction of the decoloniality as a labour, intersubjectivity relations,
pertinent question of how whiteness problems ranged widely from those of the human space was divided into two modern world. What distinguishes it is liberatory option, and knowledge production well
gained ontological density far above ecological destruction, climate change, zones: ‘Zone of Being’ and ‘Zone of its starting point, which is coloniality. beyond the strict limits of colonial
blackness as well as how the notions global migration that is provoking Non-Being.’ Santos provides details Decoloniality entails studying Africa it is important to administrations. Thus, coloniality
of ‘I think, therefore I am’ mutated new racism and xenophobia, right up of how Western thinking operated as as a product of 350 years of struggles clearly distinguish survives colonialism. It is maintained
against slavery in the first instance and alive in books, in the criteria for
into ‘I conquer, therefore, I am’ and its
production of ‘coloniser and colonised’
to increasing inequalities, deepening
poverty and the crisis of Euro-American
‘abyssal thinking’ consisting of ‘a system
of visible and invisible distinctions, against coloniality today. it from colonialism, academic performance, in cultural
articulation of subjectivity and being. hegemonic epistemologies. the visible ones being the foundation decolonisation, and patterns, in common sense, in the
What is decoloniality? self-image of peoples, in aspirations
Coloniality of being is very important To fully appreciate the gravity of of the invisible ones.’4 Those
Decoloniality ‘struggles to bring
coloniality. of self, and so many other aspects of
because it assists in investigating how the current multi-dimensional crisis, people like Africans and others who
African humanity was questioned as we must remember the promises experienced colonisation: their realm into intervening existence an-other our modern experience. In a way,
well as processes that contributed of Euro-American modernity to was re-constituted by technologies of interpretation that brings forward, on that was used to describe the as modern subjects we breathe
towards ‘objectification’/’thingificatio humanity. In the first place, is the fact power and colonial matrices of power the one hand, a silenced view of the withdrawal of direct colonialism coloniality all the time and every
n’/‘commodification’ of Africans. One that historically modernity promised into an incomprehensible state of event and, on the other, shows the from the colonies as well as the day.9
of the continuing struggles in Africa is civilisation that was founded on the being. The possibility of co-presence limits of imperial ideology disguised struggles ranged against those Coloniality is a name for the ‘darker
focused on resisting objectification. Cartesian notion of ‘I think, therefore, or peaceful co-existence of those in as the true (total) interpretation of empires that were reluctant to do side’ of modernity that needs to be
These three concepts enable the zone of being with those in the the events’ in the making of the so. In Sub-Saharan Africa, South unmasked because it exists as ‘an
modern world.7 Decoloniality is Africa became the last colony to embedded logic that enforces control,
a deeper understanding of the Decoloniality zone of non-being was rendered
distinguished from an imperial version decolonise in 1994 from an internal domination, and exploitation disguised
construction of current modern world impossible. The end product of all this
that is today besieged by a plethora of arises from this were colonial discourses and negative of history through its push for shifting form of white colonialism called in the language of salvation, progress,
of geography of reason from the West apartheid. Decolonisation became modernization, and being good for
crises. Even non-decolonial thinkers like context in which the representations of black people as
as the epistemic locale from which the a historical process that was enabled everyone.’10
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri who being characterised by a catalogue
produced the celebrated book entitled humanity of black of deficits and series of lacks that led ‘world is described, conceptualised and by the emergence of the United Walter D. Mignolo argued that
Empire (2000) acknowledged that people is doubted and Ramon Grosfoguel, a leading Latin ranked’ to the ex-colonised epistemic
sites as legitimate points of departure
Nations sovereignty and its global
constitutionalism that embraced
‘Coloniality names the experiences
and views of the world and history of
‘the international order that European American thinker and theorist, to
modernity continually proposed and emerges as one way present the trajectory of those closed in describing the construction of the postcolonial states. those whom Fanon called les damnes
re-proposed, at least since the Peace of telling the story of out of the ‘Zone of Being’ as unfolding modern world order.8 de la terre (‘the wretched of the earth’)
of Westphalia, is now in crisis. It has in in this way: To fully understand and appreciate Coloniality: those who have been, and continue
fact always been in crisis, and this crisis
the modern world from “We went from the sixteenth decoloniality as a liberatory option, Nelson Maldonado-Torres, a to be, subjected to the standard of
has been one of the motors that have the experiences of century characterization of it is important to clearly distinguish it leading philosopher in decolonial modernity.’11
continuously pushed towards Empire.’1 from colonialism, decolonisation, and thought, grapples with the meaning Mignolo elaborated on the meaning
The Colombian anthropologist
slavery, imperialism, ‘people without writing’ to the
eighteenth and nineteenth century coloniality. of coloniality and this is how he of the wretched of the earth in this
and leading decolonial thinker Arturo and colonialism. characterization of ‘people without defined it: way: ‘The wretched are defined by
Escobar whose well-known work history,’ to the twentieth century Colonialism: Coloniality is different from the colonial wound, and the colonial
Encountering Development: The Making I am,’ which for Africa and other parts characterization of ‘people without Colonialism is a historical process colonialism. Colonialism denotes a wound, physical and/or psychological,
and Unmaking of the Third World, of the colonised world, mutated into ‘I development’ and more recently, that culminated in the invasion, political and economic relation in is a consequence of racism, the
notes that the current global crisis conquer, therefore, I am’, which was to the early twenty first century of conquest, and direct administration which the sovereignty of a nation or a hegemonic discourse that questions
emanates from the reality of modernity used to justify mercantilism, the slave ‘people without democracy.’”5 of Africa by states like Spain, people rests on the power of another the humanity of all those who do not
which created ‘modern problems for trade, imperialism, colonialism and During the same period, those in Portugal, Britain, and France for belong to the locus of enunciation
purposes of enhancing their prestige (and the geo-politics of knowledge)
which there are no modern solutions.’2 other dangerous ‘isms.’ The second the ‘Zone of Being’ were systematically
as empires, for exploitation of
Decoloniality is of those who assign the standard of
The crisis of Western civilisation was point is that sociologically, modernity gaining more and more fruits of
noticed long ago by one of the early promised new institutions such as the modernity from sixteenth century natural and human resources and not a singular classification and assign to themselves
export of excess population, for the the right to classify.’
decolonial thinkers, Aime Cesaire, modern nation-state as the best model ‘rights of people,’ to eighteenth
benefit of the empire. Colonialism
theoretical school of What distinguishes decoloniality
who in his Discourse on Colonialism of human organisation. century ‘rights of man,’ and to the
proclaimed that: The third point is that culturally, late twentieth century ‘human rights.’6 as a historical process came to an thought, but a family from other existing critical social theories
A civilization that proves incapable modernity worked to banish What was happening is that the end in the post-1945 period that
witnessed the withdrawal of direct
of diverse positions is its locus of enunciations and its
genealogy - which is outside of Europe.
of solving the problems it creates is a religious thinking and spiritualism Anglo-Saxons and their descendants
decadent civilization. A civilization and replaced these with rational were increasingly consolidating their colonial administrations and with that share a view Decoloniality can be best understood
that chooses to close its eyes to its and expert knowledge capable of ontological density while Africans and those that were reluctant to do so of coloniality as the as a pluriversal epistemology of the
most crucial problems is a stricken rationalising life-world with a view to those of African descent resident in facing confrontation from national future - a redemptive and liberatory
civilization. A civilization that uses its overcome all those cultural obstacles the Diaspora were losing ontological liberation movements. fundamental epistemology that seeks to de-link from
principles of trickery and deceit is a to human trajectories. Finally, there weight. problem in the the tyranny of abstract universals.12
Decolonisation: Decoloniality informs the ongoing
dying civilization.3
From the time of Cesaire’s
is the philosophical aspect in which
modernity built on the ‘cogito ergo
Decoloniality arises from this
context in which the humanity of Decolonisation was a term modern age. struggles against inhumanity of the

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Cartesian subject, ‘the irrationality of The poverty of postmodern- long as coloniality exists and as long His call for ‘internationalization’ of endeavour to attain cognitive justice. of another world and knowledge. At
the rational, the despotic residues of postcolonial critique as African ontology is doubted and African scholarship as a way of ‘getting Rationality and technology have not the epistemic level decoloniality is
modernity.’13 The postmodern and postcolonial ridiculed decoloniality in its various out of the ghetto’ was equated with completely managed to overcome all about epistemological disobedience
critique of nationalism, Marxism and forms will continue to reverberate and ‘globalizing tendencies of neo-liberal obstacles to human freedom. premised on three domains of
Why decoloniality in the 21st decoloniality is informed by a deep be ‘repeated over and over again’ by economic policies of liberalization.’22 At another level decoloniality power, knowledge, and being. At the
century? misunderstanding of how the modern nationalists and Marxists’.19 The point was that the domain involves re-telling of history of political level, it is working in areas
The direct answer comes from world was constituted and how it works. Postmodernists and some of knowledge generation in and on humanity and knowledge from the of new critical theory, new meaning-
Ramon Grosfoguel who argued that: Such celebrated scholars as Achille postcolonial theorists are surprising Africa has never been ‘ghettoised.’ It vantage point of those epistemic making and action. At the
One of the most powerful Mbembe and Kwame Anthony Appiah in blaming those people who were has never been closed from external sites that received the ‘darker side’ methodological level, it rebels against
myths of the twentieth century manifest this misunderstanding which and still are victims of the ‘dark side’ influences and currents of thoughts. of modernity, including re-telling the knowledges of equilibrium and those
was the notion that the elimination makes them very critical of any critical of modernity for continuing to blame Instead it has been excessively exposed story of knowledge generation as methods that operate as part of
of colonial administrations thought that builds its case from the slavery, imperialism, colonialism, to external and imported Euro- involving borrowings, appropriations, colonial matrices of power that prevent
amounted to the decolonization reality of colonialism, coloniality and apartheid, dependence, and American paradigms. This makes the epistemicides, and denials of humanity transformation.
of the world. This led to the myth racism. They wrongly criticised African globalisation for the production of case for decoloniality relevant, which of other people as part of the story In our modest terms, we are pushing
of a ‘postcolonial’ world. The scholars, particularly those whose postcolonial problems. To characterise pushes the agenda of decolonising of science. It is also a call for the decolonial thinking as Africa Decolonial
heterogeneous and multiple global thinking is informed by nationalism genuine people’s pains inflicted by knowledge. Mbembe was further Research Network (ADERN) based at
structures put in place over a period and Marxism, for being enclosed inside these inimical processes as an ‘old criticised for surrendering to the
triumphalist ideology of globalisation
The postmodern UNISA. The newly established Archie
Mafeje Research Institute (AMRI)’s
of 450 years did not evaporate with an intellectual ghetto from which refrain’ informed by unproductive
the juridical-political decolonization they articulate false philosophies.16 and misguided intellectual exercise and the disempowering slogan ‘There and postcolonial research work is also informed by
of the periphery over the past 50 The reality is that postmodern and born out of the peddling of essentialist Is No Alternative’ (TINA) doctrine. critique of decoloniality. Our plan is to host an
years. We continue to live under the postcolonial theorists totally failed to discourses of autochthony and annual Summer School at Archie Mafeje
same ‘colonial power matrix.’ With understand that modernity had two authenticity, is mischievous and Rebutting postmodern and nationalism, Marxism Research Institute to expose students
juridical-political decolonization faces, particularly that the progressive dishonest. Coloniality is still active and postcolonial critique of decoloniality and decoloniality is and young academics to decolonial
we moved from a period of ‘global inflicting pain and death on Africans. Decoloniality must not be confused thinking, the politics of knowledge
informed by a deep
colonialism’ to the current period At the core of What is seen as the ‘self-ghettoisation’ with nationalist and Marxist thought. generation as well as power, identity
of ‘global coloniality.’ Although of African scholarship, taking the form Decoloniality is against essentialism misunderstanding of and epistemological issues at the centre
‘colonial administrations’ have been decoloniality is the of ‘territorialisation of the production and fundamentalism as put by of the modern world order. 
how the modern world
almost entirely eradicated and the agenda of shifting of knowledge’, is in fact a genuine Grosfoguel: “This is not an essentialist,
majority of the periphery is politically effort to counter imperialist thought fundamentalist, anti-European critique. was constituted and References

the geography Hardt, M. and Negri, A. 2000. Empire. Cambridge:


1

It is a perspective that is critical of Harvard University Press.


organised into independent that pushes African knowledges to the how it works. 2
Escobar, A. 2004. ‘Beyond the Third World: Imperial
states, non-European people are and biography of margins of society. Africa is a victim both Eurocentric and Third World Globality, Global Coloniality and Anti-Globalization
Social Movements.’ Third World Quarterly, 25 (1), p.
still living under crude European/ of externally generated knowledges fundamentalisms, colonialism and
Euro-American exploitation and
knowledge - who that are not informed by geo-and bio- nationalism. What all fundamentalisms democratisation of knowledge, 3
207.
Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism, p. 8.

generates knowledge Grosfoguel, ‘The Epistemic Decolonial Turn: Beyond


4

domination. The old colonial graphical contextual understanding share (including the Eurocentric one) de-hegemonisation of knowledge, Political-Economy Paradigms.’Cultural Studies, 21
is the premise that there is only one de-westernisation of knowledge, and
and from where? of the African condition. But scholars
hierarchies of European versus non- (2-3), March/May, p. 214.
5
Ibid.
Europeans remain in place and are like Mbembe deliberately distort this sole epistemic tradition from which to de-Europeanisation of knowledge. 6
Mignolo, W. D. 2005. The Idea of Latin America,
entangled with the ‘international intervention and cast it as promotion of achieve Truth and Universality.”23 At the core of decoloniality is the Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, p. 33
7
Ibid, p. 35.
division of labour’ and accumulation rhetoric of modernity including a ‘false belief that only autochthonous As noted by Nelson Maldonado- agenda of shifting the geography 8
Maldonado-Torres, N. 2007. ‘On Coloniality of Being:
Contributions to the Development of a Concept.’
of capital at a world-scale. 14 liberal democracy and human rights people who are physically living in Torres decoloniality is not a singular and biography of knowledge - who Cultural Studies, 21 (2-3), March/May, p. 243.
Decoloniality announces the broad discourses help in hiding coloniality as Africa can produce, within a closed theoretical school of thought, but a generates knowledge and from where? 9
Mignolo, The Idea of Latin America, p. 6.
10
Ibid, p. 8.
‘decolonial turn’ that involves the the negative side of modernity. circle limited to themselves alone, family of diverse positions that share a Decoloniality’s point of departure 11
Ibid, p. 8.
‘task of the very decolonization of What they identify as false a legitimate scientific discourse on view of coloniality as the fundamental is existential realities of suffering, 12
Mignolo, W. D. 2007. ‘Introduction: Coloniality of
Power and De-Colonial Thinking.’ Cultural Studies, 21
knowledge, power and being, including philosophies that they name as the realities of the continent.’20 problem in the modern age. Yes, oppression, repression, domination (2-3), March/May, p. 159.
institutions such as the university.’ nativism and Afro-radicalism emerge Avoidance, if not scholarly failure to they might be some decolonial and exclusion. Decoloniality facilitates 13
Mignolo, The Dark Side of Western Modernity, p. 93.
14
Grosfoguel, ‘The Epistemic Decolonial Turn,’ p. 219.
Maldonado-Torres elaborated: as Africans try to regain lost ontological engage with coloniality, is the worst positions that might degenerate into the unmasking of racism as a global 15
Maldonado-Torres, N. 2011. ‘Thinking Through the
Decolonial Turn: Post-Continental Interventions in
“By decoloniality it is meant here density. What is needed is not severe sign of intellectual laziness compared romanticism and fundamentalism, problem as well as demonstrating Theory, Philosophy, and Critique—An Introduction.’
the dismantling of relations of power critiques of these ideologies emerging to African scholarship that continues but that is not generalisable to all how knowledge, including science, Transmodernity: Journal of Peripheral Cultural
Production of Luso-Hispanic World, 1(2), Fall, p. 1.
and conceptions of knowledge that from the zone of non-being but to to get to modernity, colonialism and decolonial thought. was used to justify colonialism. Finally 16
Mbembe, A. 1999. ‘Getting Out of the Ghetto: The
foment the reproduction of racial, understand life in this zone. It was coloniality as foundational elements of Decoloniality gives ex-colonised decoloniality accepts the fact of Challenge of Internationalization.’ In CODESRIA
Bulletin 3 &4 and Appiah, K. A. 1992. In My Father’s
gender, and geo-political hierarchies actually coloniality rather than nativism postcolonial African problems. 21 peoples a space to judge Euro- ontological pluralism as a reality that House: Africa in the Philosophy and Order of
that came into being or found new and and Afro-radicalism that installed the Logically, postmodern and American deceit and hypocrisy needs ecologies of knowledges to Knowledge. New York and Oxford: Monthly Review
Press.
more powerful forms of expression in discourse of metaphysics of difference. postcolonial critique of African and to stand up into subjecthood understand. 17
Mbembe, A. 2002a. ‘African Modes of Self-Writing.’
Public Culture, 14(1), pp. 239-273.
the modern/colonial world.” 15 Africans are genuine victims of this scholarship provoked an equally through judging Europe and exposing 18
Mbembe, A. 2002b. ‘On the Power of the False.’
But this article cannot be system of power and they have little severe response from such scholars technologies of subjectivation. Conclusion Public Culture, 14(3), pp. 613-655.
19
Robins, S. 2004. ‘The (Third) World is a Ghetto’?:
complete without engaging with choice but to reveal a psychosis of as Paul Tiyambe Zeleza and others. Decoloniality exposes the fact that I hope this article has succeeded in Looking for a Third Space Between ‘Postmodern’ ,
the postmodernist and postcolonial victimhood.17 It was also coloniality For instance, Mbembe was criticised Euro-American epistemologies are making a strong case for decoloniality 2&3, pp. 18-26.
20
Mbembe, ‘African Modes of Self-Writing.’
critique of all those combative that created a polemic relationship for uncritical celebration of the exhausted, opening an opportune in the 21st century. Decoloniality needs 21
Ibid.
interventions whose point of departure between the Euro-American world globalisation and cosmopolitanism that moment for articulation of decolonial to be appreciated as liberatory thought 22
Zeleza Email Comments to Francis Nyamnjoh, 19
January 2004.
is coloniality. and the rest of the Global South.18 As underpin Euro-American hegemony. epistemologies from the South in an that gestures towards the possibility 23
Grosfoguel, ‘The Epistemic Turn,’ p. 212.

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