The idea of decolonisation frightens many South African academics. Since students launched the movement to decolonize higher education in early 2015, I’ve heard several of my peers ask, “What do ‘they’ mean by decolonisation? Going back to the Stone Age? Teaching only about South Africa and Africa? Isolation from the rest of the world?” Legal academic Joel Modiri points out that these “cynical queries by mostly white academics, demanding that students explain to them what decolonisation even means, suggests their own illiteracy about the history and intellectual debates in their disciplines”. These sorts of questions also show a distinct lack of engagement with the African continent. After all, other African countries have grappled with precisely the same issues for decades. In Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana, academics and intellectuals have long tried to break down colonial shackles and decolonise their disciplines and universities.
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