A Decolonial Curriculum Is Everything: An Afrocentric Approach

A Decolonial Curriculum Is Everything: An Afrocentric Approach

Zingisa Nkosinkulu (University of South Africa, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1249-4.ch003
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Abstract

This chapter seeks to map how indigenous people and their indigenous knowledge systems are the most researched and written about in the world, yet they are the least understood. The curriculum of the empire and its scientific explanation justified how indigenous knowledge systems should be approached and viewed as well as who has the authority to justify; hence, indigenous knowledge systems were justified as inferior and not worthy of the standard of European knowledge system. In this chapter, Frantz Fanon's thought will be deployed to illustrate how this division of knowledge justifies the perpetuating dehumanisation of indigenous people under the mask of modernisation and globalisation. By deploying decoloniality, Afrocentricity, and Fanonian thought, this chapter seeks to challenge this curriculum that is based on the history of the conquest of Africa that positioned Africa only as a cradle of slaves and the black bodied as created by God only for the benefit of the Europeans.
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Introduction

Since I was born in the Antilles, my observations and my conclusions are valid only for the Antilles—at least concerning the black man at home. Another book could be dedicated to explaining the differences that separate the Negro of the Antilles from the Negro of Africa. Perhaps one day I shall write it. Perhaps too it will no longer be necessary—a fact for which we could only congratulate ourselves (Fanon [1952] 2008, p.1).

Frantz Fanon’s perspective is instrumental to the understanding of the curriculum as a tool that divides the coloniser from the colonised in the colonial/Eurocentric/anti-black world. Fanon’s lived experience is testament to this division that influenced his life and thoughts about the existence of the indigenous people that he refers to as the colonised or natives in his writings. Indigenous people and their indigenous knowledge systems are the most researched and written about in the world, yet they are still the most misrepresented. This is why Afrocentricity is a suitable paradigm to decolonize the curriculum in relation Fanon’s thought. Afrocentricity is a paradigm that positions the Africana subject as the center of hers or his world, it allows the agency and ability to think form an African-centered perspective (Asante 2007; Owusu-Ansah & Mji, 2013). In this regard, Fanon’s thought is relevant to the understanding of this epistemic division as something that materialized deliberately for the structure of the “empire” (Hardt & Negri 2000) that was intended to restructure the world to the image of the European logic. The knowledge systems and way of living for colonised people was the fundamental base of creating what transpired to be the curriculum of the empire, with research approaches that are being deployed in academia today. Most research approaches that are being used in the curriculum are based on research and methodologies that were developed and used towards the contribution of positioning black people as objects intended to be owned, used and studied. Under these research approaches, the colonised people’s existence and their way of life was studied and used to create disciplines such as anthropology, ethnography, sociology and research methodologies that were used to justify indigenous people as inferior. While other academic disciplines such as science, art and archaeology as well as biology and history were used as a weapon to justify dehumanisation of indigenous people, and the classification of their knowledge systems as primitive and barbaric.

This epistemic division created and justified the existence of what is commonly known as the Global South in which Africa as the victim of colonisation is located under, as the primitive side of knowledge. Fanon understood the language of the centre and periphery that demonstrated these divisions that made the periphery a no man’s land, as the “zone of nonbeing” (Fanon [1952] 2008, p.2). The zone of none being is a place without knowledge, a place without history, without spirituality and most importantly a place without humans. As history tells us about what resulted to Africa being named a dark continent, a name that embodies a perception of many fathers of European knowledge such as Hegel. This perception is based on the history of the conquest of Africa that positioned Africa only as a cradle of slaves and black bodies as created by God only for the benefit of European pleasures and development. Narratives of history and of the conquest depicts to us how colonial research and methodologies were supported by the European fathers of knowledge. Fanon takes a different position from the European fathers of knowledge to say that the colonised life is life in the zone of nonbeing, there are beings and there is a different humanity. This chapter takes Fanon’s position of thinking beyond the curriculum of the empire by adopting an Afrocentric approach.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Afrocentricity: An approach that positions African people as the centre of their knowledge production. It allows the African subject to engage the world based on their indigenous knowledge systems.

Empire: It is a concept that was invented by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2000) AU64: The in-text citation "Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2000)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. to suggest the global political world that is ruled as one empire, which is controlled by a certain group of people. In the empire, it is only the white subject who is considered a sovereign subject who also qualifies to be the only human.

Africana Existential Phenomenology: It is a kind of phenomenology that allows Africana people to study their subjectivity in relation to the colonial world based on their lived experience. By putting the word decoloniality as a prefix suggest that it is located in the project of decolonisation.

Decoloniality: It as project of challenging colonisation and racism. Unlike post-coloniality which is located inside modernity, decoloniality comes outside of modernity.

Blackness: It is a kind of a condition that is created through racism, imperialism and colonisation. It used here from a decolonial epistemic perspective, which believe blackness is a cause and fuel of modernity.

Indigenous Knowledge Systems: It is a knowledge system that predates colonisation and European modernity. It is an ancient knowledge that is based on the way indigenous people see, think and do in the world based on their culture.

Coloniality of Knowledge: It is a form of colonisation that privileges Eurocentric knowledge over other knowledge systems. It labels indigenous knowledge systems as primitive knowledge that is not at the level of European knowledge.

Frantz Fanon: Is a Black theorist who is known for his work which focuses on the lived experience of the black subject in the colonised world or empire. His work is a critique of colonisation and racism, it allows the black colonised subject to be able to understand their subjectivity in a modern/colonial world.

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