Decolonizing the African University Pedagogy Through Integrating African Indigenous Knowledge and Information Systems

Decolonizing the African University Pedagogy Through Integrating African Indigenous Knowledge and Information Systems

Denis Sekiwu, Francis Adyanga Akena, Nina Olivia Rugambwa
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9561-9.ch010
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This chapter examines the prospects of reaffirming the importance of Africa's indigenous knowledge in global scholarship. Since colonialism, there has been a persistent tendency for Western knowledge framers to demean African indigenous knowledge (AIK). This tendency has implications for the global cosmopolitan society where indigenous knowledge is commendably of benefit. The chapter suggests a convergence of Western knowledge and AIK bases to counter neocolonial hegemony in knowledge production. Such transformation supports the intellectualization and decolonization of the African university pedagogy by integration of indigenous knowledge. The attempt for colonialism to miseducate the colonized Africans suffocated the potential of AIK, a process that has been reproduced in post-colonial formal education. The chapter advocates for the reconsideration of the place and significance of AIK in the formal university pedagogy as a deliberate strategy to decolonize dominant hegemonic epistemology.
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The plight of colonialism and neocolonial discourse seem to have tormented Africa’s past and present in the quest for modernity. This brings Ahluwalia’s (2001) thesis that Africa’s problems are located firmly in the continent’s colonial past and postcolonial present, to sound convincing. Indeed, Africa’s historical malady is neocolonialism, continuing to constrain and shape Africa’s future. In theory, African people received colonialism as a wave of enlightenment of the colony (Poku & Mdee, 2011). However later, colonialism metamorphosed into hegemony, classically in the form of political and economic control on the part of a European state over territory and peoples outside Europe (Dei, 2017). Ssekamwa (2000) documents the history and development of education in Uganda illuminating that colonial domination manifested through control of formal education, creation of colonial administrations and endeavoring to secularize the African native. Diverse writings on African indigenous studies paint similar testimonies of the overtones of colonialism and neocolonialism on the continent. For instance, Wane (2002) contemplates that most contents of African education are borrowed pages from European, American and Oriental experiences with minimal inclination to indigenous wisdom. Again Ntuli (1999) discourses that on getting western education, Africans were ideologically hoodwinked into the belief that their indigenous knowledge could not transform their welfare state as western education paradigms did, in the end, western education gained prominence over AIK. Ezeanya (2011) collaborates that social and moral prosperity of African people seems to have flourished during colonialism, and in the wake of enjoyment of colonialism and postcolonialism’s profits, Africans are immersed into colonial oppression. With superior colonial influences and much of the development discourse coming from European powers, circumstances would automatically force for abandonment of indigenous knowledges. That is why Afro-pessimists epitomize Africa as a failure whose onslaught emanates from colonial and neocolonial bigotry (Ayittey, 1998).

All attempts by colonialism to open doors to the outside world for Africans through building trade relations, consolidating their will to fight for political independence (Karugire, 2010), enabling Africans become part of a global civil society (Ezeanya-Esiobu, 2019) and exposing Africans to vast opportunities for sustainable development (Briggs & Sharp, 2004) dictate the pace at which the colonized positioned themselves for colonial domination. The worst-case scenario is that colonial hegemony exposed African people to miseducation by accepting to view themselves through a Eurocentric lens in the guise of searching for reason, self-discovery, and transforming the precolonial subject into a colonial citizen (Quijano, 2000; Mamdani, 2004). This exasperating behavior is coined by Mudimbe (1988: p.2) as

“The all-embracing marginality of Africa is produced by the tripartite elements of colonizing structures that dominated physical space, the reformation of natives’ minds, and the integration of local economic histories into the Western enterprise”.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Indigenous Knowledge: The knowledge used by local people to make a living in a particular environment. This knowledge is built up by a group of people through generations of living in close contact with nature.

Transformative Learning: It is a theory of learning that empowers learners to see the social world differently and through an ethical lens, so that they will challenge and change the status quo as agents of change.

Postcolonialism: The critical study of the cultural legacy of colonialism and imperialism, focusing on the human consequences of the control and exploitation of colonized people and their lands.

Pedagogy: Approach to teaching or the theory and practice of learning, and how this process influences, and is influenced by the social, political, and psychological development of learners.

Indigenous Information Systems: Complex set of knowledge, skills and technologies existing and developed around specific conditions of a group of people or populations and communities indigenous to a particular geographical location.

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