Mamdani defines decolonising the mind as critical thinking in a liberal arts education

From a nice summary of a recent lecture in South Africa.  Saying that decolonizing education is critical thinking strikes me as a trite observation dressed up with a raised fist. Good tactic? Deep thought? Amazing metaphor? Silly? Dismissive of people everywhere who teach critical thinking every day?

5. What does it practically mean, then, to decolonise education?

Mamdani answered this question with a practical example of how he teaches at Uganda’s Makerere University. He requires his PhD students to identify a colonial text that was a foundation and reference point that Western academics would draw from. His students have to understand the language of whom the text spoke of, and are not allowed to graduate unless they have research proficiency in two other languages besides English. He then asks his students to analyse and describe the author’s assumptions in deciding what information is relevant.

“What categories is he/she utilising to validate certain information and invalidate other information? And then I say to them, now you use the same information and give me a different narrative than the author. That’s decolonisation,” he said.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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