The Decoloniality Summer School, as part of the UKZN Flagship Capacity Building and Training programme, was offered in collaboration with the Centre of Study and Investigation for Decolonial Dialogues (CSIDD), El Mirador de Colón, Barcelona, Spain.

Organised by Dr Saajidha Sader in collaboration with Professor Ramon Grosfoguel, the week-long interdisciplinary course aimed at enhancing the dialogue on Decoloniality and decolonisation in the sphere of Higher Education.

The Summer School attracted academics, scholar activist and students locally and internationally. It aimed to dialogically engage participants on conceptions of Decoloniality and decolonisation in relation to Higher Education. It was partially funded by UKZN Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize.

Welcoming participants, Ramjugernath said UKZN prided itself for being the most transformed university in South Africa as well as being the first institution of Higher Learning to have a language policy.

Ramjugernath said the transformation framework in place strived to transform the work environment and student experience, hence discussions about transforming the curriculum were important. He said the Summer School would help academics get a solid and unified understanding about decolonisation, what it meant for each person, ‘the production of knowledge and ways to solve the problem’. 

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Social Cohesion Research Flagship, Professor Relebohile Moletsane, thanked presenters and participants for registering for the Summer School and promised a stellar week. Moletsane said she hoped the summer school would grow to be a regular feature on the UKZN calendar. She encouraged participants to get involved in research that mainly focused on social inequality, inequity and injustice in education. She expressed her delight at the presence of student activists at the summer school and the interest they demonstrated.

Introducing participants to Decolonial Thinking, the Director at the Centre of Study and Investigation for Decolonial Dialogues (CSIDD) and Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California in Berkeley in the United States, Grosfoguel, gave a detailed historical background on colonisation and coloniality.

Grosfoguel said decoloniality was a politically important project to ensure countries such as South Africa did not repeat the mistakes of the past. He said universities should be at the centre of these conversations as they have a critical role to play in the country. Grosfoguel explained that having different bodies in the same space was not enough and urged universities to involve other stakeholders who have investigated the problem, and take seriously their critical thought. ‘Decoloniality is a necessity and if we don’t take it seriously, our days are numbered,’ added Grosfoguel.

Other presenters included Professor Nelson Maldonaldo-Torres from the Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies and Program in Comparative Literature, Rutgers University, in the United States who presented on theorising the Decolonial Turn; Professor Elelwani Ramugondo of the Division of Occupational Therapy and Deputy Dean in Postgraduate Education in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town, who discussed Genocide and the Colonial Encounter; Professor Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni of the African Political Economy and Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute at the University of South Africa who gave an address on Africa in Global Coloniality and the African Decolonial Reconstitution of the Political; Associate Professor and Deputy Dean Shose  Kessi of the Department of Psychology at the University  of  Cape Town who presented on Decolonising Psychology; Ms Zandisiwe Radebe, a lecturer in Political Science, University of South Africa and Ms Nompumelelo Zodwa Radebe, a lecturer at the Department of Anthropology, University of South Africa, who presented workshops with Torres on Decoloniality, Activism and Decolonial Healing.

Author, academic, and feminist scholar Professor Betty Govinden of UKZN’s, former staff member in the School of Education, spoke on the Decoloniality and Feminist Thinking from the South.  Govinden also presented a poem titled: Amandla is still Awethu.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photograph: Itumeleng Masa