Against Decolonisation

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* Book: Against Decolonisation: Taking African Agency Seriously. Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò.



Ralph Leonard:

""Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò is an academic originally from Ibadan in Nigeria, now teaching at Cornell University. According to his new book, Against Decolonisation: Taking African Agency Seriously, these ubiquitous demands that we decolonise “indicate that either ‘decolonisation’ is truly an intellectual breakthrough that ‘packs an explanatory/analytical punch like no other,’ or it has become a catch-all trope, often used to perform contemporary ‘morality’ or ‘authenticity,’” a trope that has nothing serious to contribute to intellectual thought. One can critique Eurocentric narratives, broaden one’s intellectual and cultural palate beyond the Euro-American canon and believe that African societies and cultures deserve respect and should not be slandered—without the specialised and mostly incomprehensible terminology, shrill posturing and reactionary pseudo-radicalism that define decolonial politics. Indeed, as Táíwò stresses, many Africans have already been doing this, without feeling the need to declare that they are “decolonising.”

Táíwò takes an Afrocentric perspective, focusing more on the effects and implications the decolonising discourse has in Africa than in the west. He makes his stance clear: “we should rid ourselves of decolonisation” because “it is seriously harming scholarship in and on Africa.” Not only that, he also convincingly argues that the voguish decolonial discourse—promulgated mainly by intellectuals and academics—is positively harmful to Africa. For one, the so called decolonisers “fully embrace the racialisation of consciousness,” in, for example, coding modernity as white and therefore in some intrinsic way anti-black—a position that condemns Africans to being merely “resisters or victims of modernity,” rather than critical appropriators of it. The “absolutisation of European colonialism” turns Africans into “permanent subalterns in their own history.” "