Teen disrupts Pan-African de­bate

CityPress - - News - MSINDISI FENGU msindisi.fengu@city­press.co.za

Top aca­demics and in­ter­na­tional scholars de­bat­ing PanAfrican­ism and ways to de­colonise ed­u­ca­tion were chal­lenged by a teenager, who de­cried the coun­try’s in­suf­fi­cient fund­ing for ed­u­ca­tion, say­ing it dis­crim­i­nated against the poor.

Grade 11 stu­dent at Le­na­sia South Sec­ondary School Zandile Kuse grabbed the mi­cro­phone from an usher at the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg (UJ) Arts Cen­tre in Kingsway Cam­pus, where a three-day con­fer­ence started on Fri­day and ends to­day, and vented her frus­tra­tions with the “ap­palling state of ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing” in the coun­try.

Pro­fes­sor Adek­eye Ade­bajo, di­rec­tor of UJ’s In­sti­tute for Pan-African Thought and Con­ver­sa­tion, redi­rected the con­fer­ence ar­gu­ing that it merely sig­nalled the be­gin­ning of sev­eral projects or­gan­ised by the In­sti­tute. The fo­cus on Pan-African­ism his­tory and the de­coloni­sa­tion of ed­u­ca­tion was merely the first of many projects and top­ics to be dis­cussed in the near fu­ture. “Ob­vi­ously there will be time to look at the youth move­ments in Africa,” he ex­plained.

The con­fer­ence re­flected on the con­tri­bu­tion made by strug­gle stal­warts and other black in­ter­na­tional icons such as Martin Luther King Jr, Mal­colm X and ANC founders like Pix­ley ka Isaka Seme to in­spire young peo­ple, Ade­bajo said.

About 35 prom­i­nent aca­demics of African de­scent have been billed to share their aca­demic pa­pers as part of de­bat­ing their rel­e­vance in the cur­rent dis­course. The scholars were from the African con­ti­nent, the Caribbean, US, Canada and Europe.

Scholars de­bated the con­tri­bu­tions of Seme, Nige­rian writer Chi­ma­manda Ngozi Adichie, Maya An­gelou, Ghana’s first pres­i­dent and prime min­is­ter, Kwame Nkrumah, PAC pres­i­dent Robert Sobukwe, for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki, US ac­tivist Mal­colm X, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Frantz Fanon, black con­scious­ness move­ment leader Steve Biko, mu­si­cians Miriam Makeba and Bob Mar­ley, among oth­ers.

Present in the au­di­ence was Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s spokesper­son Dr Bon­gani Ngqu­lunga, who is also a se­nior re­search as­so­ciate at UJ and has re­cently penned a bi­og­ra­phy of one of the ANC’s founders, Seme.

Speak­ers from the floor high­lighted a dis­junc­ture be­tween the his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive of Pan-African­ism and the cur­rent dis­course on fund­ing of ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion as well as the de­coloni­sa­tion of syl­labuses. Oth­ers called for proper his­tor­i­cal ac­counts on PanAfrican­ism and the African pi­o­neers to in­clude the par­tic­i­pa­tion of women in Pan-African­ism, which they ar­gued was glar­ingly lack­ing.

Kuse’s com­ments set a tone for the youth, who ac­cused or­gan­is­ers of sidelin­ing the voice of youth. How­ever, the con­fer­ence re­cov­ered from the neg­a­tiv­ity raised by the high school pupil and em­braced all is­sues raised even though it had no im­me­di­ate so­lu­tions to the coun­try’s prob­lems.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.