From a uni-versity towards a plura-versity: A decolonial perspective on national development agenda in Zimbabwe through sport and recreation
AS Africa is confronting a new epistemic paradigm shift it is crucial to reflect on the words of Patrice Lumumba, writing from his prison cell just before his gruesome murder in the hands of Africa’s avowed enemies, Lumumba wrote these soothingly prophetic words to his wife Pauline:
“Do not weep for me . . . History will one day have its say; it will not be the history taught in the United Nations, Washington, Paris or Brussels, but the history taught in the countries that have rid themselves of colonialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history, and north and south of the Sahara it will be a history full of glory and dignity.” (Van Lierde, 1972).
This romantic dirge prophetically prescribed the road map of post-colonial Africa’s current task of decolonising knowledge. This except from Lumumba resonates with the wisdom of many other doyens of decolonial reason. Moreover, this calls for structured contestations of the status-quo conceived by colonialism. This means that Africa’s centres of learning must be at the forefront of promoting this trajectory. This entails that the focal point of decolonisation must be the task of liberating reason in a bid to eradicate the residual impediments of the colonial system to accelerate Africa’s development.
The university and the quest for relevant knowledge production
Comrades and friends, I am delighted to be in the company of Zimbabwe’s future — the youth. I feel honoured to be among scholars at the behest of this fast-growing university’s alumni. This afternoon I have been requested to discuss the significance of the university in paving the path for national development and how that can be achieved through sport and recreation. However, I am going to divert from the initial parameters of this request and attempt to unpack an in-depth analytical scope of the university as a manufacturer of knowledge. As such, this paper attempts to interrogate the relevance of the knowledge we are producing both as a country and as a continent in relation with questions of development. At the end of it all, I hope we will be able to ask ourselves if we are really producing knowledge that is relevant to the national development questions of the day.
In this presentation, I argue that the university must function as a modern space of extracting, processing and despatching knowledge. Guided by the Human-Factor Approach to Development theory, I wish to register an affirmative exclamation to this debate by stating that graduates of any university define the profit margins or excesses of the mandate that gives life to the empirical institutional key result areas of any university. To this end, I will foreword by presentation by concluding that a university is an epicentre for thought production aimed at leveraging socio-economic development of any nation. This means that we need not to interrogate whether or not a university should promote national development. Instead we must be able to look at emerging trends which impact and accelerate national development and then situate those issue in what the university teaches its students. This is because the university is fundamentally founded to serve as a laboratory for innovation, national development oriented ingenuity, craft literacy and craft competency (Moyo 1993; Mararike 2013).
Situating LSU in Zimbabwe’s thoughtpower contestations
On the contrary, pessimist scholarship has defined the university in Zimbabwe as a space of producing and reproducing ideas which sustain state power at the expense of meaningful national development. This perspective is common if one explores the views explored by Terence Ranger when he discusses “Nationalist historiography, patriotic history and the history of the nation: the struggle over the past in Zimbabwe.” However, beyond the narrow definitions of the role of the university as articulated by Ranger it remains crucial for us to have a pragmatic appreciation of the fact that all state universities are supposed to be guided by projections which the state espouses in terms of promoting the livelihoods of its people. I am aware that this view may be deemed as pro-establishment. This is because much of our academia has been densely polarised by a consortium of anecdotal deformations of the republican reputation as a result of the land reform and the rise of a neo-liberal opposition in Zimbabwe.
In this regard, a university — particularly a State university must operate within the confines of providing intellectual capital which sustains national policies enacted by a democratically elected Government regardless of the contestations of legitimacy of that Government especially in polarised political environments as is the case with Zimbabwe (Raftopolous 2013; Mahomva 2015; Moyo, S 2015; 2015b). This indicates that the university is a terrain of contested thought-power and it ought to serve as an embodiment of the values that guard the sovereignty of the land.
I stand guided that Lupane State University was established in 2005 in terms of the Lupane State University Act (Chapter 25:25) of 2005. The primary mandate of LSU’s establishment was to nurture the development and promotion of Agriculture in semi-arid regions. Other mandates which fall within the purview of the University are: Tourism and Hospitality, Wildlife management, extraction of natural resources and promotion of Minority languages, Performing Arts, Agricultural Engineering, Biotechnology, Building Technology, Energy Resources, Wood Technology, Forestry and Rural Community Development.
While these faculty parameters of the university’s mandate are essential, I think it would be prudent for the Lupane State University council and senate to also create a centre for sport and recreation in line with the emerging demands in promoting this sector. Other leisure faculties like film, tourism, theatre are studied across the country’s universities. So far we only have Bindura University, Nust and ZOU teaching sport as an academic discipline. As such, I implore Lupane State University to also join in this band wagon of universities teaching sport and recreation. This way through LSU we will be able to reach out to a greater part of our rural populace whose greater part of endowment in sport has not been broadly explored.
In this presentation, I intend to discuss the role of the university in translating all organic intellectualism to socio-economic and political valuables that promote development. It is in the university that all matters patterning to human and national development are constructed and at times de-constructed. This is why as Government we find pleasure in interactions of this kind as they enable us to cross pollinate ideas with future policy makers, bureaucrats, scientists and players in commerce. This way we can be able to give room for reason in attempting to solve the challenges presently facing Zimbabwe. Through dialogue we are able to frame ideas that inform the wellness of society, its culture, value systems and interface with other societies. To bring these matters to the fore, I will use sport and a recreation not only as a point of reference, but as an area I have been accorded the opportunity to superintend at Government level. The premise of my submissions are drawn from the policies that have been effected by Ministry of Sport and Recreation in the interest of national development.
As a point of departure, I will discuss the landscape of knowledge making from an African context with particular attentiveness to the impediments of the fruition of the role of the university as a conduit of national development. The theoretical grounding of the discussion My traverse of this perspective is underpinned on the introspective leanings of the GlobalSouth scholarship — particularly from a cohort decolonial thinkers from the Global South such as Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni (2013; 2015; 2016), Nelson Maldonaldo Torres (2014; 2016), Walter Magnolo, Achille Mbembe, Ramón Grosfoguel, Asante Molefi and several other thinkers who have proposed the need for the idea of an African university and not a university in Africa.
One may ask, what is the difference between an African university and a university in Africa? The African university represents the envisaged institutional “ought to be” function of the tertiary institution of learning in Africa. This imagined university must be an embodiment of the commonsensical values of the African people, their world view, experience and interface with other global actors.
In this case, the African university borrows its existence from a history of colonialism explained by Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni (2016) as a:
“(. . .) historical process that culminated in the invasion, conquest, and direct administration of Africa by states like Spain, Portugal, Britain, and France for purposes of enhancing their prestige as empires, for exploitation of natural and human resources and export of excess population, for the benefit of the empire. Colonialism as a historical process came to an end in the post-1945 period that witnessed the withdrawal of direct colonial administrations and with those that were reluctant to do so facing confrontation from national liberation movements.”
This summative explanation of colonialism as a process indicates that the tertiary stage of the continent’s dismemberment found its expression in intrusive penetrations of Eurocentricity in the social structure of the African communities. This process has been described by third-world thinkers and others in the area of subaltern studies as coloniality. According to Nelson Torres Maldonado:
“Coloniality is different from colonialism. Colonialism denotes a political and economic relation in which the sovereignty of a nation or a people rests on the power of another nation, which makes such a nation an empire. Coloniality, instead, refers to long-standing patterns of power that emerged as a result of colonialism, but that define culture, labour, inter-subjectivity relations, and knowledge production well beyond the strict limits of colonial administrations. Thus, coloniality survives colonialism.”
Maldonaldo further explains that through coloniality; colonialism is “maintained alive in books, in the criteria for academic performance, in cultural patterns, in common sense, in the self-image of peoples, in aspirations of self, and so many other aspects of our modern experience. In a way, as modern subjects we breathe coloniality all the time and every day.”
Therefore, decoloniality is prescribed as panacea to the institutional hangover of imperialism which African scholars are grappling with in a bid to establish the idea of an African university to override the superficial notion of a university in Africa. As such, the decolonial perspective espouses the need for a pluriversal epistemology of the future - a redemptive and liberatory epistemology that seeks to de-link from the tyranny of abstract universals. In this context one can argue that decoloniality advances the idea of a pluraversity instead of a uni-versity.
Decoloniality informs the ongoing struggles against the universal dictates of what should inform being, power and most importantly what should influence the “politics of knowing”.
Inspired by the Rhodes Must Fall Movement, one leading decolonial scholar, Achille Mbebe argues that, “To bring Rhodes’ statue down is far from erasing history, and nobody should be asking us to be eternally indebted to Rhodes for having ‘donated’ his money and for having bequeathed ‘his’ land to the university. If anything, we should be asking how he acquired the land in the first instance.”
Professor Mbembe further asserts that demolishing “. . . Rhodes’ statue down is one of the many legitimate ways in which we can, today in Africa, demythologise that history and put it to rest — which is precisely the work memory properly understood is supposed to accomplish.” This seemingly unreasonable form of thinking indicates how much decoloniality is a wage of war against systems of institutional residences of colonial power. Therefore, decoloniality of the university remains key in achieving the true unchaining of the African mind by challenging the status-quo from both the physical and the metaphysical paradigm. (To be continued next week).
The Minister of Sport and Recreation, Hon Makhosini Hlongwane was speaking at the Lupane State University Alumni Association Public Lecture in Bulawayo on Friday. I’M appealing to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to make sure that people who live in areas where there are mineral resources such as diamonds, iron, chrome and emeralds are also benefiting from the sales of these precious stones.
I am not only talking about mineral resources but resources like timber as well. For example there are some very heavy forests in Matabeleland North Province with a lot of timber but there is little to talk about in terms of development.
Matabeleland North is still among the poorest in the country with roads, clinics hospitals and schools which are yet to be upgraded. Major roads especially in Lupane District where most of the timber is found, are still in bad state.
The popular road called Fighting Road which links Lupane District with Nkayi Road is still a dust road full of potholes and if this road had to be tarred using money coming from the sales of this timber it would uplift the standards of living for many villagers in the province who would stop the long journey of going to Bulawayo first before Nkayi.
You find the same problem where it is difficult to link Hwange with Binga District. This area, especially Jambezi, is way back in terms of development. Ministry would hear their loud cries.
Some schools are still located in the bushes and teachers are shunning these schools which are very far from water sources preferring to work at schools either near Binga centre, Hwange town or Bulawayo.
In Matabeleland South it’s where we have a lot of mining activities taking place but the province is yet to be developed. We have popular and rich mines such as Blanket Mine and Vumbachigwe which are situated along a very busy and major road but a bad dust road which stretches from Bagcwele through Mtshazo to Gwanda but to my big surprise on the map it is indicated that it is a tarred road.
Villagers have complained bitterly about the state of this road and they suspect that the money to upgrade the road may have been abused. We also have cement in the province but still people in West Nicholson are poor.
Villagers in most parts of Mberengwa have long been complaining more than their counterparts from other districts because they have emeralds which are much more expensive than all other mineral resources yet their district which is in the Midlands province is the poorest in Zimbabwe.
I cannot continue to name the roads which are in a bad state in Mberengwa because all of them are bad and the four Members of Parliament for all constituencies know what I am talking about.
I will be talking about the diamonds in Marange next time because as I speak I am on my way to Manicaland Province. I would like to thank Mimosa Platinum Mine who have played their part by ploughing back to the community of Zvishavane by sponsoring some sporting activities in the Midlands Province. Eddious Masundire, Shumba Chunga Business Centre, Binga District.