From a uni-ver­sity to­wards a plura-ver­sity: A de­colo­nial per­spec­tive on na­tional de­vel­op­ment agenda in Zim­babwe through sport and recre­ation

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Comment & Analysis - With Min Makhosini Hlong­wane

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.

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