The Global Academic Director of DIN launches the Lesotho Chapter

From 7 – 8 October 2023, Dr Munyaradzi Mushonga, the Global Academic Director of DIN, was in the Kingdom of Lesotho to launch the DIN Lesotho Chapter. The host was the National University of Lesotho (NUL), the country’s premier institution and only public university (https://www.nul.ls/).

The Faculty of Humanities (https://www.nul.ls/humanities/), led by its Dean, Professor Paul Leshota and the faculty’s postgraduate co-ordinator Professor ’Mamoleba Kolobe, together with the Academic Forum for Development of Lesotho (AfdeL) led by its Secretary General Professor Tsepo Mokuku hosted the Global Academic Director of DIN.

The launch of the DIN Lesotho Chapter was preceded by a public lecture on Decolonizing Knowledge and a Workshop on Decolonizing The Mind, both conducted by Dr Munyaradzi Mushonga. The Global Academic Director of DIN kicked off the public lecture by paying respects to the Elders of the Basotho nation, past, present and emerging, and challenged those present to take pride in their ways of living, doing, knowing, thinking, praying, dancing, and singing as these were valid and legitimate forms of knowledge without which there would be no living. The lecture touched on a number of key aspects of decolonizing knowledge namely: what is, and what is not decoloniality; why decoloniality in the 21st century; how knowledge is colonized; how to decolonize knowledge; and the place of knowledge and decoloniality in development. Dr Mushonga concluded the lecture by calling on NUL and Lesotho to embark on the journey of unlearning in order to relearn what Western modernity taught them to despise.

In the workshop, Dr Mushonga took the NUL community on a journey of how to decolonize the mind. He offered Decolonizing the Mind (DTM) as a school of science that argues that scientific knowledge has been colonized and requires root and branch decolonization and reconstitution. Drawing from Sandew Hira’s tour de force, Decolonizing The Mind: A guide to decolonial theory and practice (2023) (https://shop.ihrc.org/products/decolonizing-the-mind-a-guide-to-decolonial-theory-and-practice-sandew-hira),  Dr Munyaradzi Mushonga demonstrated how knowledge production has been deployed in the colonization of the mind. He also offered several pathways to the decolonization of the mind.

Lecture and Workshop Feedback/Evaluation

The evaluation/feedback on both the lecture and the workshop was framed around five questions developed by the co-ordinating team led by Professor Paul Leshota, Professor Tsepo Moku and Professor ’Mamoleba Kolobe:

  1. What were your expectation(s) about the decoloniality seminar?
  2. Mention a maximum of three important things that you learned from the workshop?
  3. State three ways in which decoloniality may be relevant for NUL?
  4. State three ways in which decoloniality may be relevant for Lesotho.
  5. What is the most important thing about decoloniality for you?

Diverse responses were generated from these five questions. Because of want of space, only one response is picked from each question. Overall, the participates were not only satisfied with the knowledge they gained, but also the possible routes to exit the epistemic/existential prison. In response to question 1, one participant responded, “Decoloniality should [be] spread throughout the whole continent of Africa, in countries, villages and communities as well. It should be explored with all the media platforms, as well as in formal, informal and non-formal academia approach”. In response to question 2, one participant wrote, “Decoloniality occurs at different levels; personal, structural, systemic, and otherwise”. In response to question 3, one participant wrote, “Establishment of decolonial institute or centre; fortnightly presentations on decoloniality; and establishment of decoloniality journals to publish decolonial-driven research”. To question 4, one participant responded, “African spirituality will no longer be discriminated because of religion; Basotho will know that knowledge is not centred around Eurocentric ideas; Basotho do not have to depend on Western, European and Eastern countries”. To question 5, one participant stated, “It is slowly liberating my mind and has rekindled within me the thirst to know and research about Lesotho”. In short, the aggregate of the responses demonstrate that the lecture and the workshop were a great success, and the DIN Foundation needs to build on the momentum.

Participants at the NUL Decolonizing Knowledge Lecture & Decolonizing the Mind Workshop, 7-8 October 2023

The Decolonial International Network Lesotho Chapter Takes Root

The enthusiasm and the robust engagements that followed the public lecture and the workshop were enough to set in motion the constitution of the chapter, which the participants hastily named as DIN Lesotho Chapter. The formulation of the chapter revolved around the following three key questions in their English and Sesotho versions.

1)            How might Decoloniality be defined in Sesotho? (Re ka hlalosa ‘decoloniality’ joang ka Sesotho?)

2)            Suggest decoloniality themes that should guide the DIN Lesotho Chapter activities? (Ke lintlhakholo li fe tsa ‘decoloniality’ tse ka tataisang Mokhatlo oa DIN Lesotho ts’ebetsong ea ona?)

3)            Suggest decolonial activities that the DIN Lesotho Chapter should carry out? (Ke lits’ebetso tsa mofuta o fe tsa ‘decoloniality’ tseo           mokhatlo oa DIN Lesotho o ka li etsang?).

These questions were debated in three separate group discussions followed by group presentations. After the presentations, a strong 13-member DIN Lesotho Chapter Steering Committee was established. The committee is made up of representatives from NUL’s seven faculties and other stakeholders. As at 8 September, following made up the Committee: Education (Dr Mahao Mahao), Law (Dr Letadzo Kometsi),  Humanities (Prof. ’Mamoleba Kolobe; Dr Raphael Thuube; Dr Sean Maliehe; Prof. Paul Leshota (Dean ex-Officio), Science & Technology (Dr Nthatamele Maliehe), Undergraduate Students (Mr Mphou Setha), Postgraduate Students (Ms Makabelo Kobisi), Non-Academic Staff (Mr John Mofomobe), AfdeL (Prof. Tsepo Mokuku), with the faculties of Agriculture, Health Sciences, and Social  Science yet to submit names.

DIN Lesotho Chapter Steering Committee – from left to right: Dr. S. Maliehe, Dr. N. Maliehe, Prof. T. Mokuku, Prof. M. Kolobe, Prof. P. Leshota, Dr. R. Thuube, Ms M. Kobisi, Dr. M. Mahao

On Wednesday, 18 October 2023, the DIN Lesotho Chapter Decolonial Ad hoc. Committee met to discuss the way forward. It came up with several resolutions that it will take to the Steering Committee for deliberations and ratification. The Global Academic Director is happy to report that DIN Lesotho Chapter indicated its readiness to host its first Decolonial School in the not-too-distant future.

The Sun that went down with the arrival of a ‘Civilization of Death’ is rising again in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Will Israel survive the 2023 War?

Sandew Hira, October 8, 2023

The question

In my book Decolonizing The Mind – a Guide to Decolonial Theory and Practice I wrote the following in a paragraph dealing with Palestine: “If in any of the coming rounds of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian resistance the Palestinians stand their ground and a prolonged war between Gaza and Israel ensues, then international forces will come into play for the final battle which will cease to be an air battle.” I pose the question: “Will Israel still exist in the coming decades?” [1]

In an analysis of the war of 2021 I draw the following conclusion: “The next stage might be the final round if we are looking at it in the context of World War III, the US or Israel could use a nuclear bomb to ensure their survival.”[2]

The conclusion is that Israel might not exist in the coming decades.

This article provides a decolonial analysis of the new war of yesterday, October 7, 2023. Its conclusion is: Israel might not exist in the coming years.

The theoretical framework

We live in dangerous times. If we use Western media as a guideline to understand current events, we will not understand the danger and how to deal with it. The Western narrative of the current stage of world politics is very simplistic. We live in a world in which freedom and democracy is under attack. Barbaric and despotic forces there attacking Western civilization. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Israel is a beacon of Western civilization in the heart of a backward oriental region. Israel and its Western supporters are so mighty that they will easily beat the forces of evil.

This narrative is part of mental slavery, the colonization of the mind. A mechanism of mental slavery is that Western media prevent other voices that contradict their narrative to be heard. So the contradiction come from reality. When reality does not conform their narrative, they panic. They think that there something wrong with reality.

I use the theoretical framework of Decolonizing The Mind (DTM) to explain what is going on now and what we can expect in the coming period.

One element of DTM is the use of imagination as a source of knowledge. Western analysis is based on observation and reasoning. The future is an extrapolation of the past. When they look at Palestine, they see Israel, a strong military power with nuclear weapons and the strongest possible support from the West: militarily, politically, economically and culturally. How can this power be defeated by a group without this kind of support? Given this framework the only outcome of the current war is that Palestinians pay a very high price for their resistance in the forms of thousands of casualties and eventually go into submission.

In the DTM framework the future is not an extrapolation of the past. It is perfectly possible to have sharp breaches in the currently line of development that fundamentally alters the future. In under to understand this argument, you should use imagination.

I give a few examples in the book.

Imagine that you are a African who was born into enslavement in the USA. You have witnessed the defeat of the rebellion of John Brown (1800-1859) in 1859. Brown was a white abolitionist who organized a group of 22 men, among them five Africans, to start a rebellion that should have brought down the system of slavery. They attacked an arsenal with arms and ammunition in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. They called upon the enslaved Africans to rise up in a general rebellion. But there was no response. The US army quickly captured the group. Some were killed immediately. All, but one of Brown’s sons, were executed after a trial. In those circumstances if somebody would have told you, that six years later slavery would be abolished in the United States, you definitely would have answered that this was a ludicrous fantasy. And yet, six years later the impossible became possible.

Imagine that you are a European that looks at Europe on January 1914. The Ottoman empire and the Austr0-Hugnarian Habsburg empire had existed for 600 years. The Russian empire had existed for 200 years. The German empire was united from different 26 different territories states into one vibrant centralized state. In 1914 Kaiser Willem II seemed to stronger than ever. If someone would have told you that within eight years all these empires would not exist anymore, you would think that this is just a fantasy.

Our sense of time can deceive us when we talk about history. The difference between 1914 and 1970 is 56 years. In half a century the world has changed dramatically. There were two World Wars. World War I was just finished and World War II was one its way and one pandemic (Spanish Flu). Much of the global south was politically colonized by the global north. By 1970 the majority of the global south was politically independent. The Internet and personal computer, let alone mobile telephones, did not exist in 1970.

The difference between 2023 and 1970 is more or less same as the difference between 1970 and 1914. And this period has also seen dramatic changes in the world. China and India have risen from the ashes of the colonial period to become major economic and political players on the world stage. The Soviet bloc has dissolved and out of those ashes the Russian Federation has risen as a major military power. Germany has been united. Iran has become a major geopolitical force. We are experiencing a pandemic (COVID-19). The Internet technology has changed the world in a way nobody could have foreseen.

Yet, when we compare 1914-1970 with 1970-2023 it feels as if the gap between 1914 and 1970 is far bigger than the gap between 1970 and 2023, probably because we are still in one generation that is living through the current era. We feel as if the period 1914-1970 is closed, while we still seem to be living in the second period.

Now imagine how the world will look in fifty years, say in 2072. Can we imagine a change that is so drastic that we regard the period of 1970-2023 as a period that we have closed as humankind?

I will now use imagination to envisage the dramatic changes that might take place in the coming years.

The principles of decolonial imagination

The first principle for decolonial imagination is the use of the concept of civilization to analyze world history. In Marxism they use class as a concept of analysis. In Liberalism is about individualism. A civilization is a collection of societies with a specific cultural base: knowledge, ethics and views on how to organize and structure a society. It has economic institutions that produce goods and services that can sustain highly developed social, political and cultural institutions. It has political institutions that structure the relationship between the rulers and those being ruled in the form of a state. It has social institutions that organizes social relations in a civilization. It has a cultural base with institutions for knowledge production (universities) and knowledge dissemination (media, education) that produces material and non-material culture.

Western civilization is based on colonialism. It is very young (500 years) and already its demise has already started. Israel is part of Western colonialism: the last vestige of an apartheid settler state. So if I talk about the demise of Israel I put it in the context of the demise of Western colonialism and Western civilization.

The second principle of decolonial imagination is to answer the question: what are the forces behind the demise of Western power and civilization? In the DTM framework I look at four forces: economic, social, political and cultural.

We are living in a different economic world compared to 50 years ago. China is now the largest economy and is a key driver in world economy. The economic power of the West had deteriorated to such an extent that it has lost much of its financial and economic power. It is not the driver in technological innovations. China is. The economic power that backs Israel is not as strong as it used to be.

The social institution of racism – the organization of social relations on the basis of superiority and inferiority along racial and ethnic lines – is eroding rapidly. If someone would have told you in 2006 that a black man would be president of the American empire in 2009 and receive the Nobel Prize for peace while carrying out the largest bombardment of Afghanistan, you would not believe it. If someone would have told you in 2020 that a Indian Hindu would be prime minister of the United Kingdom in two years time you would dismiss this is nonsense. Yet all these things are happening. They us that the social institution of racism that supports the base structure of Western civilization are not so strong anymore. Israel is seen by themselves and the West as part of Western social institutions.

The international political institutions of the West have lost their hegemonic influence in the world. New institutions are gaining more influence by the day: BRICS and SCO. Regional powers are gaining international strength: Western Asia with Iran as a major power; Latin Abya Yala (former Latin America) with Venezuela and Cuba as leading states. In Africa South Africa is a leading power in Africa. The continent as a whole is asserting is influence in global matters. Israel is functioning in this international political climate. And is a weaker party in international politics. There are desperate efforts with the Abraham Accords to reverse this trend, but they are going against the historical process of the decline of Western political power.

Western cultural power is declining. Everywhere in the world there is a movement for decolonizing knowledge. It is critique of the Western Enlightenment, the basis of Western culture. There a rise of knowledge from other civilizations that are taking hold in different universities around the world. The support of the apartheid state of Israel in the West is organized by institutions like universities, media and other cultural institutions. I discuss the Israel Advocacy Handbook (IAH) to show that even the Zionist think that the support of Israel is declining. The IAH is a guide on how to colonize the mind in Western Europe and the USA to mobilize support for Israel. It says: “In the last decade, there has been a dangerous and steady erosion in international perceptions regarding the legitimacy of Israel. At the same time, there is an erosion of support for Israel on particular issues in both the United States and Europe. The two problems are intimately related. The crisis is more serious in Europe than in the USA. There is not yet an Israel public relations disaster in the USA, where support levels generally hover between 50 and 63%, but even there, the problem cannot be ignored.”[3]

My conclusion is that the current war takes place in an international context that might lead to the dissolution of the state of Israel. The international economic, social, political and cultural power for this support has been severely weakened.

The third principle of decolonial imagination is the proposition that injustice will someday come to an end. Western slavery has lasted 350 years in Abya Yala. Apartheid in South Africa came to an end thirty years ago. The occupation of Palestine will come to end. The question is not whether it will come to an end, but when and how?

The lessons from the resistance

The first lesson from the resistance against the occupation of Palestine is that it has grown in strength to an unprecedented scale in its history.

The colonization of Palestine for the Jewish population started well before the Holocaust. In 1917 the British launched an attack against the Ottomans and captured Palestine.

On entering the city of Jerusalem British general Edmund Allenby declared: “The wars of the Crusades are now complete.” Palestine was now a British colony.

Fifteen years after Herzl’s letter the Jewish lobby was able to successfully press the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, to make a declaration on November 9, 1917, in which he announced: “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.”

The Zionist colonization of Palestine began with a systematic increase of the Jewish population through immigration. In 1917 Jews constituted 3% of the Palestinian population. Under British rule Jewish immigration led to an increase of their share to 30% in 1938.133 Already in this period Zionists had purchased land, uprooted Palestinian farmers with the protection of the British and taken control of the economy with the support of capital from the Jewish Diaspora. This led to repeated revolts by the Palestinians in 1920, 1921, 1929 and a big revolt between 1936 and 1939. A brutal repression of that revolt by the British with the active assistance of Jewish paramilitary forces led to 19,792 Arab casualties, of which 5,032 were fatalities. After World War II, the Zionist colonization of Palestine that began before the Holocaust gained a disastrous momentum when Zionist paramilitary forces started a guerrilla campaign against the British army in order to establish a Jewish state and a terror campaign against the Palestinians in order to expel them from their homes and land. On May 14, 1948, they proclaimed the establishment of a Jewish state on Palestinian land. By the end of the Zionist terror campaign, 700,000 Palestinians had been driven out of Palestine. Their houses and lands were taken over by Jews who came from Europe and the US. People who were born and raised in New York, Amsterdam, London or Paris went to Palestine and occupied the land and houses of Palestinians whose ancestors had lived there for thousands of years. In 1964, sixteen years after the foundation of the apartheid state of Israel in 1948 the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established to further the liberation of Palestine through armed struggle. The PLO carried out many attacks, but the brutal response of Zionists drove the PLO on the defensive. They had to retreat from Israel, Jordan and Lebanon, eventually moving to Tunisia. It eventually led to negotiations that were concluded in the Oslo Accords in 1993 with the two-state solution. It turned out to be a political defeat for the Palestinians. The Oslo Accords had led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994 as an administrative entity for the future state of Palestine. It had limited administrative power over the Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank.

The two-state solution envisioned an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel. From the very start the two-state solution was doomed. It was an agreement on paper only, reached after considerable pressure of the US on Israel. Israel did not accept an independent Palestinian state. It did everything possible to torpedo the Oslo Accords. The Palestinians had no alternative but to struggle for one free State of Palestine in the occupied territories.

In December 1987 the first intifada began with stone-throwing Palestinians and eventually led to the formation of Hamas as a liberation movement dedicated to armed struggle.

In 2000 the second intifada started as a protest against the visit of butcher Ariel Sharon to the Al-Aqsa Mosque site in Jerusalem. It developed into a large scale armed conflict that left 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis dead. It ended on February 8, 2005 with an agreement between Israel and the PA on a cease-fire and the release of 900 Palestinian prisoners.

Meanwhile in Gaza 8,000 Jewish settlers living among one million Palestinians in 21 settlements were faced with armed attacks from the resistance. The PA was supposed to prevent this. They could not. In 2005 (from August to September) Israel was forced to relocate the settlers from Gaza, because they could not protect them anymore.

In 2006 Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections and took control of the government of Gaza. In December 2008 the first Israeli war on Gaza started (Operation Cast Lead) when Israel began with aerial bombardments of Gaza after being unable to stop rocket attacks by the resistance. On January 3, 2009, Israel began a ground invasion of Gaza. On January 21 Israel withdrew its troops after a cease fire was reached under international pressure.

In March 2012, Israel killed a leader of the Palestinian resistance which led to retaliation and a full-scale war with aerial bombardments and rocket attacks. In October of the same year a new round of confrontation began that led to hundreds of Palestinian deaths. In 2014, the worst round of fighting was during a 50-day bombardment of Gaza that resulted in more than 2,000 Palestinians being killed.

In May 2021 the eviction of six Palestinian families living in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah led to mass protests and eventually to a war that lasted for eleven days.

The conclusion from this chronology is that the spirit of resistance is unbroken. The struggle of the Palestinian people comes with a huge price in human suffering. But they have shown that they are willing to pay the price, because the alternative is an eternal life of suffering, humiliation and oppression for them, their children and grandchildren.

The current confrontation that began yesterday is a next level confrontation. The resistance went into Israel with a ground invasion and captured many Israeli’s to bring them to Gaza, among them high ranking officers of the Israeli army. This is unheard of. It defies Western imagination. And it brings to the fore the question: what else is in store for them?

Just from two days of fighting it is clear that whatever follows in the coming day: Hamas has achieved a major victory. The shattered the idea that Israeli’s are safe inside of Israel and their army can always protect them. That is a big victory in itself.

In the book I have explained there are a few factors that will lead to the downfall of the state of Israel:

  1. There is a growing unity among all major factions in the resistance.
  2. Arabs in Israel will become an important factor in future confrontation. The longer a confrontation is going on, the greater the chances are that they will get involved in armed struggle. In 2021 they took to the streets in Akka, Lod, Ramla, the Negev, Galilee, and Wadi Ara.
  3. Many Palestinians thought that a military victory over Israel is impossible. In 2021 it turned out that this is a false idea. At the first day of the current confrontation shows that in a more spectacular way. The stunning way in which the Resistance attacked Israel through a ground offensive emphasized the idea that the Israeli army is not omnipotent.
  4. The war of 2021 shows that there was a clear international coordination of the resistance: Gaza, Lebanon, Iran and even Iraq. The coordination will only grow in any confrontation that will go on for a longer period.

For the first time in the history of the occupation there is a real possibility that Israel can be defeated militarily. So how will this defeat look like. If your mind is colonized, you will not be able to imagine the dissolution of Israel. But look, already on our lifetime we have seen the dissolution of the German Democratic Republic on October 3, 1990 and the state of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991.

I foresee two ways in which Israel will cease to exist. The first is by military means. Now Hamas has entered Israel with a few hundred fighter. Imagine a situation in which tens of thousands of fighters from different parts of the world stage and all out attack, capture the military barracks and command control centers, destroy the airfields, destroy the iron dome and capture the nuclear stockpile of Israel. And this all is supported by the state infrastructure of Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Iran. It this impossible? Well think about other things that you thought were impossible and yet they happened.

The second way is the peaceful dissolution of the apartheid state of Israel. The people of Israel come to their senses after they have seen that it is impossible to live a safe live in Palestine. The vote with their feet and leave Palestine. They talk to Europe to organize a peaceful transition to a one state solution.

Given the mindset of the West I think the first option is more likely than the second one.

I have put the relevant paragraphs from the book for a free download here.

Check these links

[1] S. Hira: “Decolonizing The Mind – A Guide to Decolonial Theory and Practice”. Amrit Publisher. The Hague 2023, p. 511.

[2] Idem, p. 512.

[3] Idem, p. 90.

DTM Book tour in October in the UK

Sandew Hira, secretary of Decolonial International Network, is visiting the UK on a new book tour. He will be speaking in Wembley, London at the bookshop of the Islamic Human Rights Commission on October 12 and at the Queens Mary University in London on October 13. On October 15 he will be speaking in Cambridge at the Cambridge Stop the War Coalition. See for more information: https://www.ihrc.org.uk/decolonizing-the-mind-book-tour-with-sandew-hira/.

DTM Tour in September 2023

In September Sandew Hira will continue his DTM tour. From Monday 11 to Friday 15 September, he is invited by the Simon Bolivar Institute in Caracas, Venezuela, to conduct a weeklong series of DTM lectures under the title From Repairs to Reconstruction.

Currently the discussion on reparations is about correcting historical injustice within the current world civilization. Hira proposes to bring the discussion to the level of transcending the current world civilization that produced these injustices to a new world civilization that is based on the reconstruction of knowledge and decolonizing the mind.

On September 20, Hira will give a keynote speech in the first of a Webinar series “UMXHOLO” from Walter Sisulu University in South Africa. The Webinar series will be launched by the Vice Chancellor and Principal , Prof. dr. RN Songca , of WSU. The webinar will run from 9-11 am. You can register via this link: https://forms.office.com/r/dSL67zDcCL .

The speech can be followed via https :// msteams.link /6QNO . For more information mail to Busiswa Ngceni, email: bngceni@wsu.ac.za .

Hira’s book is now being translated into Persian by Ebrahim Mohseni and will probably be published and presented in Iran in the first half of next year.

July 6-10: Decolonizing The Mind on Curacao

From July 6 to July Sandew Hira will visit Hira Curacao as part of DTM. After his book launch in Europe from January to April, he visited nine universities in South Africa and Zambia in May. In July he has an intensive four-day program on Curaçao. Friday morning there is a meeting with writers who are committed to rewriting the history books of Curaçao. Friday evening there is a meet and greet session with key figures in social movements and education organized by Fundashon Museo Tula. On Saturday he will give a keynote speech at the conference “Decolonizing The Mind in Curaçao”. On Sunday he will give a public lecture on slavery and reparations for activists from the Curaçao community. On Monday, Fundashon Museo Tula and the Decolonial International Network Foundation will sign an MOU before he leaves for Amsterdam.

A new phase in the development of the global decolonial movement

Sandew Hira, 1-6-2023

Introduction

From May 1 till May 26 I visited nine universities in South Africa and Zambia in my capacity as secretary of the DIN Foundation and as author of the book Decolonizing The Mind. The trip taught me a lot about where we are in the global decolonial movement right now and where we should be heading.

Here is an overview of the trip.

  1. South Africa – University of Cape Town (UCT)

I began on May 2 in Cape Town with a lecture on How mathematics and the hard sciences were colonized and how to decolonize them. Frank Kronenberg and Dr. Tiri Chinyoka were the organizers of the event.

  1. South Africa – University of Western Cape (UWC)

Bassey Antia, an applied linguist from UWC, contacted me after a Zoom lecture that I gave at the Pennsylvania State University which he attended. He wanted to work with my in applying the DTM theoretical framework to the field of applied linguistics. On May 2 and 3 he organized a mini-conference with four of his PhD students from Ghana and Cameroon on this topics. On May 4 he organized a public lecture at UWC.

  1. South Africa – University of Pretoria

On May 8 I gave a book presentation at the University of Pretoria. This was organized by Adekeye Adebayo. He is a prolific writer and an expert on international affairs.

  1. South Africa – UNISA in Pretoria

On May 9 I spoke at the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Johannesburg. Professor Grace Khunou and her team has been so kind to host me at UNISA. Nokuthula Hlabangane has been instrumental in linking me to Grace. UNISA was the center for the decolonial movement in South Africa.

  1. Zambia – Kwame Nkrumah University in Kabwe

On May 10 I flew to Zambia where I had dinner with Jive Lubbungu in Kabwe, 140 km from Lusaka. Jive has been preparing the ground for a cooperation between DIN and the Kwame Nkrumah university through an MOU. On May 11 I visited the VC, the deputy VC and the dean. Jive also organized a meeting with staff members for an introductory presentation on DTM. They are the people who are going to work with the DTM Center of Excellence.

  1. Zambia – University of Zambia in Lusaka

On May 11 I had dinner with Yvonne Kabombwe and Ferdinand Chipindi in Lusaka. For many months Yvonne Kabombwe and Ferdinand Chipindi have been preparing the ground for a Memorandum of Understanding between DIN and the University of Zambia in Lusaka. The MOU entails the establishment of a DTM center of Excellence (Chipindi came up with the term).

On May 12 I gave a public lecture at the University of Zambia in Lusaka. After that I had a lunch meeting with the board of the Education Research Association of Zambia (ERAZ) headed by Sitwe Benson. This was a very important meeting. ERAZ is an organization of about 100 members (researchers) at different universities of Zambia. It is a national network.

  1. South Africa – University of Kwazulu Natal in Durban

On May 16 I spoke at the University of Kwazulu Natal in Durban about decolonizing mathematics and the hard sciences. After the lecture the organizer invited me to talk to 10 members of the staff about what it means to decolonize the hard sciences and how they could get involved.

  1. South Africa – University of the Free State Bloemfontein

On May 22 The Centre for Gender and Africa Studies (CGAS), The International Office, and the University of the Free State Library of UFS organized the presentation of my book. Two days later I attended the Africa Day Memorial Lecture by Prof. M. Thabane. Africa Day is a huge event at UFS.

On May 26 I participated as a speaker in the 2023 UFS Africa Month Dialogue. Munyaradzi Mushonga was the host and MC. The theme of the Dialogue is Promoting and appreciating knowledge in and from Africa. I spoke on the topic “The importance of being creators and co-creators of knowledge (in and from Africa”). Prof. Francis Peterson, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of UFS, participated in the Dialogue.

  1. South Africa – Central University of Technology Bloemfontein

On May 25 I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Africa Day organized by the Central University of Technology. In South Africa the foundation of the African Union is celebrated as the Africa Day. Apparently it is a huge event in many universities. The communication was done by Sekoele Ramajoe, coordinator of international affairs at Home Projects. I asked for a lunch meeting on May 24 with his colleagues. Leolyn Jackson, a Senior Lecturer, Head of Student Enrolment, Director of the Southern African-Nordic Centre (SANORD) and Director of the International Relations Office is a key figure at CUT. He is keen on working with us.

The lessons

The central question that came up time and again is: what is decolonial theory about and what is its practical relevance? What does it mean to decolonize the university, and for that matter, the society and the world?

In my interaction with many people in Africa I argued that we need to move from the current stage of general decolonial critique of Eurocentrism to specific critique and alternatives per discipline. Moving from general critique to specific critique per discipline makes it easier to make the transition from theory to practice. If you decolonize economic theory, you are forced to also decolonize economic policy.

This transition requires a different type of decolonial thinkers and activists. We need more experts from the different disciplines involved in order to produce the critique and alternative per discipline.

It is not an easy transition. Take the question of decolonial economic theory and policy. The European Enlightenment has produced two economic schools: Liberalism that argues for an economic system based on private property and markets and Marxism that fights for an planned economy and the abolition of private property and markets. The first system is called capitalism and the second socialism. Many decolonial activists are against capitalism. Does that mean that they are for socialism? What is so decolonial about socialism? If the only categories you know is capitalism and socialism, then decolonial theory ends up being part of Marxism with is appeal for socialism. But we already have decades of experience with planned economy, and the results are questionable.

I argue that there are other economic systems possible besides capitalism and socialism. Islam and Buddhism, but also Chinese philosophy have produced systems that are more successful and appeal more to social justice than capitalism and socialism. Decolonial economic theory looks beyond the dichotomy that the European Enlightenment has produced in order to find solutions to practical economic problems of today.

In a similar way I focused in my lectures and discussion on decolonizing the hard sciences, because often people think that this is not possible: mathematics, physics, biology. With common sense one can understand that this is possible, as I explain in my book.

If the decolonial movement does not make this transition, it will become a relic of the past, a fashion that come and goes like all fashions.

The organizational problem

Africa also taught me about an organizational model that might work for the decolonial movement in academia. We have to experiment with that model. Dr. Ferdinand Chipindi from the University of Zambia came up with the idea of a DTM Center of Excellence. It focuses on Decolonizing The Mind but in such a way that it contribute to the improvement of excellence. Such a center is based on concrete projects.

Some ideas about projects that were discussed are:

  1. A new system of performance assessment for higher education that includes monitoring the extent to which a university is decolonized and a new measurement of excellence in higher education.
  2. A decolonial math book for primary and secondary education.
  3. The decolonial history app.
  4. A research database on reparations that documents activities on reparations across the globe in different languages.
  5. A database of measures of economic boycotts and how to avoid the effects.
  6. Reconstructing the discipline of law.

The projects should be carried out by students and staff in a certain discipline. And they should engage in working together with other centers and people from other universities. There are many problems that need to be tackled, not in the least the problem of funding. But there are many ideas about how to get these projects going.

In that process we will find and experiment with solutions so we can see what works and what does not work.

The way forward

After my return from Africa I immediately got involved in a Zoom panel on Eurocentrism, organised by the Pakistan Institute for Development Economics (PIDE), a university in Pakistan that focuses on economic theory and policy. Prof. Asad Zaman introduced me to PIDE. He studied mathematics at the MIT in the US and economics and statistics at Stanford University. He is also a specialist on Islamic thinking. He is former Vice-Chancellor of PIDE. He is a prolific writer and has a broad interest and knowledge. I was amazed by extent to which he could combine a wide range of disciplines with Islamic thinking. Asad suggested that we develop a course on the history of Western philosophy from the perspective of Islam and DTM. I think this is a valuable suggestion.

The experience in Africa and the discussion with Asad show me the way forward.

We need to train a new generation of scholars and activists to look at practical problems from a pluriversal perspective, from different civilizational backgrounds. We need to decolonize academia from the distinctive disciplines and move beyond general theories. These are all steps towards building a new world civilization.

SHOULD GANDHI’S STATUE FALL?

Sandew Hira

Introduction

Is the defacement and tearing down of statues of Gandhi a progressive step in the fight against racism? For some activists, the answer is unequivocal: “Yes”. Gandhi made a number of racist statements about black people. Such a person does not deserve a statue. For many people, especially in the Indian community, Gandhi is the leader of the Indian liberation struggle against British colonialism and is honored in many ways. The defacement and tearing down of his statue is viewed with horror. How should you deal with this as a decolonial activist?

You should start by trying to get the facts about Gandhi and the black struggle? What  are the facts?

Gandhi ‘s sayings go back to his collected works which are available for free download on the internet . It concerns 98 volumes of an average of 500 pages, so there is a total of about 50,000 pages. It was commissioned by the Indian government. The material was collected between 1956 and 1994 and is now available. The compilers did not censor the publications, so you also have Gandhi ‘s statements that he would be ashamed of if he was alive.

Gandhi was born in Gujarat , India, on October 2, 1869, and was assassinated at the age of 79 by a Hindu fundamentalist on January 30, 1948, six months after India declared its independence on August 15, 1947.

Gandhi graduated as a lawyer in London at the age of 22 and returned to his native country where it was difficult for him to set up a practice. In April 1893 he left for South Africa to become legal adviser to an Indian businessman. He would stay there for 21 years and become closely involved in the struggle of the India community against apartheid. In 1915, at the age of 45, he returned to India where he successfully led the fight against British colonialism that resulted in India’s independence.

Gandhi ‘s relationship with the black community involves two communities:

  • South Africa.
  • The black community in the US.

The accusation of racism relates to his time in South Africa.

South Africa

South Africa as we know it today emerged in 1948 as a unitary state. The Western colonization of South Africa began with the establishment of a military fortress and trading post on the Cape by the Dutch East India Company in 1652 under Jan van Riebeeck . They forced black people into slavery. In 1795, the Dutch faced competition from another colonial power, England, who eventually took control of the area in 1815. The Dutch and British regularly went to war against each other. The Dutch Boers separated themselves into four independent republics: Transvaal, Orange Free State, Natal and the Cape. In 1869 diamond was found in Transvaal and Orange Free State and in 1886 gold in Transvaal. The British tried to gain control over these areas. In 1880 the first Anglo-Boers war was fought which was won by the Dutch Boers. In 1899 the second Anglo-Boer war took place which brought the British the final victory over the Boers in 1902. Gandhi would live through this war and sided with the British. He offered help to the British in the form of nurses from the Hindustani community.

The Indian community in South Africa has two sources of origin: several thousand enslaved people from Bengal and South India who were brought to the Cape by Van Riebeeck and associates in the seventeenth century and 150,000 indentured laborers who were brought under the system between 1860 and 1911 from “ indentured labour ”. They were recruited in India and taken to South Africa to work on the sugar plantations in Natal . They were British subjects. Gandhi was active in this community. The relationship between the Indians and Africans was complex. On the one hand, both groups were suppressed for the white population through apartheid legislation. The land of Africans had been stolen by the white colonizer. He then deployed black police officers to keep the contract workers in check with brute force: the old divide-and-conquer tactic.

In 1888, the Pass Law for Indians was introduced in Natal to control their movements in apartheid society. Gandhi arrived in South Africa in 1893 and soon began to lead the movement against the pass law. He was sent to prison four times for his resistance.

The criticism of Gandhi in South Africa concerns three points:

  • Gandhi was an admirer of the British system.
  • Gandhi supported the British during a rebellion of black Africans led by Bambatha kaMancinza in 1906.
  • Gandhi made racist statements about black people.

Admirer of the British system

Two South African Historians – Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed – make this point in their book “The South African Gandhian – Stretcher Bearer of the Empire”. [1] They quote Gandhi from are farewell speech in Cape Town in 1914 when he decided go back to India: “I have always believed there is something subtle, something fine in the ideals of the British Constitution. Tear away those ideals and you tear away my loyalty to that Constitution; keep those ideals and I am ever a bondman. [Cheers] Both races should see that those ideals of the British Constitution always remained a sacred treasure.” [2]

Desai and Vahed don’t pose the question: how is it possible with this attitude of Gandhi to become a leader in the struggle for Indian independence from Britain? It is a fair question to ask.The answer is simple. Gandhi was colonized in his mind in 1914 and had to undergo a mental liberation in order to assume the role of leader of the liberation movement. Is it difficult to understand that people grow in their spiritual development? Desai and Vahed don’t go into this question which is crucial in the assessment of Gandhi’s contribution to the world.

We see the admiration for the Western system among more anti-colonial leaders. In 1964 Nelson Mandela gives a comparison between communism and the Western system. “From my reading of Marxist literature and from conversations with Marxists, I have gained the impression that Communists regard the parliamentary system of the West as undemocratic and reactionary. But, on the contrary, I am an admirer of such a system. The Magna Carta , the Petition of Rights and the Bill of Rights, are documents which are held in veneration by democrats throughout the world. I have great respect for British political institutions, and for the country’s system of justice. I regard the British Parliament as the most democratic institution in the world, and the independence and impartiality of its judiciary never fail to arouse my admiration. The American Congress, that country’s doctrine of separation of powers, as well as the independence of its judiciary, arouse in me similar sentiments.” [3]

Should we bring down statues of Mandela because of this quote?

Support for the British in the 1906 Rebellion

In 1906, the British introduced new tax laws. Africans led by Bambatha kaMancinza from the Zulu community organized an armed uprising against the British. The uprising was bloodily crushed. Gandhi had offered the British to mobilize nurses from the Indian community for the colonizer.

Desai and Vahed point to this pro-imperialist action of Gandhi and they are right : “The Gandhian pattern that emerges during the South African War and the Bhambatha Rebellion is the erasure of Africans as a people who suffered and resisted a brutal system. Alongside this was the use of war and violence as opportunities to display loyalty to local settlers and, by extension, to the British Empire.” [4]  We advocate solidarity with other oppressed groups. The fight against colonialism and imperialism is international. Gandhi was on the wrong side of history in 1906. Gandhi himself explains his attitude as follows: “We are in Natal by virtue of British power. Our very existence depends upon it. It is therefore our duty to render whatever help we can.” [5]

Later his attitude would change radically, but Desai and Vahed don’t mention that.

Racist statements

Teachers of the University of Ghana have filed a petition asking the board to remove Gandhi ‘s statue from the university grounds. In that petition they cites a number of racist quotes from the collected works of which Gandhi should be ashamed. Here are some quotes:

  • “A general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.” [6]
  • “In the face, too, of financial operations, the success of which many of their detractors would envy, one fails to understand the agitation which would place the operators in the same category as the half-heathen Native and confine him to Locations, and subject him to the harsher laws by which the Transvaal Kaffir is governed.” [7]
  • “So far as the feeling has been expressed, it is to degrade the Indian to the position of the Kaffir.” [8]
  • Desai and Vahed add: “In The Green Pamphlet Gandhi objected to the fact that ‘Indians are classed with the natives of South Africa—Kaffir races’ . For example, Indians had to use the same entrance as Africans at the post office in Durban. ‘We felt the indignity too much and . . . petitioned the authorities to do away with the individual distinction and they have now provided three separate entrances for natives, Asiatics and Europeans.’ Gandhi was irate that ‘the sons of this land of light [India] are despised as coolies and treated as Kaffirs’ “. [9]

The general picture from such quotes is that Gandhi regarded black Africans as inferior to Indians. If you are reading this, you should be outraged by these statements and not try to understand them. The question you also have to ask, however, is whether Gandhi has kept these views for the rest of his life or has said goodbye to them.

In the collected works you will also find other quotes from Gandhi which are the opposite of the one mentioned above.

  • “I regard the Kaffirs, with whom I constantly work these days, as superior to us. What they do in their ignorance we have to do knowingly.” [10](1910 quote)
  • “In cocoa plantations, Negro workers are subjected to such inhuman treatment that if we witnessed it with our own eyes we would have no desire to drink cocoa.” [11] (1913 quote)
  • Among the Negroes, the tallest and the most handsome are the Zulus. I have deliberately used the epithet ‘handsome, in connection with Negroes. A fair complexion and a pointed nose represent our ideal of beauty. If we discard this superstition for a moment, we feel that the Creator did not spare Himself in fashioning the Zulu to perfection. Men and women are both tall and broad- chested in proportion to their height. Their muscles are strong and well set. The calves of the legs and the arms are muscular and always well rounded. You will rarely find a man or woman walking with a stoop or with a hump back. The lips are certainly large and thick, but as they are in prefect symmetry with the entire physique, I for one would not say that they are unshapely. The eyes are round and bright. The nose is flat and large, such as becomes a large face and the curled hair on the head sets off to advantage the Zulu’s skin which is black and shining like ebony. If we ask a Zulu to which of the various races inhabiting South Africa he will award the palm for beauty, he will unhesitatingly decide in favor of his own people, and in this I would not see any want of judgment on his part. The physique of the Zulu is powerfully built and finely shaped by nature without any such effort as is made by Sandow and others in Europe in order to develop the muscles. It is a law of nature that the skin of races living near the equator should be black. And if we believe that there must be beauty in everything fashioned by nature, we would not only steer clear of all narrow and one-sided conceptions of beauty, but we in India would be free from the improper sense of shame and dislike which we feel for our own complexion. If it ‘s anything but fair.” [12] (1926 quote).

The earlier quotes are from his early period in South Africa and the later ones are from 1910, 1913 and 1926. Should we leave out the latter quotes, as Desai and Vahed do, if we to make a assessment of Gandhi’s contribution to the world?

His views on blacks were later mainly determined by his view of the struggles of the black community in America.

The black community in the US

Gandhi wrote a lot. He also wrote regularly about the plight of blacks in America. In 1926 he wrote: “The Negroes of the United States have accepted Western civilization. They have embraced Christianity. But the black pigment of their skin constitutes their crime, and if in the Northern States they are socially despised, they are lynched in the Southern States on the slightest suspicion of wrongdoing.” [13]

He regularly published articles on the injustices that were done to blacks. Take this example: “In South Carolina (USA) a white man stole a motor car. He’s got four weeks. The same Court of Justice sentenced a Negro to three years’ penal servitude for stealing a bicyle . A Delaware (USA) ‘colored’ man was sentenced to death for committing rape on a white girl. At Alabama (USA) two whites were fined $. 250 each for committing rape on colored girls.” [14]

In 1929 he made a comparison between the caste system in India and the US: “There can be no true comparison between the two. They are dissimilar. Depressed and oppressed as the untouchable is in his own country, there is no legal discrimination in force against him as it is in the case of the Negro in America. Then, though our orthodoxy sometimes betrays a hardness of heart that cannot but cause deep anguish to a humanitarian, the superstitious prejudice against the untouchable never breaks out into such savage fury as it does sometimes in America against the Negro. The lynching of the Negro is not an uncommon occurrence in America. But in India such things are impossible because of our tradition of nonviolence. Not only that, the humanitarian sentiment in India has so far prevailed against caste prejudice as to result even in the canonization of individual untouchables. We have several untouchable saints. I wonder whether you have any Negro saints among you. The prejudice against untouchability is fast wearing out. I wish somebody could assure me that the tide of color prejudice had spent itself in America.” [15]

Eight years later, he returns to the comparison and emphasizes how in India the caste system was part of the Hindu religion, while in the US it was not. Gandhi: “Can it be a divine law that some persons are born untouchables and remain so for generations? Even men do not have such a law. It does not exist anywhere in this world. The duty of Negroes in America is very bad. They are untouchables but they are not considered to have been born so. Treating them as untouchables is not considered a dharma. There are a vast number of people who treat Negroes as untouchables but such behavior is not considered a part of religion.” [16]

Gandhi had a conversation with black American soldiers in Madras. A soldier asked him: “There are several religions in the world. They were all originated in foreign countries. Which one of these should Africa follow? Or should she discover her own religion? If so, how?”

This is Gandhi’s answer : “It is wrong to say that all religions were originated in foreign countries. I had fairly extensive contact with Zulus and Bantus and I found that the Africans have a religion of their own, though they may not have reasoned it out for themselves. I am not referring to the rites, ceremonies and fetishes that are prevalent among African tribes but the religion of one Supreme God. You pray to that God.” [17]

Here he begins to recognize that you have to reason outside the box and recognize that there is such a thing as an Indigenous African philosophy with its own roots.

Another soldier asked : “How can a continent like Africa fight down the fetters of slavery when it is so hopelessly divided?”

Gandhi: “The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. He frees himself and shows the way to others. Freedom and slavery are mental states. Therefore the first thing is to say to yourself: ‘I shall no longer accept the role of a slave. I shall not obey orders as such but shall disobey them when they are in conflict with my conscience.’ The so-called master may lash you and try to force you to serve him. You will say: ‘No, I will not serve you for your money or under a threat.’ This may mean suffering. Your readiness to suffer will light the torch of freedom which can never be put out.” [18]

Gandhi took up the issue of mental slavery and the need for the decolonization of the mind. Writes in 1931 he about the British education system in India: “We know what history we learn in schools and what we have to unlearn by bitter experience. We are taught to imagine the blessings and virtues of British rule; we learn, as we grow, to know the contrary. Our greatest enemy is therefore ignorance often spread willingly to prejudice us.” [19]

Finally a soldier asked: “Africa and India both drink of the cup of slavery. What necessary steps can be taken to unite the two nations so as to present a common front?”

And Gandhi makes the following connection : “India is not yet free and yet Indians have begun to realize that their freedom is coming, not because the white man says so but because they have developed the power within. In as much as India’s struggle is non-violent, it is a struggle for the emancipation of all oppressed races against superior might. I do not propose mechanical joint action between them. ‘Each one has to find his own salvation’ its true of this as well as of the other world. It is enough that there is a real moral bond between Asiatics and Africans. it will grow as time passes.” [20]

He was right. Black leaders from America connected with Gandhi. The most notable is Marcus Garvey. Garvey had built an international organization of radical black activists with over a million members. Garvey was well aware of the tensions between Africans and other colonized communities, including between Indians and Africans. But Garvey saw Gandhi ‘s significance to the international struggle against colonialism. In 1924, when his organization was at the height of its development, Garvey sent a telegram to Gandhi that read: “The Negroes of the world through us send you greetings for fight for the freedom of your people and country. We are with you. Fourth Annual International Convention Negro Peoples of the World. Marius Garney , Chairman.” [21] Two years later, his wife , Amy Jacques Garvey sent, two books by Garvey to Gandhi (“The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey” and “Africa for Africans”). Gandhi sent her a note of thanks on May 12, 1926. [22]

Another important black leader, the founder of the NAACP, WEB du Bois, was in regular contact with Gandhi . Du Bois published articles by Gandhi in his monthly magazine Crisis. Du Bois was a Pan-Africanist . Many Pan-Africanists in West Africa were inspired by Gandhi .

The core of that inspiration lay in the strategy that Gandhi had developed with regard to . nonviolent resistance. One of the early leaders of the civil rights movement in America was Howard Thurman (1899-1981). He was an African American theologian and a mentor to Martin Luther King. Thurman writes in his autobiography about his trip to India and meeting Gandhi : “He had questions . Never in my life have I been a part of that examination: persistent pragmatic questions about American Negroes, about the course of slavery, and how we had survived it. One of the things that puzzled him was why the slaves did not become Muslems . “Because,” he said, “the Moslem religion is the only religion in the world in which no lines are drawn from within the religious fellowship. Once you are in, you are all the way in. This is not true in Christianity, it is not true in Buddhism or Hinduism. If you would have become Moslem, then even though you were a slave, in the faith you would be equal to your master…. He wanted to know about voting rights, lynching, discrimination, public school education, the churches and how they functioned. His questions covered the entire sweep of our experience in American society.” [23]

Thurman was an important leader in the American civil rights movement. He was a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. King had studied Gandhi’s techniques of nonviolent resistance especially with the bus boycott in Montgomery. King writes in his autobiography : “Like most people, I had heard of Gandhi, but I had never studied him seriously. As I read I became deeply fascinated by his campaigns of nonviolent resistance. I was particularly moved by his Salt March to the Sea and his numerous fasts. The whole concept of Satyagraha ( Satya is truth which equals love, and agraha is force; Satyagraha, therefore, means truth force or love force) was profoundly significant to me. As I delved deeper into the philosophy of Gandhi, my skepticism concerning the power of love gradually diminished, and I came to see for the first time its potency in the area of social reform.” [24]

The strategy, tactics and techniques developed by Gandhi were adopted by large groups of black activists in Montgomery. King: “In the summer of 1957 the name of Mahatma Gandhi was well known in Montgomery. People who had never heard of the little brown saint of India were now saying his name with an air of familiarity. Nonviolent resistance had emerged as the technique of the movement, while love stood as the regulating ideal. In other words, Christ furnished the spirit and motivation while Gandhi furnished the method.” [25]

King has described, explained and defended his strategy of nonviolence in his book Stride Toward Freedom. He goes into detail on all philosophical, strategic, tactical and technical aspects of nonviolent resistance, including the arguments against this strategy. At every step he harks back to what he has learned from Gandhi .

Prime minister Nehru of India was in the US and invited King and his wife Coretta to visit India. Gandhi was already dead by then.

King describes his experience in India: “We had a grand reception in India. The people showered upon us the most generous hospitality imaginable. Almost every door was open so that our party was able to see some of India’s most important social experiments and talk with leaders in and out of government, ranging from Prime Minister Nehru, to village councilmen and Vinoba Bhave , the sainted leader of the land reform movement. Since our pictures were in the newspapers very often it was not unusual for us to be recognized by crowds in public places and on public conveyances. Occasionally I would take a morning walk in the large cities, and out of the most unexpected places someone would emerge and ask: “Are you Martin Luther King?” We had hundreds of invitations that the limited time did not allow us to accept. We were looked upon as brothers, with the color of our skins as something of an asset. But the strongest bond of fraternity was the common cause of minority and colonial peoples in America, Africa, and Asia struggling to throw off racism and imperialism. We had the opportunity to share our views with thousands of Indian people through endless conversations and numerous discussion sessions. I spoke before university groups and public meetings all over India. Because of the keen interest that the Indian people have in the race problem these meetings were usually packed. Occasionally interpreters were used, but on the whole I spoke to audiences that understood English. The Indian people love to listen to the Negro spirituals. Therefore, Coretta ended up singing as much as I lectured. We discovered that autograph seekers are not confined to America. After appearances in public meetings and while visiting villages, we were often besieged for autographs. Even while riding planes, more than once pilots came into the cabin from the cockpit requesting our signatures. We got good press throughout our stay. Thanks to the Indian papers, the Montgomery bus boycott was already well known in that country. Indian publications perhaps gave a better continuity of our 381-day bus strike than did most of our papers in the United States. We held press conferences in all of the larger cities—Delhi, Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay—and talked with newspapermen almost everywhere we went. They asked sharp questions and at times appeared to be hostile, but that was just their way of bringing out the story that they were after. As reporters, they were scrupulously fair with us and in their editorials showed an amazing grasp of what was going on in America and other parts of the world.” [26]

It is interesting to see how King and his companions became acquainted with the issue of reparations and affirmative action in India for the “untouchables ” in a conversation with Nehru. He compares that policy with the policy in the US regarding black emancipation. King writes : “The Indian government spent millions of rupees annually developing housing and job opportunities in villages heavily inhabited by untouchables. Moreover, the prime minister said, if two applicants compete for entrance into a college or university, one of the applicants being an untouchable and the other of high caste, the school is required to accept the untouchable. Professor Lawrence Reddick , who was with me during the interview, asked: “But isn’t that discrimination?” “Well, it may be,” the prime minister answered. “But this is our way of atoning for the centuries of injustices we have involved upon these people.” From the prime minister down to the village councilmen, everybody declared publicly that untouchability is wrong. But in the United States some of our highest officials declined to render a moral judgment on segregation, and some from the South publicly boasted of their determination to maintain segregation. That would be unthinkable in India. Although discrimination has not yet been eliminated in India, it is a crime to practice discrimination against an untouchable.” [27]

King gave the gist again from the relationship between Africans and Indians : “The strongest bond of fraternity was the common cause of minority and colonial peoples in America, Africa, and Asia struggling to throw off racism and imperialism.”

Unity makes strength, division breaks strength

The issue of unity among oppressed peoples has been an important theme for many leaders in the colonized. European powers had colonized the world and ruthlessly oppressed and exploited the peoples. They have used the strategy of divide and conquer and the colonization of the mind. All the leaders of the liberation struggle against colonialism realized this essential rule: united we stand, divided we fall.

The divide-and-conquer strategy was often very effective. Among all colonized communities there is fear of the colonizer and anger at the humiliation, oppression and exploitation. The divide-and-conquer strategy directs the focus of fear and anger away from the colonizer and toears one’s own communities. In the black communities, the color shade was used as an instrument: the lighter the skin color, the better the social, economic and cultural position. In the multicultural communities, Africans were pitted against Asians and vice versa. And if that strategy was combined with mutual violence, the consequences for generations are incalculable: the anger is directly linked to suffering inflicted on each other.

In the Caribbean, Indians and Africans have been pitted against each other in elections. Politics was based on the manipulation of tensions between these populations. In 1950 the Marxist Chedi Jagan (India descent) and Forbes Burnham ( African descent) together founded the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) as a socialist party that would lead the fight for independence from England. The PPP won the 1953 elections and began to implement social reforms on its way to independence, which was finally achieved in 1966. The English sent soldiers to Guyana and deposed Jagan. The British and American intelligence services began to act on the PPP and effected a separation between Indians and Africans. That was effective. In the 1957 election, two factions of the PPP (Jagan and Burnham ) ran separately in the election, but Jagan won 9 of the 14 seats and Burnham 3. Many Africans had voted for Jagan. The CIA, with the support of the British, set up a campaign to drive the two populations apart. Anger about racism and colonialism were directed at each other. Colonized Indians tell racist stories from the white colonizer about the inferiority of Africans and their desire to rape Indian women. Africans tell racist stories from the colonizer about greedy Indians who want to exploit blacks. These tensions are combined with strikes and demonstrations and resulted in hundreds of deaths in the early 1960s. It has disrupted ethnic relations in Guyana for decades. Stephen Rabe , who has extensively documented the British-backed US intelligence campaign in Guyana, concludes: “US policymakers generated political instability and economic chaos and incited race warfare in the British colony .” [28]

Social movements often have to deal with intelligence services. The Black Panther Party in America has been wiped out by FBI infiltrators. The Russian revolutionary Victor Serge has compiled a handbook for revolutionaries entitled: “What everyone should know about suppression ”. The archives of the Russian intelligence service had fallen into the hands of the revolutionaries after the 1917 revolution. Serge explained in his handbook how intelligence services work to undermine social movements. An important element is the use of provocateurs who use divide-and-conquer strategies and create mutual distrust. [29]

A similar handbook was compiled fifty years later by American CIA agent Philip Agee entitled “ Inside the Company – CIA diary ”. [30] Agee spent 12 years working for the CIA in Latin America against anti-imperialist organizations. He later regretted it and collected his experiences in the form of a manual that has been used by social movements on how to deal with intelligence services.

The general lesson is: you fight divide and rule by putting the focus to where it belongs: the fight against colonialism. Leaders of the Asian and African liberation movements have understood this well. They know well the anger in their communities about humiliation and oppression and realize that that anger must have a focus: the colonizer. If that focus shifts to infighting, then you have lost an important battle.

The removal of statues of slaveholders has a clear focus: the colonizer. Removing Gandhi’s statue is not part of that. Gandhi was not part of the colonizer. He was colonized in his mind like many people of color. He decolonized his mind. Shifting the focus from the colonizer to him is part of divide-and-conquer . Therefore, decolonial activists should not support these actions. We can have a honest and balanced discussion on how to assess the contribution of leaders in our liberation struggle and include their weaknesses in their growth. That conversation is much needed. But it must be based on facts and the big picture. Then it is part of the growth of social movements, otherwise it becomes part of the divide-and-conquer strategy.

Sources

Agee, P. (1975): Inside the Company. CIA diary. Stonehill Publishing Company. London.

Carson, C. (1998): The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Sr.. IPM/Warner Books. New York.

Desai, A. and Vahed , G. (2016): The South African Gandhi. Stretcher Bearer of the Empire. Stanford University Press. Stanford.

Gandhi, M.K. (1956-1994(xx)): The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. https://www.gandhiheritageportal.org/the-collected-works-of-mahatma-gandhi. Accessed 6/19/2004 . The reference to the different parts is included in parentheses ( xx ).

King, M. L. (1958): Stride Toward Freedom. The Montgomery Story. Beacon Press. Boston.

Mandela, N. (1964): I am not a communist. From speech in his defense at the Rivonia Trial while Secretary General of the ANC, in June 1964. The speech is known by the title ‘I Am Prepared to Die’. in: Bragança , A. de and Wallerstein , I. (eds.) (1982), p. 91-95.

Petition (2016): Gandhi’s Statue at the University Of Ghana Must Come Down. https://www.change.org/p/the-members-of-the-university-of-ghana-council-gandhi-s-statue-at-the-university-of-ghana-must-come-down. Accessed 6/20/2020 .

Rabe , S. (2005): US intervention in British Guiana. A cold war story. Univ. Or North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill.

Serge, V. (1979): What everyone should know about repression. New Park Publications. Original: 1926.

[1] Desai, A. and Vahed , G. (2016): The South African Gandhi. Stretcher Bearer of the Empire. Stanford University Press. Stanford.

[2] Desai, A. and Vahed , G. (2016), p. 36.

[3] Mandela, N. (1964), p. 95.

[4] Desai, A. and Vahed , G. (2016), p. 89.

[5] Gandhi , M.K. (1956-1994 (1)), p. 179.

[6] Gandhi , M.K. (1956-1994 (1)), p. 193.

[7] Ditto, p. 225.

[8] Ditto, p. 229.

[9] Desai, A. and Vahed , G. (2016), p. 30.

[10] Gandhi , M.K. (1956-1994 (11)), p. 107.

[11] Gandhi , M.K. (1956-1994 (12)), p. 432.

[12] Gandhi , M.K. (1956-1994 (34)), p. 11-12.

[13] Ditto, p. 79.

[14] Gandhi , M.K. (1956-1994 (36)), p. 397.

[15] Gandhi , M.K. (1956-1994 (45)), p. 148.

[16] Gandhi , M.K. (1956-1994 (63)), p. 351.

[17] Gandhi , M.K. (1956-1994 (89)), p. 280.

[18] Ditto.

[19] Gandhi , M.K. (1956-1994 (52)), p. 102.

[20] Gandhi , M.K. (1956-1994 (89)), p. 280.

[21] Gandhi , M.K. (1956-1994 (29)), p. 28.

[22] Gandhi, M.K. (1956-1994 (36)), p. 361.

[23] Thurman, H. (1979), p. 132.

[24] Carson, C. (1998), p. 34.

[25] Carson, C. (1998), p. 72.

[26] Carson, C. (1998), p. 127-128.

[27] Carson, C. (1998), p. 136-137.

[28] Rabe , S. (2005), p. 175.

[29] Serge, V. (1979).

[30] Agee , P. (1975).

 

Sandew Hira: My upcoming trip to South Africa and Zambia

From May 1 till May 26, I will be visiting South Africa and Zambia. I will present my book Decolonizing The Mind – A guide to decolonial theory and practice and I will build relationships with institutions, individuals, and organizations. I am excited about this trip. It seems that Africa is moving more and more towards a leading role in the global decolonial movement. I hope to learn about this process in the coming period.

I will begin on May 2 in Cape Town with a lecture on How mathematics and the hard sciences were colonized and how to decolonize them. My dear friend mathematician Dr. Tiri Chinyoka will give a first response after which there is room for Q&A. I thank Frank Kronenberg for connecting me with Tiri.

On May 4 I will give a talk at the University of the Western Cape. It is organized by Bassey Antia, a linguist with whom I am going to work in the future on language and decolonizing the mind. Bassey has been very gracious in setting this up.

On May 8 I will do a book presentation at the University of Pretoria. This is made possible by Adekeye Adebayo and Kirsty Nepomuceno. I am so grateful for their hands-on energy and support.

On May 9 I will speak at the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Johannesburg. Professor Grace Khunou and her team has been so kind to host me at UNISA. Nokuthula Hlabangane has been instrumental in linking me to Grace. She will be my discussant at the talk.

On May 10 I will fly to Zambia where I will stay till May 15. For many months Yvonne Kabombwe and Ferdinand Chipindi have been preparing the ground for a Memorandum of Understanding between DIN and the University of Zambia in Lusaka. The MOU entails the establishment of a center for decolonizing knowledge production. I will be signing the MOU.

On May 11 I will give a public lecture at the University of Zambia in Lusaka. I will spend time to build relations with the University of Zambia and the Education Research Association of Zambia.

On May 12 I will give a public lecture at the Kwame Nkrumah University in Kabwe, 168 km from Lusaka. Jive Lubbungu also has been preparing the ground for a cooperation between DIN and the Kwame Nkrumah university. I will also hold discussions with university officials to develop relations with DIN.

On May 15 I will return to South Africa.

On May 16 Vimolan Mudaly of the University of Kwazulu-Natal will be my host where I will speak about decolonizing mathematics and the hard sciences.

On May 21 we will fly to Bloemfontein, where I look forward to meeting my brother Munyaradzi Mushonga, global academic director of DIN and Programme Director for Africa Studies in the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies (CGAS) at the University of the Free State (UFS).

On May 22 at UFS Munya has organised the presentation of my book at UFS. Two days later I will attend the Africa Day Memorial Lecture by Prof. M. Thabane. Africa Day is a huge event at UFS. I look forward to learning from Prof. Thabane.

On May 25 Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein is organizing a lecture on decolonizing mathematics and the hard sciences, thanks to the efforts of Munya to get them interesting in my lecture on this topic.

On May 26 I will participate as a speaker in the 2023 UFS Africa Month Dialogue. Munyaradzi Mushonga will be the host and MC. The theme of the Dialogue is Promoting and appreciating knowledge in and from Africa. I will speak on the topic “The importance of being creators and co-creators of knowledge (in and from Africa”). Prof. Francis Peterson, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of UFS, will also participate in the Dialogue.

That will conclude my visit to Africa in 2023. I hope that this will be the beginning of a long process of involvement in the African movement for decolonizing the world.

All events will be announced at https://www.sandewhira.com/index.php/catego

Decolonial Europe Day: bringing decolonising initiatives together on 9 May, ‘Europe Day’

The Decolonial Europe Day is a new initiative that uses the occasion of ‘Europe Day’ (9 May every year) to bring together existing decolonising initiatives, civil society organisations and other actors around the common project of decolonising Europe, understood as an ongoing process.

Our intention is to create a space for exchange on how to decolonise Europe, to amplify decolonial voices and praxis in and on Europe, to support the creation of synergies and to make this type of conversation more mainstream in Europe. Ultimately, the purpose is the dismantling of colonial power structures. The first edition of the Decolonial Europe Day will take place in online format on 9 May 2023 (9:30-18:00 South/Central African & Central European Summer Time).

The online event on 9 May will include nine sessions on the topics of decolonisation, anti-racism, justice, reparations, identity and much more, offered by our partner organisations, as well as plenary sessions with moderator Samie Blasingame and professor Gurminder K Bhambra. As a starting point for conversations during the event, we will publish a booklet with contributions by partner organisations addressing the question “what does it mean to decolonise Europe?” Stay tuned for this booklet to come out around 3 May.

Want to check the full programme and find out more about this new initiative? Check our website www.decolonial.eu and do not hesitate to share your feedback and ideas by writing to hello[at]decolonial.eu. We hope many of you will join us for the online event: you can register through this link.

Maarten de Groot
Decolonial Europe Day

Note Sandew Hira

The DIN Foundation fully supports this initiative.

Paris April 15: Decolonizing The Mind and ecology.

On April 15 DIN, Verdragon, Maison de l’Ecologie Populaire and L’Observatoire Terre-Monde (OTM) are organizing an event around the theme of Decolonizing The Mind and ecology. Speakers are Sandew Hira, Malcom Ferdinand of OTM and Fatimah Ouassak of Verdragon.

Sandew Hira recently published his book Decolonizing The Mind – A Guide to Decolonial Theory and Practice. Malcom Ferdinand is the author of the book Decolonial Ecology – Thinking from the Caribbean World. Angela Davis wrote a preface in the book. Fatima Ouassak is a well known activist and writer in France.

The event is held in Paris in Verdragon.

Decolonial International Network