Hiwar speakers call for Africa-centric approach in academia

April 25, 2021
As legacy colonial forces continue to shape academic curricula in postcolonial Africa, an Africa-centric scholarly approach is needed to reclaim the continent's indigenous voices in academia, according to speakers at a Northwestern Qatar webinar.
Winston Mano and viola c. milton, editors of the Routledge Handbook of African Media and Communication Studies, said that scholarship from the Global North remains the default perspective for theorization and empirical research in African media and communication studies.
Mano and Milton spoke as part of the school’s Hiwar Speaker series at a session on Afrokology and Media Studies: Theorising from the Global South.
According to milton, the lack of conviviality in theory development and data collection in African studies is a result of the structural violence imposed by asymmetrical power relations in the discipline of media and communication, stressing that “the study of Africa without Africa has become a dangerous pattern, not only in Western universities but within Africa itself.”
Mano added that the issue of the current Western-centric scholarly approach is its positioning of African approaches as appendages. “What is needed instead,” he said, “is for Africa-centric [scholarly] approaches to be considered as independent and meaningful categories, on their own terms, that produce an epistemic shift based on lived experiences and vantage points.”
In order to undo the misrepresentation and historical marginalization of African worldviews and knowledge, he argued for universities in Africa to promote African self-understanding through the accumulation of Afro-inspired scientific knowledge as a necessary corrective that has the potential to transform and improve the lives of marginalized people.
By disrupting the remanence of coloniality and promoting emancipation and enlightenment, milton noted that Afrokology, a scholarly approach that calls for revised curricula and promotes Africa-centric knowledge and studies as part of the mainstream, serves as a call to embrace the pluriverse of knowledge and enlightenment and an organizing principle to think about media and communication studies from the decolonizing context of postcolonial Africa.
Afrokology’s insistence on relevance, voice, and empowerment will help to center African epistemes as part of the mainstream and bring together the lived experiences and knowledge of African communities that have suffered from colonialism, postcolonialism, and neoliberalism,” she said
Mano and milton are experts in African media, communication, cultural studies, and journalism. Mano joined the University of Westminster's Communication and Media Research Institute from the University of Zimbabwe in 2000. milton is a professor in media studies in the Department of Communication Science at the University of South Africa.