We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

PEDRO MZILENI | Global moves to erase black history must be opposed

The West is attempting to divest itself of responsibility for slavery, oppression of blacks

The history of the Great Zimbabwe ruins and other historical landmarks will disappear from the face of the earth if racist whites indeed cancel the African history course in the curriculum.
The history of the Great Zimbabwe ruins and other historical landmarks will disappear from the face of the earth if racist whites indeed cancel the African history course in the curriculum.
Image: Roland Brack

The University of Chichester in the UK is planning to shut down a Master’s research course about the history of Africa and the African Diaspora. In the process, they also want to terminate the employment of the scholar who developed, teaches and supervises the course, Prof Hakim Adi.

The university claims this course has a low student enrollment and does not collect enough revenue in student fees. These claims have been refuted by Adi with credible facts, and he has tabled valuable reasons why humanity should promote courses that unearth the histories and displaced knowledges of the dehumanised and colonised parts of the world.

Adi is a seasoned international historian of African heritage who has supervised many Master's and PhD students from around the world in African history. He has years of teaching, course development, published writings and public engagements that have provided cutting-edge contributions to our understanding of the intellectual histories of the African-Caribbean experience over many centuries, including its tragic relationship with Empire.

Adi is a great human being who treats his students, colleagues and activists with kindness, compassion, and respect. His scholarship equips students in Africa with tools to know more about the world and what informs its current trajectory. His works also help us to know more about ourselves and understand the duty we still have, which is to continue the struggle to end the ongoing violence of neocolonialism and imperialism in our times.

It is against this background that scholars of African history such as Adi are under attack in Britain and across the world today. Imperialist racist nations are on an aggressive mission to silence anyone who speaks the truth about the gruesome atrocities committed by white people on innocent black people.

The process of colonisation invented by the British Empire, among other European nations, entailed systematic land invasions and land dispossession in Africa, including slavery, apartheid, genocides, massacres, forced labour and, today, the execution of a brutal system of racial capitalism which keeps white people as the dominant racial group that continues to oppress, exploit and discriminate against black people.

This racist structure of the world is not only a reality of the past but continues today, and it is being preserved into the future.

Therefore, white people are trying their best to erase this reality in the minds, hearts and memory of black people – in order to birth an ignorant society that does not see their privileges as proceeds of systematic theft in Africa, and exploitation of black cheap labour under racial capitalism.

The erasing mission is being undertaken as an attempt to polish the history of white people so that they can be seen today as an innocent race not guilty of crimes against black people.

To achieve this erasure, white people target education institutions and the media to infiltrate and control, in order to rearrange the memories, perspectives and mindsets of black people. It is therefore not an accident that the state of Florida in the US is also banning the teaching of black history and critical race theory in order to achieve this erasure.

In SA, the racist DA and AfriForum, a white Afrikaner cultural group, are also seeking to silence the singing of Struggle songs at public gatherings.

The move by the University of Chichester is therefore an expression of a symbiotic relationship between neoliberalism and white racism. The commercialisation of higher education has resulted in the cancellation of social science courses that teach about Africa and black people.

Similarly, the marketisation of governments across the world has resulted in the defunding of social welfare programmes earmarked for poor black people, women’s health and refugees. It is therefore unsurprising that the political landscape of our neoliberal times has birthed right-wing leaders who endorse anti-black racism, Islamophobia, wars and xenophobia.

As a South African black scholar, I stand in solidarity with Prof Hakim Adi and I demand that the racist decision to cancel the African History course and the plan to sack him be reversed and condemned.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.