CAPE TOWN — At UCT, it seems, the sins of the colonial masters are being revisited on them by the Fallists and it’s been an eye for an eye leading to eventual complete academic blindness. That’s if the appeasement and direction taken by former Vice Chancellor Max Price continues apace, according to this acerbic analysis by long time lecturer and defender of all that is still good in the traditional academic realm, Professor Tim Crowe. Satirically using the language of his adversaries to make his points, Crowe quotes Fallist-supporting fellow academic and ‘decolonist’ – political scientist Lwazi Lushaba as promising that ‘we (blacks) will run UCT on our own and give them (whites) a new value system.’ If correct, that’s about as fascist and patronising a comment as any in the ongoing exclusionary rhetoric of the historically anarchic Fallists. Crowe robustly engages in the debate on how knowledge is disseminated while expressing fresh hope that the new Vice Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, will find enough dedicated academics on campus to help her wrest back control and properly transform UCT into a competitive African alternative to the best universities in the world. – Chris Bateman
By Tim Crowe*
It appears that controversial Founder Fallist Chumani Maxwele (see here and here) has left (been excluded from?) UCT, joining his bête noire, social engineer VC Max Price, and Fallist-maligned-Fallist Xolela Mangcu. Being less encumbered by matters academic and administrative, perhaps they can collectively write, a scholarly and practical work on how UCT might continue ‘decolonizing’ or, at least, help the remaining Fallists and their supporters to facilitate anti-institutional racist processes initiated by Price, supported by the Black Academic Caucus (BAC) and its academic ‘wing’ the Curriculum Change Working Group (CCWG). Alternatively, they might volunteer to co-supervise the research of soon-to-be post-graduate student, ‘Bullet Man’ Masixole Mlandu and other progressive Fallist researchers. Decolonist political scientist Lwazi Lushaba could continue to act as Mlandu’s in-house academic supervisor. Then, according to Lushaba, armed with a newly crafted Fallist revolutionary decolonisation paradigm and educational and research praxis, “we [blacks] will run UCT on our own and give them [whites] a new value system” and through an ideological struggle install a new hegemony catering for the needs of subaltern classes in civil society.
If Mlandu, Maxwele, Price, Mangcu, Lushaba, the BAC, CCWGers et al. are unwilling or unable to deliver a meaningful recipe for UCT’s decolonisation, let me attempt to ‘distil’ a Fallist research programme that might. A resulting summary document could be entitled:
Decolonizing the Euro-caucasio-hetero-centric patriarchal, elitist, commodified and sexist University of Cape Town and transforming her into the Afro-centric, classless, gender-sensitive, collectivist, contextual Pluriversity of Azania
In doing this, I rely heavily on NRF A-rated, decolonist philosopher Achille Mbembe’s unreferenced Decolonizing Knowledge and several other classic decolonist and philosophical pieces by the likes of Gramsci, Foucault, Fanon and Maldonaldo-Torres to outline possible chapter titles/headings/ topics/strategies.
Eliminate the long-standing, fragmented, silo-like, faculty/departmental structure, “with certified and required programs of study, grading systems, methods for the legitimate accumulation of credits and acceptable and non-acceptable standards of achievement and formal examinations of curriculum-related academic performance” that produces “marketable products” [knowledge and graduates] required by society.
Implement a new, horizontal, epistemically permeable, credits-flexible structure that transcends disciplinary divisions without a “mania for assessment” that “deters students and teachers from a free pursuit of knowledge”. Enforce academic ‘inclusivity’ – producing ‘blended disciplines’ that pursue contextual, ‘plural truths’ that are not required to compete epistemologically with “repressive” universal paradigms or law-like theories.
Chapter 2: Abandon the “anachronistic” academic “current cul-de-sac” based on “business principles and statistical accountancy”.
Stop seeing students and their families as “customers” and requiring “periodic and quantitative assessment of every facet of university functioning”.
Replace the current structure with a higher education system that “redistributes the capacity to make disciplined inquiries into those things we need to know, but do not know yet” and creates “the capacity to make systematic forays beyond our current knowledge horizons”.
Chapter 3: Reshape the Pluriversity’s lecture-theatre architecture to produce “classrooms without walls” and language-specific, “safe spaces” for those self-identified as marginalised and alienated.
Chapter 4: Replace the current educational philosophy and research approach dependent on academic freedom sensu TB Davie and evidence-based consilience and empirical falsification with one founded on Foucaultian Discourse, Critical Realism, neo-Heideggerian-‘Being’ and, ideally, Critical Race Theory.
Chapter 5: Replace highly rated, innovative PhD-educated scholars, educators and researchers who publish in peer-reviewed, highly ranked journals with organic intellectuals, “social agents” and “co-learners” attuned to the needs of “subaltern groups” who communicate their research via the unfettered social media.
Chapter 6: Modify the current senior-academic-monitored, criterion- and merit-based selection process for academic staff and their career development to allow a much stronger contribution by current students and workers sensu lato using an approach founded on UCT’s unexplicated “open processes”.
Chapter 7: Expose and, if necessary, exclude ‘othering’ staff and students who perpetuate the use “invisible”, “nuanced”, “recurring”, “cumulative”, “epistemic”, “psychological”, “exclusionary”, “marginalising” “cultural violence and racism” that “triggered” the restoratively justified, overtly violent and destructive student “protest” that “led to criminal charges”.
Chapter 8: Following the vision of Lis Lange (DVC for Teaching and Learning), create a ‘black-sourced’ “pedagogy of presence” effected through replacement of “obsolete forms of knowledge and obsolete pedagogies” with “different kinds of knowledges” and “changes in the relationship between educators and students”.
Chapter 9: Regain “innate rights and capabilities” stolen by the ‘others’, “by force if necessary”, “replacing a certain ‘species’ of men by another ‘species’ of men” “whose essence coincides with their image”, thereby eliminating the “gap between image and essence”.
Chapter 10: Demythologise ‘whiteness’ via a “disarticulation” of its “repressive hegemony”, replacing it with a “re-articulated hegemony” that expresses a new “collective will”, “starting a new history of Man”.
Chapter 11: Rethink “race [since it] has once again re-entered the domain of biological truth, viewed now through a molecular gaze. A new molecular deployment of race has emerged out of genomic thinking.” “Worlwide (sic), we witness a renewed interest in terms of the identification of biological differences.”
Chapter 12: Vilify and, if necessary, ostracise counter-revolutionaries who cooperate and, especially, collude with the ‘others’, by “assimilating colonialist thought in its most corrupt form”.
I invite Maxwele, Price, Mangcu, Mlandu, Lushaba, Lange, Mbembe, VC Phakeng, members of the BAC, CCWG et al. to enter into conversations on (better still vigorously debate) the above outline to clarify decolonist views on UCT’s disputed past (see here and here), toxic recent history and uncertain future. In the meantime, I offer my own thoughts.
UCT is not dead. It is still the pre-eminent university, locally and within Africa, highly competitive internationally and populated by brilliant, creative and innovative academics of all persuasion, young and old. During the ‘Good Old Days’ (VC Ramphele’s administration), its faculty and departmental structures were profoundly ‘inclusive’ and ‘Afro-centrified’ (certainly within the Faculties of Science and Engineering) to great effect, promoting trans-disciplinary collaboration. Ramphele was also highly successful in recruiting young ‘black’ academics, especially women. Sadly, during the same period, the centralised administration grew dramatically in size and cost, and academic power, but not accountability, became concentrated ‘down-the-hill’ in the hands of highly paid deputy vice-chancellors, corporate executive directors and a host of bureaucrats and academic social engineers. Responsibility for academic support for first-year students educationally increasingly ‘disabled’ by a collapsing Basic Education System continued to be shifted from Core faculties and departments and devolved to the centrally-controlled Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED), an effectively independent highly costly, add-on, faculty-like structure tasked with helping these students to “bridge the gap” between secondary and tertiary education. It has failed to do so from day one and, furthermore, created a sense of marginalisation and alienation in these students who fell under its care and, perhaps even more harmful, socio-educational engineering. This situation was exacerbated by massively increasing the numbers of CHED-students during the Ndebele and Price Eras, without concomitant increases in Core academics and bureaucrats sympathetic to their plight. During the Price Era, the situation deteriorated further when financial, rather than innovative academic, solutions took priority. This generated anxiety that morphed into the alienation of some CHED-students that pre-adapted them to become Fallists. The vast majority of intimidated students were subjected to “blended learning” (academic load-shedding?) and were, ultimately, required to write examinations in concentration-camp-like tents.
We now have a VC superbly equipped as an educator, researcher and administrator, who sees students and academics committed to excellence as her chief ‘customers’ and has declared her determination to resuscitate debate to make decolonisation a constructive process. Before Fallists are allowed to implement their radical, poorly articulated, untested and potentially destructive ‘solutions’ incoherently articulated in the broadly discredited CCWG Framework Document, let’s give Prof. Phakeng, dedicated academics and students (present and past) a chance to take back control of the Academy and transform UCT into a competitive African alternative to the best universities outside of the continent. Also, by the way, no amount of “genomic thinking” can be employed to allow human races to re-enter the “domain of biological truth”. Robert Sobukwe got it right, there is only one human race. Those who doubt me see here and here.
In the meantime, while the social engineers have “conversations” and law-breaking Fallists burn artwork, motor vehicles and offices, subsidy-earning CHED-kids fail to obtain a degree certificate or take six years to get a third-class piece of paper.