1st Edition

Decolonising African Higher Education Practitioner Perspectives from Across the Continent

Edited By Christopher B. Knaus, Takako Mino, Johannes Seroto Copyright 2022
    178 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    178 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Across the African continent, college student activists have long fought to decolonise African institutions. Reflecting ongoing Western colonisation, however, Indigenous African languages, thought, and structures remain excluded from African universities. Such universities remain steeped in Eurocentric modes of knowing, teaching, researching, and communicating. Students are rarely afforded the opportunity to learn about the wealth of knowledge and sustainable wisdom that was and is generated by their own home communities. Such localised Indigenous African perspectives are critical in a world committed to anti-Black racism, capitalist materialism, and global destruction.

    This book thus clarifies decolonial efforts to transform higher education from its anti-Black foundation, offering hope from universities across the continent. Writers are university administrators and faculty who directly challenge contemporary colonial education, exploring tangible ways to decolonise structures, curricula, pedagogy, research, and community relationships. Ultimately, this book moves beyond structural transformation to call for a global commitment to develop Indigenous African-led systems of higher education that foster multilingual communities, local knowledges, and localised approaches to global problems. In shifting from a Western-centric lens to multifaceted African-centrism, the authors reclaim decoloniality from co-optation, repositioning African intellectualism at the core of global higher education to sustain an Ubuntu-based humanity.

    List of Tables and Images


    Chapter One: Decolonising Higher Education: Definitions, Conceptualisations, Epistemologies (Christopher B. Knaus, Takako Mino, and Johannes Seroto)

    Chapter Two: Centring African Knowledges to Decolonise Higher Education (Mishack T. Gumbo, Velisiwe Gasa, and Christopher B. Knaus)

    Chapter Three: Curriculum Transformation to Decolonise African Higher Education (Ngepathimo Kadhila and John Nyambe)

    Chapter Four: Removing and Recentring: Student Activist Perceptions of Curricular Decolonisation (Khazamula J. Maluleka)

    Chapter Five: Localising Knowledge Systems (Ferdinand M. Chipindi, Ane Turner Johnson, and Marcellus Forh Mbah)

    Chapter Six: Reclaiming Indigenous Epistemes: Entenga Drums Revival at Kyambogo University (James Isabirye)

    Chapter Seven: On Language, Coloniality, and Resistance: A Conversation between Abdirachid Ismail and Christopher B. Knaus

    Chapter Eight: (De)Colonising Physical Education in Ghana (Bella Bello Bitugu and Austin Wontepaga Luguterah)

    Chapter Nine: The Re-assimilation of Indigeneity in Education: A Long-term Journey (Takako Mino and Elaine Alowo Matovu)

    About the Contributors




    Christopher B. Knaus is a global critical race practitioner focused on collaborative disruption of anti-Black education and the centring of Black and Indigenous affirming systems. Dr. Knaus serves as a Professor of Education at the University of Washington Tacoma and Professor Extraordinarius at the University of South Africa.

    Takako Mino is a scholar-practitioner, who studies and strives to actualise a humanising education. Dr. Mino serves as an adjunct lecturer at Ashesi University in Ghana and co-founder of upcoming Musizi University in Uganda.

    Johannes Seroto is a research practitioner in Indigenous knowledge systems, the history of South African education, and colonial, post-colonial, and decolonisation studies. Dr. Seroto serves as a Professor of the History of Education at the University of South Africa.

    This is a tasty collection of well researched and conceptualised chapters on the urgent matter of decolonising higher education in post-colonial Africa. The book contributes substantially to unravelling a prevailing conceptual paralysis on the subject of decolonising higher education and will be an excellent companion for researchers, students, policy makers and practitioners with a focus on disrupting the stranglehold of the western canon on Africa’s higher education.

    -Felix Maringe, Professor of Higher Education, University of the Witwatersrand


    A profoundly sterling scholarly discourse on decolonizing African higher education from its current colonial umbrage. Knaus, Mino, and Seroto have assembled a volume that highlights the need for higher education in Africa to be relevant to the African socio-cultural, political and economic contexts. Their collection should be of interest to educators, scholars, and policy makers on African education.

    -Edward Shizha, Professor of Youth & Children's Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University


    Decolonising African Higher Education vibrates with interruption, reclamation and repair. Across nine focused chapters, the authors wrestle with the legacies of epistemic, racial and material injustice and inequality that persist in the current geopolitical and geocultural conditions of higher education in their midst. With ethical wisdom born of resistance and desire, they share the ways in which their transformative imaginaries of Indigeneity will operate and flourish, discussing specific examples, cases and studies from across the complex ecology of knowledges and knowledge systems, curricula, academic citizenry and engagement of the African university.

    -Dr Dina Zoe Belluigi, School of Social Science, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast; and Chair of the Study of the Critical Studies of Higher Education Transformation, Nelson Mandela University


    The book "Decolonizing African Higher Education" covers diverse topics across the Higher Education curriculum, with contributions from academics across the African continent. Knaus, Mino, and Seroto emphasize Indigenization, contextualization, Africanisation and the use of African epistemologies as key aspects towards a transformative agenda for the decolonization of African Universities. I fully endorse this work.

    -Soul Shava, Ph.D., Professor, University of South Africa


    Most often, colonisation is seen in the context of physical colonisation of territory. However, physical colonisation went with, among others, the mission civilisatrice which sought to denigrate and decimate all indigenous knowledge and lifestyle, leading to the colonisation of the mind. This insidious element of colonialism extended to the highest echelons of formal education. Yet, the formal end of colonialism did not extend to decolonisation of the mind. Thus, the basis of higher education in Africa, as this book seeks to establish, remains colonised. The book, therefore, represents an important contribution to decolonising higher education in Africa to pave the way for the recognition and application of indigenous knowledge and indigenous means of knowledge production.

    -Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, Professor, University of Ghana Legon


    Knaus, Mino, and Seroto provide a roadmap for transcending the antiquated colonially imposed confines of Africa's formal education. Readers will be equipped to leverage on emerging opportunities offered by changing global dynamics - such as increased internet access and the effects of COVID-19 across Africa - to establish authenticity in education towards accelerated individual, community and societal advancement across the region.

    -Dr. Chika Ezeanya Esiobu, Visiting Lecturer, University of Rwanda College of Business and Economics and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Africana Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills


    Knaus, Mino, and Seroto offer more than an alternative perspective on how to re-imagine higher education. Readers are provided African-centered paradigmatic perspectives, research, and praxes that are entrenched in Indigenous wisdom, serving to decolonise African education as well as disrupt epistemic apartheid. If we are who we've been waiting for...then we are ready!

    -Dr. Venus E. Evans-Winters, research and policy scholar, clinician in private practice, and Former Professor of Education, Women & Gender Studies, and African American Studies.


    Thinkers from Africa, South America and Asia have undertaken for several decades a critical reflection on the issue of "coloniality", the mechanism through which the colonial legacy continues to shape our practices, worldviews and imaginaries. Such thinkers have called for a "decolonial turn" which necessitates the development of endogenous ways of thinking and apprehending knowledge and know-how. Higher education is the place where this paradigm shift must take place to transform not only curricula in universities but also the very systems of teaching and learning knowledge inherited from colonisation. This book is a significant undertaking which will greatly contribute to the global effort of decolonizing educational models. 

    -Ali Moussa Iye, researcher, writer, and founder of AFROSPECTIVES, a Global Africa Initiative.


    Educational systems and research in the Global South are still heavily dependent on those of their former colonising countries, which continue to belong to the Western military and financial geopolitical bloc. Decolonizing knowledge and higher education has become an important issue in Africa, but also in Asia, and Central and Southern America. Knaus, Mino, and Seroto, with nine African-centred approaches, provide an essential contribution to this lively debate.

    -Giorgio Banti, University of Naples L’Orientale, Italy