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385 CHAPTER 22 Decolonial Epistemic Perspective and Pan-African Unity in the 21st Century Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni INTRODUCTION The main challenge facing the ex-colonised peoples is how to transcend the abyssal line which divided human population into zones of beings and zones of non-beings.1 Race was used as a central organising principle in this bifurcation process. The Euro-American world became the zone of beings, whereas areas outside this zone became an abode of non-beings. Non-beings were excluded from protection of law and ethics. Non-beings were available for enslavement, colonisation, and other abuses. This is why African struggles must be understood as premised on how to transcend the zone of non-beings. This reality also explains why African people have been at cross roads since the time of colonial encounters in the 15th Century. Crossing the global imperial designs of domination, exploitation, and racism, has proven to be a lifetime struggle for Africans. The essence of the African struggles has been to forge new categories of thought, construction of new subjectivities and creation of new modes of being and becoming.2 Such a vast struggle cannot be fought in one site (political theatre only) but in various domains and realms simultaneously , simply because global imperial designs and colonial matrices of power have permeated and infiltrated every institution and every social, political, economic, spiritual, aesthetic, and cognitive arena of African life. At one major level, the African struggles involve challenging EuroAmerican epistemology which Frantz Fanon saw as involving leaving ‘this Europe where they are never done talking of Man, yet murder men everywhere they find them, at the corner of every one of their streets, in all the corners of the globe … So, my brothers, how is it that we do not understand that we have better things to do than to follow that same Europe? Come, then, comrades, the European game has finally ended; we must find something different.’3 386 CHAPTER 22 Conceptually and theoretically, this chapter is about epistemology as mode of knowing that liberates, and pan-Africanism as a discursive terrain of struggle for a new humanism. At the epistemological level, it focuses on understanding how Euro-American epistemology which inaugurated rationality , progress, development, freedom and equality in the Western world, unleashed imperial technologies of subjectivation and enabled mercantilism , slavery, imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, and apartheid on Africa as dark side of modernity.4 This reality has provoked the rise of the decolonial epistemic perspective as a counter-hegemonic intellectual thought questioning and challenging Euro-American epistemology’s pretentions and claims to be the only mode of knowing that is neutral, objective, disembodied, truthful and universal.5 Decolonial epistemic perspective not only reveals epistemicides committed by the darker and underside of Euro-American epistemology, but also operates as an indispensable liberatory epistemology. At the socio-political level, the chapter focuses on pan-Africanism as counter force to the hegemonic global imperial designs in place since conquest. As noted by Boaventura de Sousa Santos the global imperial designs in place since the 15th Century have ‘many facets and assumed many names: discoveries, colonialism, evangelisation, slavery, imperialism , development and underdevelopment, modernisation and finally, globalisation.’6 In concrete terms, this chapter examines three important issues that impinge on the pan-African agenda today. First is what is described as global imperial designs that unfolded in the 15th Century. The point of departure is that modernity defined as a process of submitting the entire world to the absolute control of Euro-American human reason, human knowledge, and human-made institutions assumed two contrasting trajectories as it expanded out of Europe into other parts of the world.7 One trajectory was positive and enabled Europe and America to develop very fast. The other became negative and impeded Africa’s development and unity. This description of modernity is amplified by Santiago Castro-Gomez: We can thus state that modernity is a project of governing the social world which emerged in the sixteenth century. Its constructions of power/knowledge are anchored in a double coloniality: one directed inward by European and American nation-states in their effort to establish homogenous identities through politics of subjectification, the other directed outward by the hegemonic powers of the modern/colonial world-system in their attempt to ensure the flow of primary materials from the periphery to the centre. Both processes are part of the same structural dynamic (emphasis in the original text).8 387 DECOLONIAL EPISTEMIC...


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