The colloquium Centring Africa in Health and Social Sciences Research and Teaching is on tomorrow at the South African Medical Research Council. Here is the final Programme (Centring Africa in Health and Social Sciences Research and Teaching Colloquium – Programme).
I should let you know that am experiencing some anxiety. One usually has some anxiety as a host because you have to hold the space and see that things proceed without too many bumps. But this is different. We started with a plan to have no more than fifty people. Ninety-eight have confirmed. This is a small conference! It’s clearly a sign that people would like to have dialogues on this topic, but far more people than I would’ve liked when we began considering creating a space for series of colloquia. We are still getting threats, or perhaps assertive indications of attendance is better, from people who say they understand that there is no more space, and that they will ignore the samoosas and rotis, but they are coming. Ok, how do I say this: this is not free concert in the park, dear people, it’s an academic event. I beg you, please stay away.
Seriously, I am looking forward to tomorrow. I am even more sure that there is a huge need to have dialogue on centring Africa in being and knowledge. I am even more convinced of the imperative to keep working at different layers of epistemological and ontological dealienation and decolonisation after I saw an interview on Saturday on a local news channel with the amazing Obenewa Amponsah. She used to be with the Steve Biko Foundation. She is now the executive director of the Africa Office of the Harvard University Center for African Studies. Amazing though she is, I was left wondering: how does one make sense of the fact that Harvard has an Office in Johannesburg of its Center for African Studies? Is this something to be celebrated, or is a newer, maybe subtler, form of recentring the global powers in Africa?