Radical spaces can become oppressive, says Pan-Africanist scholar

“Africa does not appear as a place of knowledge; it does not appear as a place of importance.” These are the words of activist scholar Baba Buntu, who presented a lecture regarding the role of students in Pan-Africanism on Wednesday.

Before commencing with the lecture, a minute of silence was requested in observance of the fifth anniversary of the Marikana killings and remembrance of the victims of the massacre.

Baba Buntu (middle) with some of the audience members from his Nonsense Must Fall: The Role of Students in Practical Pan-Africanism Photos courtesy of eBukhosini Solutions

 

Buntu, whose ancestral home is Anguilla- which he describes as a “modern-day colony”- kicked off the lecture by asking the audience to imagine what a liberated Africa looks like.

“I just see black women laughing and being free. I see queer bodies fitting into a space which they did not have to create for themselves,” said LLB student Yamkelani Mabandla (22) in response to Buntu’s question.

The self-professed Pan-Africanist and Executive Director of Ebukhosini Solutions- a community based company specialising in African-centred education- stated that Pan-Africanism had not been made appealing enough to African people.

Buntu stated that instead of making the Pan-Africanist movement attainable, spaces of “revolutionary bullying” had been created which led to many people having no interest.

“Sometimes the places which seem to be the most radical can be the most conservative. We leave places which we mark as oppressive and we create other oppressive spaces,” he said.

Buntu explained that in spaces which are meant to be radical, certain questions and opinions were not allowed to be expressed, which often made people feel inferior. “I do not see how that is going to liberate us from what we are attempting to get away from,” stated Buntu.

During a discussion with Buntu, SRC Vice-Chairperson Maxwell Mlangeni echoed Buntu’s statements about African-centred educating, stating that it is necessary for African people to continue writing their stories so that they can be passed down to coming generations.

“If we want to change who we are as Africans, we need to start with the books we read,” said Mlangeni.

Mabandla commented on the irony of the lecture being presented in the Ou Hoofgebou. “Apartheid laws were created in this building,” said the student.

The Nonsense Must Fall: The Role of Students in Pan-Africanism lecture is part of Baba Buntu’s tour which aims to engage with students and community members on the practicality of Pan-Africanism and decolonisation. – Nyakallo Moleko

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