Decolonizing Science in Rainbow Land

2016-11-04 11:56

LWAZI:

(On campus, wearing his Italian designer sunglasses, Nike sneakers, Manchester United Rooney football shirt, Guess jeans, platinum hip-hop chain with a massive cross pendant.....)

Hey Socrates! What are you doing here, man? Voetsek wena!

SOCRATES:

Forgive my intrusion; I have come only to learn from you, Lwazi. Please tell me, what does it mean to ‘decolonize science’? I have asked this question to many scholars. Perhaps they did not want to sound dogmatic. But these so-called experts do not seem to have a clear or consistent understanding what the term ‘decolonize’ means.

All this puzzles me. Surely you must have clear knowledge of what the term ‘decolonize science’ means... since you are willing to resort to violence and destruction of property and fight the good fight for its materialization. Surely, your knowledge must be absolute on these matters if you are willing to burn down the University libraries. So tell me, my dear teacher: Why the conflict with science? What does it mean to ‘decolonize science’? Reveal the truth to me. To my feeble mind, it appears that one group believes they were and are still being colonized through the use of science by another group and this science-colonizing-business has been wholly bad for the colonized group. I think ‘De’ means to ‘remove’ all the colonization. I am not sure. And what exactly does it mean to colonize? Also, how did science colonize? Whom did it colonize? Did it colonize all of us? Did it colonize the colonizer? How do we ‘remove’ the colonization? Assuming we could, what would be left after we ‘remove’ the colonization?

These are complex issues for me, so please instruct me.

LWAZI:

(Looking briefly at his Samsung galaxy smart phone, he does not want to miss the stone throwing scheduled for 9h00.)

Yes Socrates, I have the knowledge you seek. But it will take me some time to explain. Let me give you the tweet version. You see these White people have used their imperialistic agenda to exploit us Black people for many centuries. They come here with their hegemonic science to exploit us of our wealth. They do not respect our traditional knowledge. They want us to worship Newton and Einstein. They never talk about King Tshaka or Timbuktu. They disrespect our great heroes and achievements.

[Aside: Meanwhile in Rainbow Land, the reality is that the majority of all races still attend ‘state missionary’ schools and know very little about the great scientists.]

SOCRATES:

Forgive me if I separate the social and moral issues from the technical or more practical issues of survival and lifestyle for a moment. You know the application of scientific knowledge we call technology, such as growing food, electric energy, curing diseases, birth control, building dams, sewers, drains, flying planes, driving motor cars, managing our institutions, the assembly line, all kinds of automations, keeping social media working... Pray tell me if we replace science with decolonized science, how will these technologies work? Who will maintain and improve them? Should we also move to decolonized sports, music, fashion, art, and so on? Should we get rid of soccer but keep the vuvuzela? This is all so confusing but student leaders like you have all the answers.

LWAZI:

Let me make it easy for you old man, decolonized science is the knowledge of our indigenous people.

SOCRATES:

Excellent, Lwazi. I like your concise answer. This is the kind of answer I can work with. Let us examine your answer carefully. Decolonized science is the knowledge that was discovered by the people of South Africa. Does that summarize what you have stated?

LWAZI:

Yes, it does. In fact, let me add, all African knowledge.

SOCRATES:

What about knowledge that Africans have developed over the years by mixing with knowledge from Asia, America, and Europe?

LWAZI:

We should abandon those. Those were discovered by these White people. They are not Africans. They are just visitors. They must go back where they came from.

SOCRATES:

The latest science teaches us that all people of the world in all likelihood originated from Africa. We are all close relatives. You could even say we are all family.

LWAZI:

Ja, that is just a myth created by the White man. You see, you are stupid Socrates, to believe what the White scientists say. You know that stuff about Darwin, evolution and that we are all apes.

He he he, maybe you are an ape, Socrates.

(Silence)

SOCRATES:

My teacher, why does the best answer from such a sober mind leave me more confused and in this state of utter despair?

I always thought it would be more productive for the public and students to focus on the state, military and corporation’s monopoly over science and their abuse of its technology applications.

Science and power is implicated in ARVs, The Arms Deal, E-Tolls, Nuclear Energy, Climate Change...

(Lwazi’s restlessness is visibly intensifying)

How silly of me! Please forgive me. I am just a prisoner of my tradition. And here I was hoping you would be able to enlighten me, an ignorant old fool, what it means to decolonize science. I apologise for wasting your time. Farewell.

(Dialogue, debating, reasoning, and independent thinking... it seems these are all just Greek).

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