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  • The imperative of Utu / Ubuntu in Africana scholarship

     


    Written in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, this publication celebrates the birth of Black studies as a liberated academic zone. Professor  Mũgo reflects upon the significance of Africana studies, specifically within the context of America’s predominantly White universities, revisiting the hers/his/torical context that birthed Black studies as a field of knowledge. She reflects on the ownership of knowledge, its production, dissemination and custodianship while proposing utu/ubuntu as imperatives in defining transformative education. The hypothesis and heart of the argument is that knowledge and scholarship can either be colonizing, alienating and enslaving; or, alternatively, they can be conscientizing, humanizing and liberating, creating new human beings with the agency to transform life and the world, for the better. The latter constitutes what Professor Mũgo calls utu/ubuntu rooted-scholarship which, she argues, should define Africana studies, research and scholarship, all of which needs to have both a mind and heart. This should be the mission and vision that led to the birth of Black Studies as an academic. She dismisses the false myth of dominating, colonizing and imperialist cultures that claim to have a monopoly of knowledge and whose purpose is to justify the dehumanization of the conquered, the attempted erasure of their knowledges, heritages and ultimately, entire cultures.

    The essay urges us to reflect on a number of critical questions: What is the objective of Africana research and general search for knowledge? In whose service are teaching, research work and publications by Africana scholars? Do their conference papers bring any Africana knowledge systems to the round table of ideas? Is the knowledge they produce liberating and humanizing, or for the advancement of careerist ambitions? What does Black scholarship contribute towards what Paulo Freire called the ‘dialogical education for problem solving’?


    It is hard not to be effusive about the author of this pamphlet. Let’s just say it loud: Mῖcere Gῖthae Mũgo is a legend in her own time. And ours. Ours because, as she would say, paraphrasing universal African wisdom: without us, there is no her. From her native Kenya, a source to which she returns continually for yet more ancient wisdom; to Zimbabwe, where she once found refuge on being forced to flee her native land in the face of political persecution; to the United States of America, to which she eventually emigrated; and beyond, way beyond, Professor Comrade Sister Mugo has been a lodestar and wonder—in the academy and in the community, locally and globally. This pamphlet is a discursive offering to Africana studies, a notebook on a field of study born of struggle, student-led struggle. The organizing principle is Utu-Ubuntu, the universal African moral conception centered on the paramountcy of the soul over material accumulation. It is a stinging rebuke to capitalism, imperialism, racism, sexism, heterosexism and all the other antihuman isms, Utu-Ubuntu. Here, indeed, is an Africana studies manifesto, one that should be required reading for all students of the field, in and out of the academy. She never ceases to educate, to enlighten, to energize—this soul sister, this scion of Utu-Ubuntu, this magnificent struggler in the cause of African vindication and human liberation, Mῖcere Gῖthae Mũgo. — Michael O. West, Professor of African American Studies; History; African Studies, Penn State University

    An insightful essay that insists that Africana research and scholarship has “to have both mind and heart” to be truly emancipatory — for that is the essence of the meaning of Ubuntu and of Utu, the Swahili equivalent. That is the basis for challenging the dominant colonizing cultures that seek to dehumanize our people. The inimitable Micere Mugo forces us to think about the purpose of teaching and research: whose interests do they serve? — Dr. Willy Mutunga, Chief Justice & President of Supreme Court, Republic of Kenya, 2011-2016

    An excellent celebration of the contribution of Utu/Ubuntu – African Indigenous Knowledge – to Africana scholarship by Professor Micere Mugo, an icon of Africana Studies. This epistemological imperative for the creation of ‘liberated academic zones’ advances the post-modern and critical theory traditions, while firmly establishing Africa’s unique contributions, not only to Africana Scholarship, but also to the Global Academy and to humanity. — Filomina Chioma Steady, D.Phil. (Oxon.) Professor Emerita and Former Chair, Africana Studies, Wellesley College

  • Politics, Democratization and Academia in Uganda: The Case of Makerere University

     

    The value of this brilliant, thoroughly researched, and vigorously written book extends far beyond Makerere University and the case study of its academic union that is a central feature. The authors raise questions applicable to universities worldwide: the meaning of “democracy” for members of the academy, the relationship of the university to government, and the responsibility of academics and the media to the society that they ostensibly serve. Makerere’s failure to advance gender equity is the main focus of one chapter and a leitmotif in several others. A probing and sometimes personal analysis of the Law School, with which all the authors are associated, complements its contribution to the cause of democracy in Uganda. At once reflective and challenging, the authors invite further exploration by academics and policy-makers around the world.
    Carol Sicherman author of Becoming an African University: Makerere, 1922-2000 (2005), Professor Emerita, Lehman College, City University of New York

    Penned by brilliant legal academics, this anthology about that African academic giant—Makerere University—takes the reader on a fascinat- ing and engaging journey about the history of the organizational expression of African intellectuals and their links to the democratic struggles in Uganda. Arguably the best text on academia I have read in a long time, the book provides a deeply examined and superbly chronicled account of the manner in which Makerere University has been a thorn in the side of successive dictatorial governments, while also unpacking the warts that threaten to blight the academy; simply magnificent!
    Dr. Willy Mutunga, Chief Justice & President of Supreme Court, Republic of Kenya, 2011-2016

    This is a very valuable and a timely contribution to our understanding of sites of struggle in African countries. It focuses on Makerere University as a site of struggle for democratisation. The authors have done a marvellous job. If the sister universities of Dar es Salaam and Nairobi were to produce studies, we would have a veritable trilogy of struggles at our universities in East Africa.
    — Issa G Shivji, Professor Emeritus of Public Law & First Julius Nyerere Professor of Pan-African Studies, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    Alma mater to presidents, public intellectuals and pundits of all disciplines, Makerere University has attracted considerable scholarly and popular attention, both in respect of its prominence and achievements, as well as with regard to its failures and foibles.  As the oldest (and arguably best-known) university in Uganda and the wider eastern and central Africa region, Makerere looms large in the history of higher education on the continent.

    This book explores the relationship between a public university of unique historical importance and the contestations over democratization that have taken place both within campus and beyond.  It is pivoted around the late-20th century struggles by university staff and students for improved living conditions against the backdrop of the early programs of structural adjustment and economic reform pursued by the National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) government adopted soon after taking power in 1986.

    Although seemingly introverted in focus, in many respects these efforts represented the earliest forms of political resistance against a regime of governance that promised a great deal, but disappointingly delivered considerably less.  Collectively, the chapters demonstrate that there is neither a single narrative nor a textbook formula about the relationship between the academy and democratic struggles.  Instead of forcing an unsupported and false consensus on the definitive role of Academia in politics, the book seeks to stimulate a robust debate on the subject.

     


    CONTENTS

    Preface by Hon. Justice Solomy Balungi Bossa

    1. Introduction: The Academy and Political Struggle in Uganda J. Oloka-Onyango
    2. The Role of Academia in the Democratization Process Benson Tusasirwe
    3. For whom doth the Academic bell really toll? Unpacking the engagement of Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) in Uganda’s Democratization struggles Maria Nassali
    4. Intellectuals and the Fourth Estate: Analyzing the Coverage of Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) in the Ugandan Media (1989-2020) Ivan Okuda
    5. Between Activism and “Hooliganism”: Civic Engagement and Democratic Struggles in Makerere University Students Guild Dan Ngabirano
    6. Juggling the Personal and the Political: The Case of Female Academics at Makerere University Sylvia Tamale
    7. Contending with the past and building for the future? The Paradoxical contribution of Makerere University School of Law to dictatorship and democratization in Uganda Busingye Kabumba
    8. Conclusion: The Political Economy of University Education: Revisiting democratic alternatives for Makerere and Uganda Frederick W. Jjuuko

    Contributing Authors

  • Transforming ourselves, Transforming the World: An open conspiracy for social change – Second Edition

    You can watch / listen to a conversation between the author, Brian K Murphy, and David Austin here.

     


    This is a new edition of the book originally published by Zed Books in 1999. The book includes an Introduction written by David Austin and an Afterword from the author, Brian Murphy.


    This book is for all those – community workers, adult educators, social activists of every kind – who want to overcome pessimism and play a part in changing society in the direction of peace, justice and dignity for all human beings. As author Brian Murphy— the independent analyst, organizer, educator and writer, and former staff member of the social justice organization, Inter Pares—points out, many of us are pessimistic about our ability to change the world when confronted by destructive political and corporative forces and the destruction they wreak. Murphy reveals the social and personal dilemmas which hold people back from social engagement, and argues that the various constraints we face can be overcome.

    In this new edition, David Austin explains in his Introduction why this book, first published in 1999, is perhaps more relevant to our times than ever, offering insights from his own experiences of engaging critically with the book and with others. (David Austin is author of Dread Poetry and Freedom: Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Unfinished Revolution, Fear of a Black Nation: Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal and the editor of Moving Against the System, The 1968 Congress of Black Writers and the Making of Global Consciousness.)

    And in his new afterword, Brian Murphy reflects on the continued relevance of the original text, emphasizing how our humanity is being corroded and commodified. To reclaim our humanity, he argues, we must transform ourselves to transform the world.


    Brian Murphy’s immensely inspiring book,Transforming Ourselves, Transforming the World, deeply challenges us to think and rethink everything we knew and thought we knew.—Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation & Right Livelihood Award Laureate in 2010

    We need more conversations like the one in this book, which are rooted in hope while honestly working through a foundational way of seeing and understanding ourselves in the bigger picture.— Christina Warner, Co-Executive Director and Director of Campaigns and Organising, Council of Canadians.

    This is one of the coolest, enjoyable and important books I have read in recent years. Written from the heart as well as the head, it is a breathtakingly visionary, unique and insightful take on the life of the ultimate activist.—Hope Chigudu, Feminist activist

    The republication of Transforming Ourselves, Transforming the World is a gift for our troubled times. All of us who share the drive to change our society will find encouragement and nourishment. This book offers a break from an all-too-common type of “activism” that demands harmful suppression of our individual creativity, freedom and health. What we have here is a celebration — and an entirely convincing validation — of a way of changing the world that is always nurturing and open-ended; a process of possibility and becoming, as we build on humanness to realise greater humanness. As Murphy puts it: “‘I will act, because it is sane, and healthy, and human to do so. We will act together, because it is sane, and healthy, and human, and more effective to do so. … This is how we can begin to develop an open conspiracy’”. I’m energised to sign up to this “open conspiracy”, and I’m sure many more readers will be too. — Mark Butler, co-author with Church Land Programme (South Africa) of in, against, beyond, corona


    Table of Contents

    Introduction to Second Edition: David Austin

    Preface and Acknowledgements

    The Challenge
    1 The Courage to Be
    2 The Dilemma of Action and the Psychology of Inertia
    3  Confronting the Dilemmas: Beyond Inertia

    Possibilities in Process
    4 The Missing Link
    5 The Individual, the Visionary
    6 Challenging the Established Rationality
    7 Imperatives for Modern Education

    The Open Conspiracy
    8 The Open Conspiracy: Allies for Health and Action
    9 Theatres and Strategies: Embracing the Future
    10 Education and the Open Conspiracy

    Conclusion

    Eclectic Notes on Knowledge and Action

    Afterword
    Afterword to the Second Edition – Brian Murphy
    Related Reading
    Further reading

    Index

  • Rinky-Dink Revolution: Moving Beyond Capitalism by Withholding Consent, Creative Constructions, and Creative Destructions—English (Spanish and Korean editions also available)

    This pamphlet tackles the question: how do we get from A to B, capitalism to post-capitalism?

    It is critical reading to understand why:

    • Capitalist-oriented industrial agriculture and its destruction of habitat are the upstream causes that led to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other past and future pandemics of devastating, emerging viral pathogens. 
    • COVID-19 may trigger a collapse of the global capitalist system but it is not the cause.
    • Health-care and public-health systems organized around capitalist principles don’t do well in pandemics, compared to those not organized around capitalist principles. 
    • The current economic collapse, triggered by a pandemic, opens a door for revolutionary transformation.

    The pamphlet is available in Spanish and Korean.

    Rinky-dink Revolution involves actions and inactions that are easy, safe, mundane, unglamorous, and feasible within every person’s life.

    Howard Waitzkin’s Rinky-Dink Revolution … is small to be sure—light-weight, unimposing in appearance, and with an abbreviated wing-span of just 72 pages total, including 11 pages of fore-and-after-matter. A quick read. But rinky-dink? Quite the opposite. …

    Like the best revolutionaries in all times and places Howard Waitzkin is guided by a powerful sense of possibility as well as deep feelings of love. He’s pissed off to be sure, because he pays attention to the crimes of racial capitalism. But he also knows that “even anger at injustice makes the brow grow stern,” and that being pissed off will not take us where we need to go—only love and joy and generosity can do that. He illustrates over and over that the greatest weapon in the cause of liberation is our beating human hearts longing to be free.

    This book is bantam-weight, as I said—the perfect mini-manifesto to slip into your back pocket or your backpack, a worthy companion as we mount the next action or tend the community garden. — Bill Ayers.  Rinky-Dink billayers.org

    But what exactly does revolution look like? Is it putting on a beret, slinging an AK-47 over your shoulder, and trying for that far-away look in your eyes? Well, no, that’s called suicide by cop (and nobody is going to put your face on a T-shirt). In the short pamphlet/e-book/PDF/audiobook Rinky-Dink Revolution (available on a donation basis from Daraja Press and at Monthly Review), Waitzkin suggests instead that we engage in postcapitalist forms of social organization. He gives us examples such as the Zapatistas in Chiapas, the Rojava in northern Syria, Jackson, Mississippi, and Rustbelt collectives such as the Horizontal Stateline Autonomous Zone in Northern Illinois. … Waitzkin calls it a Rinky-Dink Revolution because it’s everyday stuff that you can do while you scour the thriftshops in search of that beret.— On Howard Waitzkin’s Rinky-Dink Revolution. Counterpunch.org

    Howard Waitzkin presents a clear, straightforward intervention for revolutionary change in the global capitalist economic system. He covers much ground, with sophistication, while keeping the argument grounded. His focus on ways to facilitate a challenge to capital and to build further revolutionary transformation is crucial at this historical juncture. The discussion of creative constructions and creative destructions is particularly useful. —Brett Clark, Professor of Sociology, University of Utah, and author of The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and the Ecological Rift

    The end of capitalism is possible. Waitzkin takes us a step further in the creative process for transformation. Through specific examples from organized groups within the United States and abroad, this work constitutes a practical guide for everyone. Waitzkin encourages our creativity for organized, safe acts and omissions to transcend capitalism. —Nylca J. Muñoz Sosa, lawyer, public health leader, and activist focusing on health justice and decolonization in Puerto Rico

    Waitzkin is among the expanding list of authors who openly reject the imperative of capitalism for infinite economic growth. He clearly understands that the world can provide better lives for all of humanity while reducing the total mass of capitalist production, which is overwhelmingly wasteful…. Rinky-Dink Revolution is a great contribution to probing how we can live our lives in ways that prepare us for the society we hope to bring into being. It is more than worth reading – it is something to think deeply about.

    Don Fitz. February 5, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal 

    Contents

    Moving beyond capitalism now 8

    Peculiar ways to struggle without confronting capitalism 12

    Rinky-dink revolution and revolutionaries 21

    Creative constructions 36

    Creative destructions 49

    The death of capitalism and the birth of something else 65

    About the author 68

    Acknowledgments 69

    Vision statement: Moving beyond capitalism—now! — Howard Waitzkin and Firoze Manji 70

    Audiobook

    You can listen to the audiobook here:

  • Under-Education in Africa: From Colonialism to Neoliberalism

    Under-Education in Africa: From Colonialism to Neoliberalism is a collection of essays on diverse aspects of educational systems that were written over a period of four and a half decades, written from the point of view of an activist educator.

    With the focus on Tanzania, they cover education in the German colonial era, the days of Ujamaa socialism and the present neo-liberal times. Themes include the social function of education, the impact of external dependency on education, practical versus academic education, democracy and violence in schools, the role of computers in education, the effect of privatization on higher education, misrepresentation of educational history, good and bad teaching styles, book reading, the teaching of statistics to doctors and student activism in education.

    Two essays provide a comparative view of the situation in Tanzania and the USA. Linking the state of the educational system with society as a whole, they explore the possibility of progressive transformation on both fronts. They are based on the author’s experience as a long-term educator, his original research, relevant books, newspaper reports and discussions with colleagues and students.

    The author is a retired professor of medical statistics who has taught at colleges and universities in Tanzania and at universities in the USA and Norway.

    Table of Contents:
    – Abbreviations
    – Preface
    – Introduction
    – Education and Colonialism
    – Education and Ujamaa
    – Education and Democracy
    – Education and Dependency
    – Education and Violence
    – Education and Privatization
    – Education and Computers
    – Education and America
    – Education and Debate
    – Education and History – I
    – Education and History – II
    – Education and Reading
    – Education and Educators
    – Education and Activism – I
    – Education and Activism – II
    – Education and Liberation
    – References
    – Author Profile

    A collection of essays from an educator-activist that takes us back to one of the richest periods of African intellectual debate about knowledge and colonization, the early 1970s at the University of Dar es Salaam, with valuable lessons for today.

    Budd L Hall, PhD, Professor Emeritus, UNESCO Co-chair in Community‑Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, University of Victoria, Canada

    This is a timely, broad ranging, provocative series of essays about under-education in Africa. The author’s lived experiences, particularly in Tanzania, form a rich base for much of the critical contextual analysis. New generations of scholar-activists in Africa and elsewhere are urged to learn from history, to debate, to question and strive, with passion and hope, to attain a just, more egalitarian world.

    Shirley Walters, Professor Emerita, University of Western Cape, South Africa

    An inspiring collection of vivid stories and profound critiques of education from a committed scholar-activist who draws upon a lifetime of engaged learning, teaching, research and debate. Revealing how under-education has been spawned by global capitalism, it also inspires hope and offers strategies for educational and social change in Africa and beyond.

    Pat Saul, UDSM graduate, teacher and community activist for social change, Toronto

    A dedicated and passionate educator and scholar activist, Karim Hirji explores the connection between education and a dependent economy, and the systematic de-education of the Tanzanian and African masses during the colonial and post-colonial periods up to the present day. Broad structural analysis of underlying factors such as social and economic injustice, political accountability and neoliberal policy is combined with concrete investigation of the challenges facing students and teachers at all levels of the education system and ends on a positive note, “dare to dream.”

    Marjorie Mbilinyi, Professor of Education, University of Dar es Salaam (1968-2003), independent researcher and writer

    Karim Hirji’s erudite yet accessible collection of essays is bound to become an essential companion and a classic for all concerned with the underdevelopment of Africa and its educational doppelganger, under-education. His dialectical, fine-grained and multi-scalar analysis of educational issues traverses the period of colonialism, the first flush of independence through neo-colonialism to present day capitalist neoliberalism. It is a milestone in connecting past and present struggles through the tools of political economy. While the essays focus on Tanzania, they have continental resonance and remain globally relevant.

    The essays draw inspiration and critical lessons from many countries. Hirji’s education commentary is grounded in a dedicated praxis of over forty years. The collection reflects this breadth of experience and the depth of multifaceted struggles. It embraces many pertinent issues valuable for contemporaneous endeavours against miseducation as these relate to democracy, dependency, violence in schools, the privatisation and corporatisation of education, the uses and abuses of technology, cultural imperialism, academic dissent, publishing, reading and the qualities of an effective teacher.

    Written in a register that exudes deep honesty, wisdom, self-critical reflection and borne out of collective struggle, the essays are indispensable to confront the current obfuscations, falsifications and the dominant right wing and indeed neo-fascist assaults on meaningful education and reason. The ideas and practices of Hirji and his fellow activist scholars such as Shivji, and the much missed AM Babu and Walter Rodney remain germane today and will leave a solid legacy for future generations to build on.

    Despite these bleak, dire and precarious times, this remarkable collection is an antidote to despair. Hirji’s injunction, not to lose hope is also a clarion call to action and a firm belief that, to quote Hirji, “…the struggle is a long term one; there are bound to be ups and downs. But ultimately, Africa and its people will triumph.”

    Salim Vally, Professor and Director, Centre for Education Rights and Transformation, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

    “This book will be of interest to readers in search of critical perspectives on education in Tanzania and Africa more widely. It invites the policymakers, teachers and students of today to erase their ‘ideological blinders’. For fellow citizens and observers of Tanzania, it elucidates the ideology of ‘education for self-reliance’ in practice. And, as an authoritative text on under-education, it makes an important contribution to the debates on transformative education and knowledge production in Africa as a whole.” Ahmad Kipacha Senior Lecturer in the School of Business Studies and Humanities at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Arusha.

    REVIEWS

  • The Travails of a Tanzanian Teacher

    The Travails of a Tanzanian Teacher is a riveting account of the bumpy first decade of the work life of Karim F Hirji, a retired Professor of Medical Statistics. Filled with a distinctive variety of eye-opening episodes, it covers lecturing at the University of Dar es Salaam, the life of a political exile in a remote rural area and the challenges of setting up from scratch a one-of-a-kind educational institute in Africa. With a style that seamlessly combines the personal with the general, Hirji provides an illuminating description of different aspects of the Tanzanian political, educational, economic and rural landscape during the 1970s. Starting with a commentary on teacher training, he concludes with a critical comparison of modern university education in the nation with that of the earlier era.

    You can read this book online for free.

    A clearly written, excellently illustrated, valuable and absorbing reflection upon a rich lifetime in teaching that deserves an international audience. Richard Pring, Emeritus Professor at the Department of Education, and Emeritus Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford.

    The remarkable life of a principled Tanzanian educator told with emotion and humor. Peter Lawrence, Professor Emeritus of Development Economics, Keele University UK and Lecturer in Economics, University of Dar es Salaam, 1970-72.

    Karim Hirji’s account of four decades of teaching in post-colonial Tanzania is a timely call on teachers to: “educate in ways that will promote equality and social justice”. Dr Anne Harley, Paulo Freire Project, Centre for Adult Education, University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

    Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o with Rosa Hirji, holding a copy of The Travails of a Tanzania Teacher i.