UP hosts public lecture to honour work of African studies scholar Prof Toyin Falola

Posted on May 28, 2024

The Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria (UP) recently hosted a public lecture in honour of Professor Toyin Falola to pay homage to the impact of his work in African studies. Prof Sandra Africa, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, welcomed the audience to the lecture – titled ‘Reimagining knowledge for Africa’s development: Some thoughts from Toyin Falola’s work’ – which was held on the eve of Prof Falola receiving an honorary doctorate from UP

The keynote speaker was Prof Serges Djoyou Kamga, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State, and the discussant was Prof Abiodun Salawu of North-West University. Prof Kamga praised Prof Falola as a scholar of note who not only teaches humanities but also epitomises humanness. 

“On a personal level, Prof Falola is a man who treats everyone he meets with the same level of respect,” Prof Kamga said. “His contributions on a professional level make him a significant figure in the discipline of African studies, as his work challenges mainstream narratives that devalue the agency and viewpoints of African people.”

With Eurocentric perspectives generally dominating the study of Africa, Prof Falola’s work has been instrumental in providing a more nuanced and insightful understanding of African history, culture and politics. His work supports his key argument that Africans must redefine modernity to represent their unique experiences and worldviews.

In discussing Prof Kamga’s lecture, Prof Salawu said the lecture “underscored the importance of letting communities become part of the process of creating knowledge. It is also important to note that language is an enabler to accessing and creating knowledge”.

Prof Falola expressed his gratitude for receiving the honorary doctorate and shared that he relies on what he calls non-colonial archives to learn more about African studies.

“We need to understand and accept that Africa has a social history of existence that dates to more than 2000 years before colonialism; this indicates that Africans had their own worldviews, knowledge systems and epistemologies,” said Prof Christopher Isike, Head of the Political Sciences Department, in his closing remarks. “Africans also need to acknowledge that we had our own political and economic systems that worked before colonialism. Prof Falola’s work sheds light on the insights we can learn from these precolonial African realities, which will help the continent to progress.”

- Author Noluthando Buthelezi

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