The Cognitive Empire in Africa: Knowledge, Consciousness, and Epistemic Freedom

Keynote Address: Africa Knows! Conference, The Hague,
The Netherlands, 2-3 December 2020.

Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni
Professor/Chair of Epistemologies of the Global South University of Bayreuth, Germany

Had it not been for the consequences of the cognitive empire, we would not be talking about the colonization and decolonization of African minds today. The cognitive empire operates through technologies that invade the mental universe of its victims, in the process attacking and removing an endogenous hard disk of African knowledge and memory and downloading into the minds of victims the software of foreign knowledge, memory, and language. Thus, the cognitive empire intervenes at the very centre of African consciousness causing cognitive instabilities with far reaching consequences.

This keynote address performs three key tasks: firstly, it will define the cognitive empire and articulate its operative logics. Secondly, it will explain how the cognitive empire impacted on the very formation and consciousness of African intellectuals. Thirdly, it will articulate African struggles for epistemic freedom and the challenges confronted while underscoring the fact that, in spite of the consequences of the cognitive empire, Africa has continued to resist and to vehemently declare that Africa knows!