Africa Knows! It is time to decolonise minds

Theme: Decolonising minds

In recent years, Africa’s universities, research institutions and other knowledge agencies have undergone tremendous change. A growing demand for scientific forms of knowledge and for higher education has pushed many of them to expand rapidly and to engage in a combination of daring initiatives and institutional, scientific, and educational creativity. New knowledge organizations, for example, with ties to religious groups or the private sector, have also been established. ‘Decolonizing the academy’ has become a loud call within and beyond the continent. Eurocentrism is increasingly questioned, while calls to ‘look East’ and ‘look inside Africa’ are gaining momentum.

Contemporary African trends thus fundamentally challenge inherited ideas about a colonial-hierarchical relationship between European and African knowledge organizations. While most of Europe’s scientists continue to ignore Africa, European governments, bureaucrats, and funding organizations often remain wedded to a ‘capacity development’ approach. At the same time, a growing number of African scholars and Africa-based knowledge institutions vehemently object to Africa’s presumed dependence on foreign funding and ideas. Emphasizing their autonomy and ‘leapfrogging’ achievements, they increasingly reject offers of benign paternalism from European partners. Perhaps it is finally time for Europeans to decolonize their minds too!

Donation to Trees for all

We are in the midst of a climate crisis. In large part, this crisis is caused by the excessive emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases produced by human lifestyles that demand considerable consumption of energy, deriving from oil, natural gas, coal, as well as renewables or electricity (When 100% renewable energy doesn’t mean zero carbon, stanford.edu).  A range of human activities contribute to these excessive emissions, including digital activities sustained by the consumption of electricity. The year 2019 saw an all-time record in CO2 emissions of 33.1 Gt. (See IEA report), while in 2020, the Corona pandemic and associated measures reduced economic activities and mobility around the world, resulting in a 6% drop in global energy demand. While this also holds for electricity, it is a concern that in the later part of 2020 the demand for electricity rose again to levels even higher than in 2019.

Rising to the challenge of taking responsibility for our contributions to the climate crisis, the online Africa Knows! Conference budgeted for a compensation of CO2 emissions associated with the conference proceedings. The conference organisers donated an amount of €2000 to Trees for All, a Dutch NGO that seeks to compensate for CO2 emissions by planting trees in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the world.

Ingrid Samset and Harry Wels, Green Conference initiators