So, I spent most of the lockdown and post lockdown periods in a most “enjoyable” manner… writing a book! Looking back, I have no idea why I decided to write a book during a global plague. But I had started a lot of the research for it some years prior, so it seemed like a good idea for me to begin writing at that time. The book that came out of all this is titled, “Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge: Reflections on Power and Possibility.” It is now available for pre-order from Bristol University Press. The e-book is being released at the same time as the hardcover. The paperback will be released sometime later. I would really appreciate it if you could recommend the hardcover to your university or other libraries that you use, and also pre-order a soft copy for personal use.[See info on recommendation in image below].
This blog post is a reflection on both my personal academic journey, as well as a commentary on various strands of the state of the academic engagement with knowledge about Africa and of Africans. A number of years ago, I was at a crossroads in my career. As a school child, I had chosen to study law, despite at the time, the relative limited career paths it offered. Lawyer. Full stop. My aim was, and remains, to essentially do what I wanted with the discipline… among other things, engage in closer analysis of African pasts and presents, so as to consider what future paths we can take. However, in due course I noticed that the nature of law itself [mostly the dominance and expectations of positive law] was holding me back from these aims. In response, two options presented themselves. Either switch to career paths to African Studies or alternatively, investigate a closer critique of legal knowledge in this regard. This is not really a thriller tale I am writing here, many readers will know that I did not switch to African Studies. However, despite my continued misgivings about the field, you can still find references to African studies in some of my bios. In this blog post, I will explore some of reasons why I was tempted to go into African studies and why ultimately, the temptation fizzled to nothing. As such, the post is essentially divided into two sections. The first comments on the paucity of scholarship on Africa and why this is actually an indictment of the purposes and nature of knowledge cultivation and transmission, generally. Secondly, I explain why African Studies seems to actually exacerbate the horribleness of this paucity rather than mitigate it.
In this post I want to reflect on two main ways in which the concept of allyship against injustice is conceived… and then argue for a third way. I often get asked at talks on decolonisation/EDI how to be a good ally in the fight against racial injustice. I struggle with this question for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t really like telling people what to do, especially with reference to antiracist work. I don’t think there is a magic formula that solves all the problems. I am always happy to tell people what I think about things and let people decide what they want to do for themselves. Secondly, and probably more importantly, I think the word “ally” itself is not able to do the work that we are calling upon it to do – especially with reference to antiracist or decolonising work.
I started writing this post about 4 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. I am updating it once again, in May 2022. Currently, academic unions are on strike in both Nigeria and the UK. I have been updating and changing this post as the situation keeps changing in both countries. I have decided to publish this version as a preliminary overview. As developments develop, I may write additional posts as brief updates or observations on what is happening at that time. The picture is pretty grim for academia everywhere in the world. I have always been embedded in universities. I was born in one and apart from a year at the Nigerian Law School and my time in legal practice, I have always lived, worked or been at university. People may be able to tell from my work that I have a great passion for the future of universities and the role they may play in shaping new and just worlds. Or if they have any future at all.
I have been writing various versions of this post about romances and race for a while now. Probably since 2018. It started out as a sort-of review of The Power of One… there were also some additional thoughts that arose out of my review of Palm Trees in the Snow – which is, like the Power of One and Bridgerton, also a book-to-film adaptation. Then, the first season of Bridgerton was released at the end of 2019. I noticed that the things I wanted to say about the utilisations of cinematic portrayals of romance in both adaptations from book to film, were also being borne out in the adaptation of the Bridgerton novels… and even more so, as the adaptation adopted a counterfactual historical lens to depict a somewhat raceless picture of the past. However, so as not to conflate my gripes with adaptation with my gripes about race, representation and alternative histories, I have decided to focus in this particular post on the latter and consign the former to a different post. As always, watch this space for the other post… coming soon. Touch wood.
Amílcar Lopes da Costa Cabral was a Pan-African revolutionary whose anticolonial resistance brought Portuguese colonialism in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde to its knees. As a leader focused on liberation, he also defined and redefined the boundaries of and between, revolutionary action and revolutionary theorisation. He demonstrated the ways in which being a freedom fighter was inextricable from theorising liberation. For him revolution was also and always critically thinking, and revolution was also and always actually fighting. Revolution was “both… and.” Thus, as a theorist of decolonisation, Cabral stands out because, as Ferreira explains, “when he recognized that there was a breach to be closed, he stepped into it.” Cabral was willing to put his whole body, mind and soul on the line to achieve the outcome he believed was necessary for the liberation of his people… And so till the sea devours the earth, the shores of Cape Verde and the forests of Guinea-Bissau will echo with the strains of his name, “Viva Cabral!”
I am often asked to share some of my lectures and talks and I am never sure exactly which one will be helpful in the particular context. So I have decided to collect some of them together here. Of course a lot of them are on ‘decolonisation’ – an exceedingly broad topic indeed. But there are other topics here – such as African history and study skills. You can also check out my Youtube channel – which is slightly more up to date that this list. I will endeavour to keep this collection updated as well. As usual, the talks are collated thematically.
As is my usual practice, I begin each year on the blog with a post that opens the year by reflecting on the activities and lessons from the past year. To that end, here’s my round up of my blogging activity of 2021, as well as news of some other academic writing and activity. My blogging frequency was down in 2021, because apart from the global pancake, I also decided to write a book. The book (still in progress at January 2022) aims to detail my thoughts on the ways in which decolonisation should and can inform teaching and researching law, focusing on the conceptual approaches that are possible, and I believe necessary, in this conversation. Watch this space for the book. Writing has gone better than expected in some ways, but there is still some more hard work to be done before publication dates and information can be announced.
I am writing this at the end of a tiring academic term, staving off burnout from overwork and the trepidation that comes from existing through a brutal global pandemic. There may be mistakes in this post. Please correct me with love. But today I want to write out of the grief/love so many people are expressing at the crossing over of bell hooks. A radical Black feminist teacher, thinker and writer has joined the ancestors. And our grief/love cannot be contained. I say grief/love to note how deeply felt much of the scholarship of bell hooks is, and how she helps us to understand the ways in which we may bring all of ourselves into the academy. But also to note how her work extends beyond the academy. The idea that grief is love persevering relies so much of the pedagogy of compassion that bell hooks embodies.
FACE is seeking new members to join its planning committee. The planning committee is tasked with, among other things:
- Sharing ideas in committee planning,
- Designing publicity material,
- Managing the website and social medial channels,
- Handling correspondence,
- Ambassadorial work – telling people about FACE, through private social media channels, and
- Building a nurturing community.
If you would like to join/know more, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org