Within the last decade, a number of universities in the Global North have begun to come to terms with the complicity of the academe in the legitimisation, perpetuation and erasure from intellectual memory of the Transatlantic Slave trade and attendant practice of slavery. Particular interest is being paid to financial gains, direct and indirect, as well as in some cases the use of actual labour of persons enslaved.
I have also been quite motivated by varying perspectives on the nature of freedom. Followers of African Skies may have read one or all of the following pieces I have written on freedom. It would be fair to say that I am very preoccupied with the idea of freedom, what it entails. When we know we have got it. What it means. How we define freedom. The thing is that we often think of freedom as an absolute – We are either free or we are not. I do not agree with this. Which is why I describe freedom as a becoming.
Ok, so I love and hate romcoms… Due to the nature and content of my research, I often need something light to step away from the darkness of human injustice. So I love rom-coms. I have watched Love Actually at least 10 times, and the Sound of Music owes at least £1000 worth of their revenue to my viewing alone. However there seems to be this misconception that they should be held to a lower standard and can dispense with logic, verisimilitude and connections to reality. So I am here to share some of my personal gripes:
Apparently it still needs to be said. Africa is not a country. It is the second largest continent in the world. Europe and the Americas can comfortably fit into its landmass. Simultaneously. Africa is 55 countries and 2 disputed territories (I am counting Somaliland as a country. The whys and wherefores of that are a whole different article. I can’t shout.)
On the tenth of March 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, travelling between Addis Ababa and Nairobi, fell out of the sky, leaving 157 massive holes in the universe. Spaces never again to be filled. Cracks never to be mended. It is now the 11th of March 2019 and I am yet to come to terms with a particular death. Prof Pius Adesanmi. Kogite. Nigerian. African. Academic. Intellectual.
It is March 2019, Nigerians have just elected a ‘new’ President, some old and new Governors and members of the legislative houses. In this brief prezi lecture, I argue that the practice of elections in Nigeria reveals that a lot of international laws and norms were not designed for African contexts. The approach has been to suggest that African states adapt their contexts to international norms, but that seems impossible. And so we are held in a permanent state of negative peace, hoping elections do not tip the delicate balance.
At the time of writing this piece, I was putting together reading for a lecture which asks the audience to think about the meaning(s) of freedom. In preparing the lecture, I have found so many different definitions of freedom, that I begin to realise that freedom may be a nebulous term. Primarily, it should be noted that definitions of freedom and demands for freedom are often a reaction to unfreedom. This is why it often seems that freedom is not found when the mechanisms and overt structures of unfreedom are removed, because the ideologies and imperatives that created it still exist, and the removal of unfreedom just provides an opportunity to destroy its clay and reform the unfreedom into more acceptable and less recognisable shapes.
Academically and in my legal practice, I started out as a human rights lawyer. Firmly of the belief that equality and human rights were the solutions to the world’s problems. Stepping further into dark jurisprudential waters, I began to question the nature of law and human rights and equality. So, I have ended up being a decolonial teacher.
Close your eyes…
What do you see when I say the word, ‘Africa.’?
Open your ears…
What do you hear in the presence of the sound…. ‘Africa’?
2019 is going to be a big year in elections for Africa.