An interesting perspective from Alina Segobye, who trained first in the study of African languages, then in archeology, was how scientists can be so positivist. She illustrated her point with reference to the astrophysicists in South Africa, who attract large sums of money and occlude the work of afrocentric physicists. Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) projects do not receive the kind of money other projects do. She said poignantly, it is not just about the present, but the pasts and the knowledges lost that one wants to reclaim. (One would really like to have had more time to listen to these speakers, and I am sure I can't do them justice either in this potted summary.) Tshepo Moloi from the UJ SRC acknowledged how the students have pushed the agenda to make us/the audience confront the violent practices in every lecture hall they go to. Further, he felt that the students' struggle at least got the topic of decolonizing the curriculum, to the point of today's session. He said there is nothing wrong with the current discourses, but "please let us see ourselves within the degrees that are taught - otherwise UJ - how is it an African university?"
Nelson Maldonado-Torres is another speaker whom I would not be able to do justice to, by summarizing his words. He introduced his own views by sharing with us, that he is from Puerto Rico, one of the oldest colonies in the world. And yet in South Africa many, white and black, view him as white, and reveal things they might not otherwise do, which gives him an unusual perspective on the local situation. He maintains that decolonializing generates anxiety because it unsettles one's sense of wellbeing and belonging, and in this way generates forms of bad faith. It is brutal because it calls identities into question, it calls the enlightenment into question. He made a distinction between colonialism over the past 500 years and the period before that. Colonialism over the recent past celebrates newness and secularism, over colonized and condemned subjects. He argued for the need to decriminalize student activism, and to see students as epistemological agents of change. Structural changes need to happen to empower students, as they are not unified and lack resources. Empower them and they will become sources of knowledge.
The time for panelists was running out so Nyasha Mboti made a dramatic input about the fact that the colony is a fiction, a lie, but one that remains extremely destructive. Related to this, given the myths that are perpetuated by colonialists, "knowledge is an active production of ignorance". Vineet Thakur spoke last, with some sobering realities from the Indian context where the romanticisation of the precolonial past (despite patriarchy and the caste system) has prompted the nationalist government to exercise oppressive actions agains those who criticize it, charging one student with sedition. For him, "decolonialisation involves continuous critique, a dialectical engagement".