Defining an African Vocabulary for the Exploration of Possibilities in Higher Education

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Siseko H Kumalo


In a review of Coetzee’s White Writing (1988) and Gordimer’s Essential Gesture (1988), Lewis Nkosi (1989) highlights fundamental deficits in South African literature. Owing to inadequate resources and statutory racial divides – instituted by apartheid – Nkosi (1989) responds to these deficits through what I interpret as a series of provocations, that posit an African Vocabulary.
Using a narrative approach I suggest a rudimentary articulation of an African Vocabulary. I explore the negotiation of power, and ethics from an African ontological framework for the purposes of reimagining an inclusive higher education system that is decolonised. This treatise facilitates my conceptualisation of an African Vocabulary in a post-apartheid, decolonial higher education landscape in South Africa through revealing colonial attempts at the decimation of African ontologies.
Through this contribution, I aim to articulate an African Vocabulary and trouble representations of African subjectivities as static and primitive. I therefore highlight and challenge sustained colonial descriptions of a gradual African epistemic framework. I frame the use of an African Vocabulary in the South African academy as an initial move towards substantive decolonisation.


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How to Cite
Kumalo, S. (2018). Defining an African Vocabulary for the Exploration of Possibilities in Higher Education. Alternation Journal, (23), 197-223. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Siseko H Kumalo, University of Pretoria

Philosophy Department

South Africa