Counting Falola worthy of occupying this important role sends a strong signal of certainty that the University of Pretoria, alongside its various intellectual communities, have identified with what his academic engagements have triggered in intellectual conversations. This appointment will provoke the highest level of delight in many others.
The University of Pretoria Council South Africa has just appointed the eminent scholar, Toyin Falola, as an Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Political Sciences, from where he will be seconded to the African Centre for the Study of the United States, University of Pretoria (ACSUS-UP). He has accepted the offer with a promise to immediately commence the responsibilities associated with this thoughtful appointment.
The conferment of this appointment on Falola reflects the deep-seated feeling of attachment that he, as an academic, and the University of Pretoria, have towards humanities generally, especially concerning the need to provide alternative perspectives to issues and emerging sociopolitical trends poised to shift erstwhile orientations widely held in the global knowledge economy. Counting Falola worthy of occupying this important role sends a strong signal of certainty that the University of Pretoria, alongside its various intellectual communities, have identified with what his academic engagements have triggered in intellectual conversations. This appointment will provoke the highest level of delight in many others.
As expected, Falola has promised to be actively involved in the supervision of postgraduate students in the Department of Political Science and ACSUS-UP, whenever assigned. A significant part of his academic career has been dedicated to a lifelong productive relationship with postgraduates, who he has mentored, directed, guided and even aided their academic progression, through informed engagements and the systematic evaluation of issues. Therefore, being accorded an opportunity to continue in this trajectory, especially by the University of Pretoria, renews his spirit and would most certainly get the best of his attention and dedication to service. It was stated in the Letter of Appointment that Falola is expected to partake in the research agenda and projects of the University, for which he considers himself ready in the course of his career progression too as an academic, first, and secondly, as an African whose lifelong ambition is to be an active participant in engagements that would catapult the continent to its deserved height in global affairs. Since academia has offered Falola this dreamed opportunity, he cannot emphasise enough how instrumental he will be in this regard.
The above would therefore facilitate the third possible responsibility that Pretoria has deemed fit for Falola as an Extraordinary Professor. Publication of research materials has always been an enduring desire of all academics so that their intellectual efforts would have a wider coverage of readership and, in the process, acceptability. In essence, research engagements that predominantly include Falola’s participation would be seriously worked on to ensure their publications with the notable and international publishing industry. It is a fundamental development that would bring to the academic environment of South Africa as a whole, and the University of Pretoria in particular, the anticipated intellectual advancement that projects not only the findings of seasoned scholars there but also the ones from collaborative and transdisciplinary works. As also stated, Falola is open to participation in seminars and conferences; I believe strongly that this would substantially enhance knowledge transfers, were exchanging ideas would further refine our intellectual and moral principles as a community and then as individuals. Different conferences, I am aware, are held periodically at the University of Pretoria Future Africa campus to gather people together to deepen conversations around identified topics. Keeping this legacy would reinforce the amount of information we can share during Falola’s service.
His latest book published in 2022, Decolonizing African Studies: Knowledge Production, Agency, And Voice, offers a rough-hewn examination of African studies with its seemingly eternal glorification of its Eurocentric counterpart, apparently doing epistemic damage to the African identity. The thematic focus of the work is to break the bondage of inferiority that has compelled African intellectuals to underutilise their indigenous knowledge system and structure…
Toyin Falola needs no introduction. He has contributed substantially to our understanding of African politics since the precolonial times till date. Among his latest accomplishments are a series of Handbooks that give a good theoretical and practical evaluation of situations to reach an informed position. His latest book published in 2022, Decolonizing African Studies: Knowledge Production, Agency, And Voice, offers a rough-hewn examination of African studies with its seemingly eternal glorification of its Eurocentric counterpart, apparently doing epistemic damage to the African identity. The thematic focus of the work is to break the bondage of inferiority that has compelled African intellectuals to underutilise their indigenous knowledge system and structure, which are generally expected to engineer a resolute demographic of Africans who would challenge the domination of others who have held them in perpetual bondage. In ways completely interlinked with the South African political experience, the book x-rays the negative consequences of imperialism and how its effects have crawled into the mental department of the people, silently disparaging their thought processes for reasons that would never benefit Africans. The book argues that decolonisation is a promising way out for the people.
In 2022, Falola coedited a Handbook titled The Oxford Handbook of Nigerian History, where contributors explored different themes about Nigerian history. The book features contributions from various scholars of history and politics, who provide a more robust academic engagement that highlights a timeline of historical experience that has been hitherto poorly organised, distorted or manipulated for purposes known best to the writers. The Nigerian history, they discovered, has always been painted in revisionist colour, where the tones of invading colonisers have been given superordinate preferences. Therefore, this has necessitated that many innocent Nigerians and, by implication, the global audience seeking a true history of the people, have been fed with distorted information that dictates their relationship with the people. To this extent, many sociopolitical and even academic involvements of the affected have been determined by the revisionist information with which their mental faculty has been programmed. In collaboration with the other scholar involved in the publication, they can situate the good Nigerian history within its deserved position in the intellectual space and filter out the over-saturated misinformation previously created and shared by those interested in Africa for financial and strictly exploitative gains.
The Palgrave Handbook of African Education and Indigenous Knowledge, produced in 2020, follows a familiar trajectory of protest culture against the individuation of African epistemology. It reveals, first, that the education associated with African people in the contemporary time is designed to honour the structure of those inherited from colonial experiences. To that extent, the indigenous knowledge systems and their identified sociological responsibilities have been impaired by the new ones and handicapped by them. As such, the implantation of the Western ideas of humanity and personhood, aided, for example, by the application of Western epistemic legacies, has forced the African minds to conceive of themselves from the lens of their erstwhile predators, which among other things, contaminates the original sense of being to an irreparable degree. As such, the average African has reservations against nearly all African philosophies, ideologies and even perspectives on living. This book, therefore, traces indigenous African knowledge, its production and distribution methods and the sociocultural import linked with it. This, therefore, helps in reinforcing the assumption that African epistemic systems are not inferior, and neither are they inadequate. Their challenge has always come from the inferiorisation of their heritages for no particular reason.
In 2019, Falola co-edited a book titled Oppression and Resistance in Africa and The Diaspora, and the material refracted the various experiences of oppression that the generality of African people witnessed in their recent history. Of particular interest is the suppressive and oppressive experience that the South African people were subjected to during the agonising years of apartheid. The pains and anguish people faced are best imagined as they witnessed the catastrophic collapse of their indigenous structures, both at the level of observable infrastructure and moral systems. To the extent that Black South Africans were forced to subdue their sense of self and, in exchange, embrace the irreconcilable ideas of the predatory civilisation, so much that they had their humanity downgraded and squashed with callous indignity. They could not have access to economic resources, and every of their potential is drained on the corridor of wastage. However, they stood up to these people and also challenged the superstructure. In essence, the book x-rays the various dehumanizing experiments and experiences that these people were subjected to, evaluating their various styles of protest against all these questionable moral behaviours. Their protest led to the actualisation of freedom and opened the door to identity reclamation, which gave them the anticipated respite. As such, the works are foregrounded for their political and historical importance.
…his coedited work, Africa and Globalization: Challenges of Governance and Creativity, produced in 2018, explored a different but thematically connected subject matter. It seems Africa is caught in the ebb of a restless yet rapid globalisation, so much that its leadership struggles to consider what it meant by development and how their conception of it would reflect what they face as a people.
Meanwhile, his coedited work, Africa and Globalization: Challenges of Governance and Creativity, produced in 2018, explored a different but thematically connected subject matter. It seems Africa is caught in the ebb of a restless yet rapid globalisation, so much that its leadership struggles to consider what it meant by development and how their conception of it would reflect what they face as a people. It is observed, for example, that from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the technological development that introduced internet culture, Africans have always experienced one form of destabilisation. Consider, for example, that when Europe accomplished the Industrial Revolution, Africa was being ransacked by them, either for the enslavement of the people or for the planting of colonisation expeditions. This would eventually be overcome by the fast-moving globalisation project, which still meets the people at the spot of leadership quagmire. In essence, governance has been grossly ineffective as they have had many complications to deal with in their postcolonial time. This has affected their creativity in all ramifications, and the book offers an inciteful perspective to enrich the knowledge community. It is a success, given that it received wider acceptability from the reading public.
Despite his exploration of the above topics, a book produced in 2018 titled Exploitation and Misrule in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa has been expository writing on the exploitation of Africa and Africans, this time not from the staple of predatory civilisations but the active participation of the African leaders. In all parts of the ex-colonised civilisations, Africa appears to be the most tormented with visionless leadership. That leaders beleaguer them without any business with leadership has increased their chances of underdevelopment, as they have no clear-cut roadmap or blueprint for their collective development. It, therefore, seems from their very attitudes that they consider, first, the accumulation of public resources for their provincial interests. This has inevitably led to the manoeuvring of their systems to assuage the leaders of the moral and ideological punishment they deserve for their unpatriotic engagement against their motherland.
An example is that African leaders expend fortunes to scuttle the process in almost all political circles so they would be favoured in the long run. And the question comes clearly to mind: To what extent would an individual truly be ready to sacrifice when s/he is expected to offer selfless services? The irony in the idea that leaders are extravagant in Africa would therefore reveal reasons for continuing exploitation and misrule that is now characteristic of Africa.
These are part of Professor Falola’s pedigree, which he will be bringing to the University of Pretoria to advance the frontiers of knowledge, improve visibility and internationalisation for the African Centre for the Study of the United States, the Department of Political Sciences, the Faculty of Humanities and the University of Pretoria at large.
Tinashe Nyamunda is an Associate Professor in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies, ACSUS, University of Pretoria, South Africa.