Africa spoke once again on 9 May 2012 at the Senate Hall, Muckleneuk Campus, Pretoria. The Africa Speaks lecture series, which takes place every two months, provides young academics at Unisa with an opportunity to interact with Africa’s best intellectuals in the social sciences and humanities. The African Scholar Dr Gordon Ade-Ojo was the keynote speaker at this month’s seminar.
Dr Ade-Ojo started his teaching career in higher education teaching a range of English as a second language (ESL) and linguistics courses. After a period working in industry as a trainer and assessor he managed curriculum and programme areas in various further education colleges. Dr Ade-Ojo now leads the delivery of the subject specialist course in literacy. He has worked in teaching and training for the past 25 years and has published over 20 articles in accredited journals in the past decade.
Dr Ade-Ojo presented a paper titled Theory, Ideology, and the Danger of Totalitarianism: Implications for Knowledge Enquiry and Policy Making. He explored and reflected on the concepts of theory, ideology and doctrine and argued that the line between these can be blurred. Dr Ade-Ojo believes that although theory and ideology maybe good for academia, they can also be lethal. He emphasised that while theory is fundamental to academia, academics should also take the opportunity to look at other theories. “There is a real totalitarian danger in believing that a certain value system is superior to others. The danger is sliding from the engagement of theory and ideology as instruments of discourse and not acknowledging opposing views from others. If we are to stick to our own theory and can’t entertain other views there is a danger that we can become blind,” he said.
Dr Ade-Ojo accentuated the idea of being academically free. He stated, “Academics should be governed by flexibility and openness to learn more and consider other possibilities. Granted, theory is the lifeblood of what we do, but we must remember that it is a tool, we should not allow theory to manipulate. I’m calling for a debate about what constitutes knowledge. The challenge is for African academics and scholars to stop being brain-washed into thinking that the dominate discourse is that which comes from the outside and is better than what is in Africa.”
He concluded by saying that he is sincerely thankful for the invitation, and stated, “I am an African and when Africa Speaks I feel privileged to be part of the speakers.” He declared that it is high time that Africa develops home-grown theories rather than relying on outsides theories and ideologies.
The vision of the Africa Speaks lecture series is to nurture, develop and sustain a vibrant community of researchers and intellectuals in the CHS connected to the African continent and Diaspora so that we can continue to be innovative in our quest for truth and our contributions to universal knowledge and the transformative needs of a developmental African state.
One of the aims of the lecture series is to create an innovative platform in which research in the CHS is enhanced by providing mentoring, role modelling and networking opportunities for developing scholars working in the CHS. In the process the CHS hopes to develop a community of critical researc
hers across the African continent and the African Diaspora.
By Kgaugelo Pule