The memory of Ugandan academic, author, political activist and development specialist, the late Prof Dani Wadada Nabudere was brought to life at a commemoration seminar by the Office of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and the Institute for Dispute Resolution in Africa (IDRA) on 11 June 2012.
Under the theme Afrikology as a philosophical and epistemological foundation for dispute resolution, the seminar paid homage to Prof Nabudere and his legacy not fully articulated, including a philosophical and epistemological foundation for Pan-Afrikanism and Afrikology as well as visible social capital.
Close friend of Prof Nabudere and incumbent of the Department of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation South African Research Chair in Development Education, Prof Catherine Odora Hoppers shared an emotional address on the person and scholar. She explained how hearing the news of his death devastated her. “My head could not get it. Prof Nabudere was a giant. He was a giant trying to make Africa proud of herself.”
In the true spirit of sisterhood, Dr Thandi Sidzumo-Mazibuko, Executive Director: Diversity Management, Equity & Transformation, joined a tearful Prof Hoppers at the podium, who was unable to continue with her tribute due to the devastation of losing a very dear friend and hero. “We teamed up in working out the best concepts, such as restorative justice and transdisciplinarity, that would guide African academics going forward. Typical of him, he liked going to the roots which irritated me sometimes,” said Dr Sidzumo-Mazibuko (on behalf of Prof Hoppers). She added, “We have lost one of the most principled intellectuals I have ever known. What I can say is that as long as I live, I will carry his intellectual cross.”
This intellectual cross was better understood through the viewing of a DVD entitled, “The Heart of Nabudere” where Prof Nabudere shared his thoughts and ideologies.
Also sharing his life experiences with Prof Nabudere and talking about the future of Afrikology as epistemology for dispute resolution in Africa was Prof Babuuzibwa Mukasa Luutu, Vice-Chancellor of the Marcus Garvey Pan-Afrikan Institute, Uganda. “He had set a legacy in Uganda and if Nabudere had any reason to live longer it would have to be to take more walks with Catherine (Hoppers) because she is the pathway to take this further”. In reframing key issues, Prof Luutu said there are three ways to understand Afrikology i.e. as a way of knowing; a philosophy of the identity of being (as Africans); and a philosophy of engagement. “We get Africans today who are confused about who they are, where they have come from and where they are going. A way of knowing by tracing where you have come from was one of Nabuderes’ tasks. He saw Afrikology as breaking boundaries of discipline.”
Engaging on a philosophical critique of Prof Nabuderes’ ‘Afrikology’ was Prof Mogobe Ramose, Professor Extraordinarius, Department of Philosophy, Unisa. “One of the basic problems with Nabuderes’ argument for an all inclusive epistemological paradigm is precisely the use of the term ‘Afrikology’. Because of conquest experience, ‘Afrikology’ cannot be the ‘logos’ (knowledge and the science) of the indigenous people of Africa, since their ways of knowing and doing were forcibly excluded and continue to be subordinated to the putatively ‘universal’ epistemological paradigm of the conqueror,” he said. Referring to Prof Nabudere, he adds “The point is that his own formidable and laudable argument cannot without contradiction be called ‘Afrikology’,” he said.
Upon conclusion of the seminar, IDRA was officially launched by Prof John Faris, Head: IDRA. “Western theory is applied to Africa for the purposes of dispute processing and dispute resolution. This tends to escalate the problem because of the failure to contextualise the situation according to African custom, culture and values. IDRA’s broad agenda is to generate research based on African epistemology and community knowledge that in time will provide an independent body of trans-disciplinary literature that replaces reliance on the Western conflict model,” he said. IDRA became operational on 1 January 2011.