The university in South Africa became a key site of struggle in 2015. Faculty and university leadership were taken by surprise as students demanded a change in the curriculum and increased access to affordable education. The protests were spearheaded by students part of the Rhodes Must Fall Movement (RMF) at the University of Cape Town but were later taken forward by a range of movements at other universities, including the University of Oxford. The student struggles expanded into broader demands for decolonisation, transformation and Africanisation. This public lecture examines why the university in South Africa has become a site of struggle and aims to make sense of the recent rise of student movements.
Professor Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni is Head of the Archie Mafeje Research Institute for Applied Social Policy (AMRI) and the founder and coordinator of the Africa Decolonial Research Network (ADERN) at the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria. He is a historian and decolonial theorist who has published extensively in African history, politics, and development. His most recent books include Mugabeism? History, Politics and Power in Zimbabwe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015); The Decolonial Mandela: Peace, Justice and the Politics of Life (Berghahn Books, 2016); and Empire, Global Coloniality and African Subjectivity (Berghahn Books, 2013). He is currently working on a co-edited book provisionally entitled Epistemic Break in Humanities and Social Sciences: Towards Decolonization of the African University.