Higher Education, Research and Knowledge for African Integration

Mammo Muchie

Central to the peculiarities of the evolution of modern higher education, research and knowledge in Africa, is the lack of indigenous authenticity and identity. This is in spite of historical records which show that, before Africa’s subjection to the colonial technology of rule, there were recorded histories of indigenous higher learning in Timbuktu and other parts of Africa. This higher learning from the pre-colonial and pre-slavery period was historically ruptured and disrupted by the colonial-imperial project in Africa that also took the form of enslaving whole communities and forcibly evicting them for the purposes of slave labour in the New World of the Americas. The contributions of this pre-15th century knowledge have not been acknowledged or recognised. In fact, they have been bypassed, ignored, and suppressed rather than being used to serve as building blocs for contemporary higher education development in Africa. Thus, instead of continuity, what has taken place is discontinuity in research, knowledge, higher education and learning. This context of historical rupture and the erasure of pre-existing knowledge remains an issue that cannot be ignored. It has been suggested that the longer one looks back to history, the further ahead one can be inspired into the future. For Africa, its contribution to knowledge before the 15th century has not been explored and its contemporary relevance for revitalising higher education, research and knowledge has not been appreciated.

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