School of Education

Education Master’s Graduate investigates a decolonised philosophy of African history

Mr Mlamuli Tabhu.
Mr Mlamuli Tabhu.

Mr Mlamuli Tabhu graduated with a Master’s in Education for his research entitled, “Towards a Decolonised Philosophy of African History: Theoretical Reflections of History Academics in South Africa.” The study investigated the coloniality and decolonised philosophy of African history through critical engagements with the designated history academics in South Africa.

The findings revealed that the academics viewed the coloniality of the philosophy of African history through a modernist conception of the philosophy of African history, emphasis on the African crisis, and Africa as ahistorical.

Further findings on a decolonised philosophy of African history were theorised through an Africanist conception of the philosophy of African history, emphasis on African agency, and African self-consciousness. It is within the consideration of the above research findings that the study aimed at contributing to the looming and continued debates in Africa, and precisely South Africa, concerning the nature of the philosophy of African history in this age of decolonisation discourses with specific reference to History Education.

Said Tabhu, ‘Anyone who reads my study will benefit a lot. First and foremost, the study introduced a decolonial conception of history itself which saw history not as a study of the past but as the clock that people use to tell their political, cultural, and philosophical times of the day. For Africans, history defines who they are, where they have been, and where they should be. Another major contribution of the study was the presentation of that time we call African which is not linear but in cycles.

‘The importance of this finding lies in the whole idea that cycles date from birth, initiation, and death. Our lives are marked by cycles that shade and overlap with each other. That is to say, African philosophy of history dismisses the Eurocentric idea of history, and philosophy of history is permeated by linear modernist thought that can be rendered this way: ‘ahistory,’ ‘prehistory,’ and ‘History’ (with a capital ‘H’).

Tabhu is grateful for the support received from his family, especially his mother, Bukiwe Eunice Hlabe, friends, and his supervisor, Dr Marshall Maposa.

Advising other scholars, Tabhu said, ‘Decolonisation from an African-centred worldview is not a simple task but it requires committed scholars in mapping unconventional ways of being and cognising whose metaphysics is African from the beginning. This metaphysics rest on Ngugi’s injunction concerning a decolonised education which is well known to us all by the following proposition: education is a means of knowledge about ourselves, having examined ourselves, we radiate outwards to discover people and the world around us. With Africa at the centre of things, not existing as an appendix of other countries and literature, things must be seen from the African perspective.’

Of his future plans, he said, ‘A PhD awaits me. I will be grappling with decolonised schools of thought in History Education – intellectual orientations of key historians in South Africa. The attempt is to give meaning and expression to the calls for a decolonised history. To this end, the dissertation is emerging from the literature search of the prolific historian Professor Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni who grapples with the succeeding question: How African is African history? This is a loaded question that haunts historians today. It encapsulates several epistemic challenges faced by historians as they try to produce African history.

‘Simply put, decolonised schools of thought in History Education emerge from such questions as to how free is African history from the Eurocentric idea of history and philosophy of history,’ he said.

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