Great African Thinkers Seminar Series 2017 / 2018
Facilitator: Dr Mvu Ngcoya
In most South African universities, African philosophers and thinkers are pushed to the flanks of contemporary thought and practice. The few that make cameo appearances in course outlines, often occupy the soft world of culture, not political economy, science, philosophy, law, history, etc. This Seminar Series reverses this Hegelian doubt (to wit, whether Africa has a history) and imbalance by familiarizing the world with the most palpable, original inspiring contributions of African thinkers to contemporary debates, agendas and practices. It is a vibrant platform for scholars to present how insights from African thinkers have shaped their own thinking and practice. Our focus is global Africa, therefore, contributions will include key thinkers from the fractured African Diaspora who were displaced by slavery, colonialism, and globalization.
Seminar 1: Contemplating Négritude and Black Consciousness in twenty-first century South Africa: Reading Anton Lembede with Paulette Nardal
Speaker: Prof. Rozena Maart
Date: Wednesday 27 September 2017
Venue: CCS Seminar Room A726, Level 7, Shepstone, Howard College, UKZN
This seminar focuses on the work of forgotten and hardly-ever-mentioned Paulette Nardal (1896-1985) and the contribution she, along with her four sisters, made to the intellectual thought of the Négritude movement, otherwise solely credited to the work of Césaire, Damas and Senghor. Scholars of the Négritude movement outside of France rarely speak of her. Born in Martinique, a colony of France, Paulette Nardal has not enjoyed the same intellectual fame as her compatriot Frantz Fanon. She co-founded the journal, La Revue du monde Noir (Review of the Black World) and served as its editor, translator, and writer. A teacher, literary critic, journalist, UN delegate, her trailblazing work provided the intellectual scaffolding for the bold critiques and demands of 20th century African liberation movements. In a world dominated by men (Léopold Senghor, Aimé Césaire, Claude McKay, Alain Locke, Langston Hughes), she and her collaborators are generally relegated to the footnotes of the African intellectual tradition. Anton Lembede, born in KwaZulu-Natal 18 years after (21st January 1914-30 July 1947) Paulette Nardal, is not read as he should be read — as a mastermind of the ANC Youth League and for the thoughts and ideas Sobukwe and Biko later adopted. Lembede was a philosopher and a thinker who sought to examine the relationship between consciousness and politics in ways those of his generation were simply not able to. He was indeed an extraordinary intellectual and scholar. Born as the First World War commenced, and dead before the Nationalist Party’s policy of apartheid was installed, Lembede was a pioneer whose philosophical work is in serious need of resurrection. This presentation will examine the work of Nardal and Lembede alongside one another.
Prof. Rozena Maart first joined UKZN in 2011 as the Head of Gender Studies. In 2013 she took up the post of Acting Director of the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity [CCRRI] and became the director later that year and served to see it grow into a centre with international and national recognition, for 4 years. Prof. Rozena Maart works in Political Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Critical Race Theory and Black Consciousness. She also writes fiction, and has published three award-winning fiction books, one of which contains the story, ‘No Rosa, No District Six,’ which won “The Journey Prize: Best Short Fiction in Canada, 1992.” A UWC alumni, who took her Masters degree at the university of York in the UK, and her PhD from the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) in Birmingham, UK, Professor Maart was recently awarded the William R. Jones life-time achievement award by her peers in Philosophy Born of Struggle for her work in Philosophy.Posted on