60 years De-Colonisation: Black and African Experience in Knowledge Decolonisation.

Blog, Founder’s Note / Feb. 14th, 2022

I waited until I got the video before sharing my text, but sometimes waiting does not serve you.

I was invited to THE 3RD GERMAN-AFRICAN DIASPORA CONFERENCE/WORKSHOP IN DORTMUND, GERMANY 03RD – 05TH SEPTEMBER 2021 and I feel it necessary to share the speech/talk/lecture I gave in the form of a letter which was followed by a long and welcomed Q&A (which I am unable to share now). For now, though, think about this.


Title as a metaphor

I would love to start this by giving you something to think about. Embrace it and let it take you to where you need to go. Most of you have been here at the conference, talking about 60 years of independence and I ask, what independence? – Think about this really well, but before you start thinking, ask yourself, “What does it mean to be independent?”

We Begin

This year, Goethe-Institut will be celebrating 60 years in Ghana and I am asking a few questions:

When will they find it okay to allow us to control our own destiny, our narrative and more? When will it be okay to start sending non-white directors to Africa? What do they think when they keep sending white directors?

Goethe-Institut Ghana’s Directors’ list since 1961


Ghana was the first African country south of the Sahara to obtain “independence” – 1957 = 64 years. So, if these institutions who represent their governments still find it necessary to send white directors – and just because they cannot have white presidents in African countries – what do you think they are doing to truly remain the benefactors of our continent and of Black people around the world?

Why Don’t We?

Why don’t we celebrate our pre-colonial history more than we celebrate “independence”? Why don’t we investigate and hold high African countries that were never colonised?

These are important questions! Let’s ponder over them and begin to question these ideas we hold very dear.

The system within which we find ourselves forces us to celebrate Ghana’s 1957 independence as Africa’s pride and not Ethiopia’s history that never fell into full colonial control.

The idea of independence is corrupt once you even look at it from the point of departure. The idea of nationhood is imported; colonisation was and is evil; the concept of granting independence remains a performance. If England won’t atone for its atrocities, if the commonwealth still exists, if Germany places all its focus on its Holocaust past and neither addresses the genocide and plunders on the continent of Africa nor takes responsibility for the scramble for Africa (formalised at the Berlin Conference of 1884), then I ask again what independence is?

The reason we fight to tell our stories, the reason we intervene, interrogate, investigate, contemplate, create, make propositions – as people of Black and African heritage and those within the many intersections – is not for an immediate change. We do all of this in the tradition of what was, is and might be.

Angela Davis said, “Freedom is a constant struggle” – which means there is no final point for freedom. For as long as we exist, as long as we can operate as individuals and as a collective, we shall forever be led by our different perspectives. This is always developed by our environment and life experience.

My Great grandmother, Eruasen Omonhinmin, would always say, “No matter how beautiful a story or an experience is, once the word ‘BUT’ is introduced the story loses its sweetness” and this is the case of the battle to have a true conversation on independence. We must be ready to ask the real questions – independence from what? Then, and only then, can we judge if we are truly independent and that cannot be discussed without addressing the concepts of “white supremacy”, capitalism and patriarchy.

And, we as Black and African people cannot truly discuss our collective independence without addressing the experiences of those within the margins, such as the Black and African LGBTQ+ community. Until we truly value the experience of the Black and African trans person, space will never be fully independent. The Ghanaian government with the current anti-LGBTQ+ bill, for example, is saying they are not safe.

So, the person sitting next to you, younger or older, is not your enemy. We have been systematically disconnected with language, politics, religion, colonisation, capitalism et al “BUT” we have been given so much by our ancestors – in nuance, spirituality, ancestry lineage, family/community, fluidity – and just the fact that we are the longest and oldest here on earth so far means we will be here for a long time. Thus, no matter the obstacle placed in front of us, our ancestors fought and we continue to fight for our individual and collective freedom.

Collective change cannot be achieved in a vacuum; we must open up as a society and begin the conversation at dinner tables and at home.

Collective change cannot be achieved in a vacuum; we must open up as a society and begin the conversation at dinner tables and at home.


Leave a Reply

Sign Up For The TAC Newsletter

Catch up on the latest headlines and unique TAC stories.

    By subscribing, you agree to TAC’s terms of use and privacy policy.