Professor Sylvia Tamale Urges African Universities to Promote Indigenous Knowledge at Second Edition of Anton Wilhelm Amo Annual Lecture

Professor Sylvia Tamale, a recently retired Professor of Law at Makerere University, Uganda, has delivered the second Anton Wilhem Amo lecture on the theme, “Decolonizing Knowledge Production in Africa”.  

This lecture was organised by the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) in collaboration with the Department of Philosophy and Classics and the Institute of African Studies. 

Professor Sylvia Tamale stated that the perception that the Western way of thinking, of being and of doing is the default drive of the world should not be encouraged. According to her, through the power of language, discourse and tools such as mass media, education, religion and law, the preference for Western ideals is perpetuated. She added that ‘Western Imperialism’ presents the worldview of reality as the most preferable option, which is an indirect way of suppressing the other narratives of the world. 

Professor Tamale highlighted various mechanisms and technologies through which universal norms are constructed and promoted. She also shed light on the politics of knowledge and the strategies through which the imperialists have totalized global knowledge production. 

Decolonizing knowledge production challenges us to completely transcend the colonization markers of modern discourse and think outside the box freely and creatively", she explained. 

Professor Tamale encouraged African universities to valorize the knowledge of indigenous artisans such as traditional medicine practitioners, agriculturists, ecologists, musicians and other fields which were outside the neurocentric millennia as it encourages knowledge production in Africa. 

The Chairperson for the lecture, Professor Samuel Ntewusu, Director, Institute of African Studies, acknowledged the lecture as one of the major annual activities which give the opportunity to hold intellectual discussions. He explained that the lack of information on the technological developments and innovations in African knowledge systems have led to minor misapprehensions which serve the purpose of colonialism than that of science. 

Earlier, delivering the welcome address, Professor Wazi Apoh, Dean of the School of Arts, noted that the lecture, which is named after Anton Wilhelm Amo, an 18th century German-Ghanaian philosopher is designed to promote the dissemination of his ideas and enquiry of what it means to be an African in European society during his time and even in contemporary times. 

Professor Wazi Apoh expressed delight that the topic, “Decolonizing Knowledge Production in Africa”, promotes inter-racial harmony and understanding as well as interrogates and addresses questions on how the Humanities can contribute to the equalization of knowledge production. 

The Special Guest of Honour, His Excellency, Daniel Krull, German Ambassador to Ghana, in his remarks acknowledged Ghana and Germany as partners in terms of economic and scientific corporation. He hoped the lecture would provide avenues through which other networks can be created to foster the existing partnership between both countries. 

There was a question-and-answer session to enable participants fully contribute and clarify issues regarding the lecture topic.  

Present at the event were Prof. Boateng Onwona-Agyeman, Provost, College of Basic and Applied Sciences; Mrs. Emelia Agyei-Mensah, Registrar; Dr. Grace Diabah, MIASA Director, Ghana; Dr. Susann Baller, MIASA Director, Germany; Deans, Directors, Heads of Department, faculty, staff and students. 

A cross-section of participants at the lecture

The lecture was spiced with drumming and dancing by the Ghana Dance Ensemble.