“Establish the Department of Witchcraft,” Legendary Historian Toyin Falola Tells UNILAG

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By Temiloluwa Erinle

Renowned historian Professor Toyin Falola has called for a radical transformation of African higher education to break free from its colonial shackles and drive transformational development such as the “Department of Witchcraft.”

While at the 54th convocation lecture at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) on Monday, January 15, Falola, who holds the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin, titled his address “Decolonizing African Higher Education for Transformational Development.”

He underscored the profound impact of education on shaping individual identity and cultural outlook, highlighting the need for educational narratives that empower, not distort, indigenous knowledge and values.

“The education we receive in Nigerian institutions,” Falola argued, “bears the imprint of colonial legacies that continue to suppress the expression of African identities and stifle academic originality and self-confidence.”

Professor Falola looking at his portrait gift after the lecture. Source: Temiloluwa Erinle 

He emphasized the urgent need to “decolonize the curriculum,” and advocated for a shift towards an African-centered approach to teaching politics, exploring the political thought and strategies of historical African leaders and scholars.

“One particularly transformative step,” Falola added, “would be establishing a Department of Witchcraft, as some African universities have already done.”

Meanwhile, while acknowledging that past decolonization efforts have fallen short, Falola expressed optimism that the current generation can continue this vital process.

“Let us embark on a gradual decolonization of our higher education system,” he urged, “so that it can truly serve as a springboard for Africa’s development and liberation.”

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