After 23 years of democracy, South Africa has been slow to embrace decolonisation efforts. Last year, universities were shut down over demands that included curriculum changes and a move away from colonised education. Many of these efforts were mocked.
But the Abantu Book Festival decided to kick off the academic year with a tweet designed to restart the decoloniality conversation.
The Abantu Book Festival in December 2016 was the first in South Africa to exclusively feature black writers, who were given the space to speak about their challenges and experiences, so it knows what it's talking about.
Following it's lead, many others also took to Twitter on Wednesday to express how backwards the prescribed curriculum is for 2017 scholars.
I'm tired of how families look in school exercises. Not everyone has a Mommy, Daddy, a double story house and a dog. Diversity, please... https://t.co/Crt6s6o8Y8
— Venus HottenTHOT (@lebomashile) January 11, 2017
And I'm with them.
There should be a concerted effort to decolonise the prescribed literature not only at a tertiary level; but especially in primary and secondary schools where the foundations of learning are laid. Do we really want more children to have to unlearn eurocentricity at tertiary level, the way we did?
Prescribed school texts should be inclusive and represent all South African scholars. It should also, at least by now, showcase the wealth of talent available in African literature.
Children should be afforded the opportunity to engage in literature that is not only diverse but gives them a fair representation of their lived experience and reality. We know that there are myriad African writers to choose from, yet in 2017 getting this right is still seen as some kind of lifehack.
How is it that over three generations, school literature options are the same? Have there been no significant strides in attaining more content that affirms black reality?
It's a question many are asking.
South Africa has got to start somewhere - anywhere. But we have to question the way things have been done all along, and move towards ensuring that the education system accommodates and reflects everyone in it.