“Since colonial times Europeans have perceived most of the world as open to conquest, control and domination. The population of the Third World has been perceived as weak or vicious, and as in need of being ‘civilized’,” wrote scholar Titus Pop in an interesting piece titled From Eurocentrism to Hibridity or from Singularity to Plurality.
He defines Eurocentrism as “the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing emphasis on European (and, generally, Western) concerns, culture and values at the expense of those of other cultures”.
Eurocentrism is very common when we let Europeans tell our stories. The history that is taught even in our own schools portrays Europeans as conquerors, explorers and saviours who came to Africa, the dark continent, whose Godless people were in desperate need of civilisation.
The education itself is not ours. Missionary Emory Ross famously claimed: “Thousands of Africans want education more than anything else, even more than immediate wealth. Someone has said Africans are education-mad.”
It is true! Africans are indeed education-mad, but the education they seek is not theirs.
“The university in South Africa in particular and in Africa in general, is a legitimate site of struggle as it is a power structure that underpins the Euro-North American-centric modern world system and its shifting global orders,” wrote our own Professor Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni.
Outside of education, the global film industry has been used to further Western domination. In Hollywood films, Africans are naïve victims fighting each other as child soldiers while Americans are saviours, heroes ever-willing to risk life and limb in the jungles of the dark continent.
This is why we support President Mnangagwa’s call for players in the film industry to use their creative productions to tell the African story, the Zimbabwean story, our story.
Officially launching the inaugural Varsity Film Expo at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo, President Mnangagwa urged stakeholders in the sector to utilise their creative voices and imaging skills, to tell the Zimbabwean story.
“I, thus, challenge stakeholders in the sector to use their various fortes to promote our rich culture, heritage and vision for the future by telling our own story, through our own perspectives, with our own voices and images,” he said. “The film industry must further help to convey the true story of our great mother country by projecting a positive image,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Integrity must remain the sacred responsibility of your field. To this end, avoid the easy way out and do not give up your chosen genres and narratives or betray acting in the national interest to satisfy project or film financiers.
“Remain emboldened by the fact that you are competent and well able to help shape and influence the future of our great mother country.”
The inaugural Varsity Film Expo must serve as a launchpad for Zimbabwean universities to challenge the global order. Eventually, we must rid ourselves of Eurocentric education that is meant to keep Africans as slaves and Europeans as the masters.
Universities must take up the President’s call and tell the authentic Zimbabwean story.