Bringing down the ivory tower: Academic activism for 21st

After blazing a trail in the first two decades of Africa’s independence, the continent’s brain trust seems to have gone on a hiatus after this period. This is the contention of this paper, which seeks to challenge the “ivory tower” mentality that seems to typify most of Africa’s intelligentsia in the 21st Century. Its main argument is that Africa’s intelligentsia is not playing its critical role in Africa, that is, of being change agents. In this regard, the paper argues that the intelligentsia needs to be a group of activists and not conformists, as seems to be the case now. Arguably, Africa’s intelligentsia did not rise to the occasion, in the last two decades, to practically and effectively change the deplorable socio-economic and political conditions on the continent. Even now, it has not robustly challenged the oppressive and dictatorial political systems on the continent as well. Rather, it seems to be more preoccupied with esoteric endeavours. The intelligentsia’s non-engagement in critical matters of democracy and social advancement on the continent has in fact made it complicit to misrule, tyranny and political myopia in Africa. The paper advances the idea of academic activism which will fill the void that is, to the most, occupied by reactionary and retrogressive forces in Africa.


Ndangwa Noyoo . University of Johannesburg .

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