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Sylvia Tamale, Ph.D.

Sylvia Tamale, Ph.D.

Professor of Law
First Woman Law Dean
School of Law, Makerere University

My Story, Your Inspiration

At this time in my career, I breathe, think and dream decolonization and decoloniality! I believe that Africa urgently needs a radical overhaul of both its “software” and “hardware” to align them to its needs and interests. As Africans, we persist with colonial modes of production, governance, education, religion, culture, etc., with our thinking deeply enabled by default colonial applications. Take the power-full discipline/profession of law being celebrated in these pages. Law is a discipline firmly rooted in colonialism and imperialism. Not only is the law disconnected from the majority of Africans but it is largely used as a tool to oppress, control, exploit and sustain injustice. It is part of the Western siloed system that views the world from discrete lenses, giving the impression that disciplines/professions are incongruent and self-contained, having little, if anything, to do with each other. Far from being an individuated discipline/profession, law is heavily invested in every aspect of life. On its own, law fails to capture the interconnectedness of dynamic ecosystems. Hence, a well-rounded African should possess integrated knowledge in “living” laws, mathematics, science, history, politics, economics, the arts, etc. I expound on these issues in my open access book, Decolonization and Afro-Feminism (Daraja Press, 2020).

My counsel to women in law is to educate ourselves beyond the law and to remove the colonial blinders that narrow our focus and limit our ways of thinking and being. We need to soar high into the sky in order to discern the forest from the trees, to gain a holistic understanding of the necessary direction for lifting our rich and beloved continent out of the traps of coloniality and imperialism. Viva Afrika!

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