In this introductory chapter, the question is asked: Why is an African philosophy of higher education significant? Such a philosophy of higher education is geared towards cultivating democratic iterations, co-belonging, and critique within human encounters. Together, these actions should enhance intellectual activism within and beyond the encounters. Such a philosophy of higher education is constituted by an act of reflexivity according to which both autonomous and communal freedoms, cosmopolitanism living, and caring with others (ubuntu) can be rhythmically practised. Without invoking ideas pertaining to democratic iterations, co-belonging, and critique, the very notion of an African philosophy of higher education would not be possible. It is argued that what makes such a philosophy of higher education realisable is that practices ought to be based on iterations, co-belonging, and critique. These actions provide an African philosophy of higher education its distinctiveness. If intellectual activism were not to become a major act of resistance on the basis of which educational, political, and societal dystopias can be undermined, such a philosophy of higher education would not have a real purpose. What makes an African philosophy of higher education an intellectually activist endeavour is its concern to be oppositional to constraints in and about higher education. Invariably, the quest for ubuntu as a rhythmic act of caring with others should emanate from such a philosophical engagement. This makes an African philosophy of higher education what it is and can become.
In this chapter, the cultivation of an African philosophy of higher education is addressed more conceptually concerning claims iterations, co-belonging, critique, reflexivity, and intellectual activism. Firstly, the notion of the African philosophy of education is examined along the afore-mentioned lines; secondly, it is elucidated how such a philosophy of education can advance higher pedagogy concerning teaching and learning. Thirdly, it is shown how an African philosophy of higher education is inextricably connected to the enhancement of intellectual, social and political activism, particularly how it intertwines with notions of equality, equity, freedom and justice within higher education. Thus, a philosophy of higher education is genuine and enframes higher education as a pedagogical space for resistance, critique, deliberative iterations, autonomy, and intellectual activism. Put differently, an African philosophy of higher education is not only concerned with thinking and justification but expands into notions of democratic engagement, citizenship, and activism. When the latter is present, African philosophy of higher education has a real chance of manifesting ubiquitously in higher pedagogical actions, mostly teaching and learning.
Higher education in Africa seemed to have been biased towards Eurocentricism that often misrecognises legitimate knowledge claims in and about transformative change in the sector. Literature on higher education studies is replete with claims about how a primary focus on only Eurocentric knowledge (re)constructions seems to undermine forms of authentic knowledges. Like many universities on the African continent, allegiance to the hegemonic knowledge interests of a Global North seems to undermine attempts on the part of higher education institutions to cultivate more democratically inclusive knowledge spaces. There seems to be some misunderstanding of the (ir)relevance of knowledge produced in the north for communities in the south as if such forms of knowledge production invariably have a universalist potential. Consequently, legitimate transformative initiatives in the forms of decolonisation and decoloniality commensurate with post-humanist inquiry seem to remain disentangled from genuine epistemological actions to produce a New African University. The argument of this contribution is constituted by the pursuit of an autonomous African university enframed by virtues of objective freedom, just action and moral responsibility. In this way, the possibility that a New African University will manifest along a post-humanist discourse of higher education seems highly likely. Therefore, it is argued that a notion of entanglement that conceptually and pragmatically connects the imaginary of an African university with-in its higher education priorities seems to be a defensible act of higher education transformation. Hence, bringing decolonisation, decoloniality and post-humanism into conversation with justice in and about higher education seems to be apt and constructive for the enhancement of legitimate knowledge claims.