Interrogating a cosmopolitanism of African higher education

  • C.H. Manthalu Chancellor's College, University of Malaw
  • Y. Waghid Stellenbosch University


The immensity and inevitability of global interconnectedness have necessitated higher education to be cosmopolitan in its epistemological, and skills and attitudes development scope. Much has been written about the urgency, necessity and proposed modes of cosmopolitan higher education in Africa responsive to modern day demands and challenges. However, there is an outstanding need to interrogate the ontological assumptions and subsequent normative implications of the cosmopolitanism that informs African higher education. This paper argues that the globally predominant cosmopolitanism that also informs and is being pursued by African higher education is normatively problematic because it is exclusively grounded only in commonalities of the diverse people of the world, regarding their individuating differences as morally arbitrary and inhibitive of a realisation of cosmopolitan aspirations. Using Seyla Benhabib’s (1992) difference-grounded moral universalism, the paper argues that difference is constitutive of being a concrete individual or collectivity. As such African higher education ought to, as a matter of normative necessity, centre the subjectivities of the African experience. The central claims of this paper have implications on endeavors of re-imagining curriculum design, curriculum content selection and pedagogy in African higher education.


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Author Biographies

C.H. Manthalu, Chancellor's College, University of Malaw


Chikumbutso Herbert Manthalu is a lecturer of philosophy of education at Chancellor's College, University of Malawi. He is co-editor with Yusef Waghid of 'Decolonisation and decoloniality of education in Africa' (New York: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2019).



Y. Waghid, Stellenbosch University

Yusef Waghid is author of 'Towards a philosophy of caring in higher education' (London: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2019); and co-editor with Yusef Waghid of 'Decolonisation and decoloniality of education in Africa' (New York: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2019).




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How to Cite
Manthalu, C.H., and Y. Waghid. 2019. “Interrogating a Cosmopolitanism of African Higher Education”. South African Journal of Higher Education 33 (2), 1-15.
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