Reconnecting our past with the future: Mshai Mwangola at TEDxNairobi


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Contributed date

May 7, 2018 - 2:29pm

Critical Commentary

In this Tedx Talk delivered in Nairobi in 2012, Mshai Mwangola speaks about the process of gaining "cultural independence." How can we use stories to ask critical questions about African histories?

Mshai's work (as well as others) is important to include in our conversations about STS because it broadens understandings about what "science" and "technology" are/can/should be. Her use of orature and performance as process and product of meaning-making is important to break up binaries of "science" and "culture." Find below several two important quotes from this talk:

"You can sing, you can use poetry as a way of knowing. Dance as a way of knowing. So duh, we have been doing this for as long as you, in fact even longer. ... Zora Neale Hurston has argued, Africans have always theorized but in hieroglyphics which is why many people have not got it. And most of the people you have seen today are using hieroglyphics, but it is very deep intellectual work they are doing..." (13:47)

"Artists are not here just to entertain you. They are here to make you think. But we make you think in hieroglyphics because we pay you the ultimate compliment of assuming you are more intelligent than you actually think. We know you will get it. So we are not going to read you propaganda; we will encode it in a way that you can remember. My job is to figure out what are the epistemologies we are using? How many come from the past and how do we bring them into the future?" (15:08)




Cite as

TEDx Talks, "Reconnecting our past with the future: Mshai Mwangola at TEDxNairobi", contributed by Angela Okune, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 7 May 2018, accessed 16 June 2024.