“Coloniality is far from over, it is all over”

Professor Walter Mignolo had a talk at Wiser on Spirit Return to the East: The Racial Distribution of Capital and Knowledge. Photo:Ray Mahlaka

Professor Walter Mignolo talked at Wiser on ‘Spirit Return to the East: The Racial Distribution of Capital and Knowledge’. Photo:Ray Mahlaka

It is the first time in 500 years that capital and power are in the hands of people of colour, according to Professor Walter Mignolo.

“BRICS, of which South Africa is a member is an example of this,” he said.

Prof Mignolo was speaking at WISER yesterday at a seminar that forms part of his four that he is to present at Wits.

Even though there is a redistribution of wealth along the lines of colour, Minolo maintained that coloniality  and the “colonial wound” still existed.

Coloniality status quo

Coloniality is far from over according to Mignolo.

“It continues whenever anyone anywhere in the world walks down a street and sees a billboard on the modern cathedral that is a shopping mall and sees in that conjunction of power, wealth and beauty an image of desire,” he said quoting from a graduate student report.

Mignolo argued that coloniality, the darker side of modernity,  should be considered as perhaps the most powerful set of ideas and forces in the world.

“It happens these days not by the strength of arms or the power of states, but by the captivation of the eyes, the training of the taste … that we all learn everywhere without even knowing it,” he argues.


 Prof Mignolo told the audience that Eurocentrism is not a geographical issue but rather a political one.

He urged that it was necessary and urgent for non European states to move away  and “delink” from Eurocentrism.

Mignolo concluded by saying that this “delink” from the  colonial matrix of power should be motivated by the need for “human dignity and the celebration of life instead of development and economic growth.”

He argued that it is this that will ultimatly heal the “colonial wound”.

 Means versus ends

Democracy and socialism are two western concepts and options according to Mignolo. “They are means, not ends”.

That is to say, there are other options to imagine and build just, harmonic societies and other forms of governance.

He proposed that ideal would be for “ends” to include: equitable and cooperative societies that live in “plentitude”.

Life beyond the west

Mignolo shared that it is apparent and obvious that there is potential power beyond Europe and the USA, and that global futures would no longer be decided and managed by Western actors and institutions.

“This is true as the world population is in reaching 7 billion. The US and EU (27 states) has a population of 1 billion. The rest of the world has a population of 6 billion.”

The final seminar will be held on the August 14.