On 18 August 2020 the African Leadership Centre (ALC) held its inaugural Peter Da Costa Memorial Lecture, on the first anniversary of his passing. Dr Peter Kofi Aboagye Da Costa was Vice-Chair of the African Leadership Centre as well as a mentor at the Centre.
The lecture and the sincere tributes that followed were marked by reverence for a man who championed African knowledge transfer and communication both within Africa and the United Kingdom.
Professor Funmi Olonisakin, the ALC’s Founding Director, Vice President & Vice-Principal International of King’s delivered the keynote address.
“He had a consciousness about the politics of knowledge, which relegates Africa to the periphery of global power”, she said. “Today’s call for the decolonisation of knowledge... is precisely what Peter’s philosophy … sought to address.”
Dr Da Costa’s knowledge revolution sought to dismantle the pre-existing politics of knowledge in several ways.
Professor Olonisakin observed that “Many in our generation, and in the generation right after us are trapped by a mindset that sees everything western as holding more validity than our own lived realities and knowledges.”
Da Costa wanted to disrupt this pattern of thought, promoting Africa’s own knowledge systems and emphasising the importance of an inclusive, de-colonised approach to researching and recording knowledge about Africa.
Described in his own words, “I always felt instinctively that it is an unequal world where science is accepted if it comes from certain parts of the world, but that everyone else, including people from where I come, are recipients of certain types of knowledge and not really actors in actually shaping it.”
Seeking to shape knowledge about Africa on Africa’s terms, Dr Da Costa encouraged and developed young scholars to do the same.
Tributes from participants around the world painted a picture of a hugely knowledgeable yet approachable teacher, wholly committed to those fortunate to find themselves under his mentorship.
The Peter Da Costa Memorial Lecture will continue to be held every June on an annual basis, coinciding with the anniversary of the ALC’s founding.
Watch the full recorded event below, or read Professor Olonisakin’s transcribed lecture: Peter Kofi Da Costa’s Leadership of Africa’s Knowledge Revolution from the Side-lines