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Reflections on Coronavirus

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A short reflection from South African decolonial scholar, Prof Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni

On the 12th of March 2020, I presented a public lecture at the University of Melbourne in Australia. The public lecture was entitled "Planetary Human Entanglements and the Crisis of Living Together." The subject was not Coronavirus. It was borders, migrations, identities, belonging and citizenship in the 21st century. However, it turns out that this subject has a lot common with the subject of the Coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus pandemic has hit at the very centre of planetary human entanglements resulting in piecemeal attempts at disentanglements known as "distancing" human from each other to mitigate the spread of virus and infections. In the public lecture, I posited what I termed "the paradox of the 21st Century" which goes like this - the greater the velocity of planetary human entanglements the greater the attempts to barricade, enclose, build walled states and escalate racism, sexism, nativism and xenophobia. The border becomes our last refugee. It has to be guarded.

Alas the Coronavirus has proven that viruses know no borders. The Coronavirus proved more than anything else the emptiness of the long standing paradigm difference and opened our eyes to the reality of planetary human entanglements. Simply put what started by haunting Chinese people is haunting humanity. It is now that the call for "decolonial love" predicated on human conviviality and care for one another becomes urgent. While scientists are busy with the search for vaccine, the political leaders have to be busy rethinking the costs of maintaining asymmetrical power structures of coloniality that sustain the illusions of zones of comfort. In knowledge domain we have to wake up to the realities of epistemic crisis. In the ecological domain we must wake up to the side effects of coloniality of nature whereby the human has the illusion of master over nature. In the domain of being, we must wake up to reality that with our different shades of skins we are one people who have been given the earth to share and care for each other."

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