Top Honours for UKZN Philosopher
Honorary Associate Professor within UKZN’s School of Social Sciences, Professor Mabogo More, is the co-recipient of the 2015 Frantz Fanon Lifetime Achievement award from the Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA) in recognition of his contribution to philosophical thought and literature.
The Frantz Fanon Prize recognises excellence in scholarship that advances Caribbean philosophy and Africana-humanist thought in the Fanonian tradition.
More said: ‘I am truly honoured to be named a recipient of the Frantz Fanon Lifetime Achievement Award for 2015, especially from such a prestigious philosophical association as the Caribbean Philosophical Association which at its inaugural conference in Barbados gave me the honour of being its first keynote speaker.
‘My thanks to the CPA and to the many students throughout my 40 years of teaching philosophy in a philosophically hostile world; those students who in their belief in my philosophical ability not only gave me strength to go on but also refuted the claim that philosophy is not for Blacks.
‘In particular, I would like to thank those students at the former University of Durban-Westville and UKZN who took my classes on African Political Thought, Western Political Philosophy and Political Philosophy in Context. Lastly, thanks to the young lecturers and students at UKZN with whom I shared endless hours in my office discussing complex philosophical issues.’
CPA President Dr Jane Anna Gordon said: ‘During the days when philosophy and political theory in the South African academy were dominated by professors who simply imitated scholastic work celebrated in the Global North, More was studying, developing, and nurturing generations of students also to understand and contribute to a distinctively South African brand of emancipatory thought.
‘His decades-long efforts could not more fully exemplify what the Caribbean Philosophical Association as an organisation cherishes. It is our honor to offer him this long overdue recognition.’
The award committee Chairperson, Professor Lewis R Gordon added: ‘There is no academic or public intellectual in philosophical and political work short of Steve Bantu Biko who has had more of an impact on generations of Black intellectuals in South Africa than More. One of the consequences of his work is that the dominant universities such as the University of Cape Town, the University of the Witswaterstand, and Stellenbosch have invested themselves in his invisibility. That is one reason why his name on the internet produces his writings instead of articles on him.’
Professor Rozena Maart, Director for UKZN’s Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity (ccrri) and a member of the CPA, further congratulated More. ‘He has done the University proud as well as his country, his students, friends, colleagues and comrades, because he never stopped doing what he loves doing, which was sometimes difficult because he wrote and taught philosophy born of struggle, philosophy born of the relationship of the dialectic, and taught philosophy that took students to a different level of recognition of their existentialist identities ... he taught them philosophies that matter,’ said Maart.
More shares the award with another scholar of Afro-Caribbean, Chinese, and Marxist thought, Dr Grace Lee Boggs, a 99-year-old Philosopher and activist from Detroit.
The award, which consists of a plaque acknowledging his achievement, will be handed over at a special session with the other winners at the international conference of the Caribbean Philosophical Association from 18-21 June in Mexico. More will also become a full voting member of the Frantz Fanon Committee where he will be consulted to assess future nominees for this award.
* Originally from Benoni in Gauteng, More became a member of South African society as a fighter living in the Bantustans. Despite the many obstacles he faced, he managed to study for his Masters degree in Philosophy at the University of Indiana and had the opportunity to pursue his doctorate in the United States.
More returned to South Africa to work with generations of young Black intellectuals in the Bantustans, in Soweto, and in Durban. While pursuing doctoral study at the University of Cape Town, he found the environment in the Philosophy department racially untenable. He eventually completed his doctorate at the University of South Africa with a dissertation bringing together Africana existential phenomenology and European existentialism on the philosophical study of racism. He was constantly attacked, unfairly treated, but he pressed on.
His major contributions are in the study of Black Exstentialism, Black Consciousness, philosophies of race and racism, uBuntu, Biko, Fanon, Noël Manganyi, and Jean-Paul Sartre.