Decolonial Thoughts part 2
We’re back with part two of our Decolonial Thoughts deep dive. This time we chatted with Toluse Delano and Theo Wellington as the creative duo behind the impressive media house.
Decolonial Thoughts is a space to be challenged, discover new meaning, and for many, to feel a sense of familiarity and community. The site features many forms of content, such as book and film reviews, interviews, and fictional pieces, all of which explore different voices and cultural questions. Readers also have the chance to submit their own work, allowing the space to become a conversation about identity and allowing people to get a glimpse of the world through a different lens. Since its creation the platform has been praised for its thought-provoking ideas and continues to expand, with their highly requested podcast being released later this year.
What is Decolonial Thoughts?
Decolonial Thoughts is a media house centring marginalised voices, stories and perspectives. We produce creative content such as short films, interviews, and articles that challenge the colonial logic of humanity, space, time and labour, which still dictate how the world works. We want to connect, educate, uplift and encourage people to see alternative versions of the world. We focus on issues such as climate change, gender and sex, and capitalism. For us, it is about building a movement that can be felt culturally. It goes beyond focusing on the bad or holding on to the past, but instead examines how the past is responsible for our current realities and how we can learn from that to build a better future.
Where did you meet and how did the idea of Decolonial Thoughts come about?
We met in our first year of university. We were both studying law and quickly bonded over whiteness in the institution and the pressures to conform. In our final year, we both studied a module, Law and Race, and it voiced our concerns and fears about the law. We learned about issues like globalisation, race, gender and class, and realised that that’s what we were really interested in.
Toluse: Last year I had the idea of creating a blog page that was focused on talking about African issues and history [now Decolonial Thoughts] as a hobby, and asked Theo if he was interested in starting it with me. We had always wanted an avenue to talk more about current global issues whilst offering radical solutions, we realised we could build something real, and that’s how DT came about.
How is Decolonial Thoughts relevant?
Decolonial Thoughts is more relevant than ever, as we are currently seeing the rights of women, queer and black working-class people be stripped away. Oppressive systems that perpetuate harm still exist and not enough is being done to challenge them – this, is where DT comes in. We want to educate people using creative content that addresses these issues or offers alternative and radical solutions. Learning about systems that harm you and creating a network to challenge that will always be relevant. Change only truly comes when people’s minds change as well.
What sort of approach do you take in educating people?
Figuring out how best to get a message across has been difficult. We realised that the best approach is to make the content as relatable as possible. Breaking down these concepts into how it affects real people has been key. We create informative posts on Instagram as a way to bring attention to a topic. We also have a feature series section on our website where we give an in-depth exploration of certain topics and encourage submissions – we want to hear from other people and show that there are a lot of people out there who also have something to say. We are launching a podcast soon as this is something people have requested.
Please could describe your experience in finding your voice – what does the platform mean to you?
Finding our voice has been a really challenging but enjoyable experience. It is particularly hard because there are so many topics and experiences that we want to cover and figuring out the best way to do this has been challenging. When you say decolonial, that covers so much! It consists of not only so many topics and experiences but different angles as well. We are still finding our voice, but we’ve enjoyed the process so far.
We think that our unique experiences as Africans but also as minorities in western countries have given us a different perspective on oppressive structures, their interconnectedness and the importance of unity in the fight against them. We are keen to bring on as many diverse voices and perspectives as possible. We don’t want it to be just us talking to the world. A platform is a place where people are allowed to be free and talk about issues that are most important to them and the world they want to live in.
Toluse and I briefly spoke about how the platform is not only a place to discuss colonial traditions but a place to build a network of like-minded individuals doing inspiring things. What do you hope to achieve by including these kinds of discussions?
We want to build a network of people who challenge the norm and are interested in making the world better. It’s about getting people excited about individuals who are doing decolonial work— work that challenges the status-quo (euro-centric world order) and offers alternative ways of thinking about the world. Decolonial work does not always have to be this far-fetched utopian ideal. We can begin the work now. It can be small; it starts with questioning and challenging. If you find yourself questioning Western hegemonies in any form, be it misogyny, racism, or classism, you have begun the decolonial work. It is about decentring the Western gaze.
In your experience, how has awareness of a colonialist presence changed over time? To what extent is this change visible?
There has definitely been an increase in attention given to the continued role colonisation plays in our lives, with movements like #decolonisemycurriculum and the issue of teaching CRT (Critical Race Theory) in schools in the US. However, while awareness has increased, decolonisation has become a buzzword and is often confused with inclusion and representation. Decolonisation should be about acknowledging the fact that the world we live in now, and its institutions are still based on colonial ideas and structures. From there we can begin discussions on dismantling these institutions. So, whilst awareness of colonialist presence has increased over time, what that fully entails and how it should be addressed is still lacking.
What are your future goals for Decolonial Thoughts?
Right now we are working to create and build a strong network of like-minded creatives we can work with. This is important to us because being decolonial, should not only exist in the world of academia. De-colonialism is practical, and it can happen now. By building a strong network of decolonial thinkers (be it artists, painters, writers, philosophers, doctors, engineers, lawyers) we can push the doctrine into reality. We aspire to be part of the culture, creating discussions, shaking tables and building new ones. It is also important because this is not a movement we can win by ourselves, everyone must be involved in dismantling colonial systems.
Our ultimate goal, however, would be for DT to stand on its own two feet as a major media powerhouse challenging the status quo and our current colonial realities. We are at crossroads on so many issues at the moment, with many battle cries being heard. Our hope is that we step up, challenge, and dare people to dream about a better world for ourselves, for our environment, and for our future.
Do you have any advice for people who want to learn more?
Read more, listen to a diverse range of perspectives and follow us on Decolonial Thoughts at @decolonialthoughts!
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