Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Double Victimisation? Law, Decoloniality and Research Ethics in Post-Colonial Africa

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Double Victimisation? Law, Decoloniality and Research Ethics in Post-Colonial Africa

Article excerpt

In effectively pacified places, however, European visitors anticipated little difficulty in satisfying their need for local assistants for various types, ranging from local informants and translators to servants, since they could rely on the authority of the colonial regime-threatened or actual-to secure the personnel they required (Kuklick, 2011: 3-5)

Introduction: Research, Violence and Victimisation

The history of research since the colonial era shows that researchers have so far been complicit in some violence of colonialism and of the contemporary global coloniality of power. Researches since the colonial era tend to caricature Africans as indistinct from animals and nature (Nhemachena, 2016), and thus legitimise violence that assumes that Africans are dispensable, negligible, sub-human and non-being. Such researches legitimised the colonial violence on the African subjectivities, human dignity and African institutions, which were pulled down and rendered inside out via colonial ideological machinations. Although some researchers' work might have been genuinely aimed at helping Africans, efforts at translating African cultures resulted in the violence of mistranslation (Jeater, 2007). However, as noted by Mitra, (2008) there were also some prominent Western researchers like Bronislaw Malinowski (1967) who stated thus: "As for ethnology, I see the life of the native as utterly devoid of interest or importance, something as remote to me as the life of a dog'. In this context, a dog is regarded as a thing and not a legal subject. The 'dog' as a thing is not a bearer of legal entitlements. Researchers can therefore subject a 'dog' to any forms of experimentation without giving due regard to its entitlements.

As Pillay, (2015) and Nhemachena, (2016) note, it was such considerations of colonised people as indistinct from animals that legitimised treating them as animals and objects of resilient colonial [research] experimentations. Thus, African victims of colonial impoverishment and expropriations were further experimented on for instance using Depo-Provera and Norplant contraceptives that were administered only on Black women all throughout the diaspora (Levitt, 2015: 229-30). Depo-Provera which is associated with osteoporosis; loss of sex drive; sterility; an increased risk of breast, cervical and uterine cancer and severe depression, was not approved of in the USA in 1967 but it was nevertheless used on low income Black women [and many of them developed cancer and died] without their knowledge or consent (Levitt, ibid). So, colonised Africa has since been used by large pharmaceutical companies and colonial researchers as sites for clinical trials, and these trials were performed without informed consent; some were even forced medical procedures such as injections with smallpox, typhus, tuberculosis and forced sterilisation (The Herald, 22 January 2015; Lusane, 2005). Experiments such as these continue in post-colonial Africa where disinherited and impoverished Africans [including hundreds of hapless young children] are experimented on without informed consent, for purposes of developing drugs such as the transnational Pfizer's Trovafloxacin/Trovan (Onkota, 2014). Thus, Benson, (2013) noted that: "At least 500 children in a small village of Gouro in Chad were held hostage last December by so called "humanitarian" groups who forced them to receive the deadly ... [MenAfrivac, meningitis] vaccine, which in many of them caused severe convulsions, paralysis or worse". As recent as August 2016, six Namibian infants died after being injected with "killer-vaccines" (Haidula, 2016). Surprisingly modern medical researchers insist that vaccination is good for the infants, in particular the poor African infants (Duval et al, 2016; Loharikar et al, 2016), yet the consequences are dire to the recipients. The experimentation on Africans continues with current genetically modified food experiments that are fed on the poor people even if the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOS) are proven to be harmful in terms of causing sterility, impotence in men, cancer and other maladies (Nhemachena et al, 2016). …

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