Adjunct professor at UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB), Simplice Asongu. Picture: UCT
Adjunct professor at UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB), Simplice Asongu. Picture: UCT

UCT prof resigns after slavery study

By Nicola Daniels Time of article published May 16, 2019

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Cape Town - Adjunct professor at UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB), Simplice Asongu, has resigned from his position at the university.

He was requested to remove UCT’s affiliation to a controversial study called “Intelligence and Slave Exports from Africa”.

The study explored the idea that countries with higher levels of cognitive ability were more likely to experience lower levels of slave exports from Africa, probably due to comparatively better capacities to organise, co-operate, oversee and confront slave traders.

Among others, the researchers found that “the reasoning-orientation and problem-solving inclination underlying the IQ can be leveraged to avoid capture during the slave trade” and “it is conceivable that African cognitive ability led to slave exports”.

The authors also draw an example from the first Maroon war in Jamaica in 1725 as a good illustration of the relevance of intelligence in slave trade, “because slaves that were intelligent enough to escape and live autonomously in the mountains did so essentially because they thought they could live independently without masters”.

Black Academic Caucus member, Professor Adam Haupt, said the study was much like the Stellenbosch University article about “coloured women”, in that the key premise relied on “the flawed belief that race is a stable, natural scientific category and that it is not socially and politically constructed that serves very narrow economic and ideological ends”.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the institution requested the adjunct professor involved in the study to remove his affiliation to the university in the article in question.

“The study had not been submitted to the ethics committee of the Graduate School of Business and no other members of the school were involved in the research.

“The adjunct professor has since written to the journal withdrawing his relationship with UCT.

“UCT also notes that the academic has submitted his resignation to the GSB,” Moholola said.

Asongu did not respond to questions by time of going to print.

Moholola said the study did not go through ethical clearance which was not unusual for any research by adjunct professors as they are not full-time members of staff.

“The university views any research based on or proposing racial stereotypes as being contradictory to the university’s academic values and standards of scholarship.

“UCT rejects the assumptions of the paper and this line of research as bad science. It is in opposition to our commitment to academic excellence and an inclusive community,” Moholola said.


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