Efforts to decolonise societies, and in particular the field of higher education in South Africa, have frequently been framed in terms of “dismantling” strategies. This article examines the ethico-cultural assumptions implicit in this idea and shows that it derives from a realism of what Michael Karlberg (Beyond the Culture of Contest. Oxford: George Ronald, 2004) calls “normative adversarialism”, where power is negotiated conflictually and contests, struggles, and protests are seen as natural and inevitable strategies of social organisation. Such approaches are unattractive, as they effectively deepen coloniality rather than unravelling it. The African moral philosophy of ubuntu provides a very different realism, where processes of decolonisation can be framed as evolutionary, developmental, and integrative. Through the lens of ubuntu, decolonisation can be reimagined as a constructive process of resilience that significantly transcends coloniality. As such, this article also provides a non-exhaustive discourse analysis of how and to what end some decolonisation debates shape and are informed by various understandings of power.