The Mis-Education of the African People (2)

j. Due to educational systems that deny and reject African existence, an increasing number of black people are bleaching their skins in order to become lighter. Women lead the men in bleaching their skins but the men are gradually catching up in the rush to be lighter. Nigeria, due to its large population, seems to lead the black world in skin bleaching, as indicated by the article Nigeria as the world capital of skin bleaching, published in Punch of March 26, 2014. Blacks in South Africa, the United States, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jamaica, and Haiti follow in haste. Congolese musicians seemed particularly attracted to the notion of bleaching their skins and coloring their hair. This probably contributed to the fact that some musicians and dancers associated with the FM Academia branch of Congo music in Tanzania appeared to have bleached their skins. Increasingly, Jamaican musicians are following suit even though in the past, musical groups like the Black Uhuru, Burning Spear and others, tended to lead the black world in decrying skin bleaching. If the education that African people receive is culturally and racially justifiable, why would many educated African people try so hard to bleach their skins? Thus, an increasing number of those who bleach their skins are displaying skin tones described by the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti as “Yellow Fever”. A very noticeable case of an individual who engaged in skin bleaching is Adidja Palmer, otherwise known as Vvbz Kartel. Similarly, many African music videos are characterized by musicians and dancers who bleached so much so that they appeared ghostly due to too much yellow- fevering effect of the bleaching.

k. Due to the mis-education of the African people, it seems that an increasing number of young black male musicians are either intentionally or unintentionally promoting the view that light skin is most preferable or desirable by excessively filling their music videos with female dancers that are either Caucasians or light-skinned blacks. Dany Engobo of the Democratic Republic of the Congo seems to lead the pack of black musicians who consciously fill their music videos with light-skinned women. Similarly, most of l the women who dance for Koffi Olumide are light-skinned. African-American, Jamaican, Haitian, and black musicians in Europe are catching up with the craze. This is why many dance-hall reggae, Kompa and rap music videos are filled with Hispanic-looking kind of women. Nigerian, Congolese, Ghanaian, Tanzanian, South African, Ugandan, and other musicians are joining the bandwagon. Either these musicians are not aware of the tremendous psychological damage they are inflicting upon black women or they are driven excessively to globalize their music in order to make money, hence, do not care about the harm they are causing.

By excessively filling their music videos with light-skinned women, black male musicians are psychologically rejecting themselves for being black. At the same time, they are telling darker skinned black women that they are not beautiful because they are dark in shade. It is the perception created by the excessive featuring of light-skinned women that is forcing many young black women to lighten their skin through bleaching. The question that black male musicians need to answer is whether they are conscious of the psychological and social destruction they are inflicting upon their sisters and the black world generally?

l. A substantial number of black women in the world now wear synthetic hair. The purpose is to create an illusion of having long wavy hair. The situation is getting so bad that even young black girls, as young as four, are being introduced to the notion that being beautiful means wearing wavy synthetic hair. The problem is that this kind of beautification is an expensive financial joke. Money that would have been saved or invested are used for momentary beautification purposes. Every two or three weeks, many black women go to the hair saloon to order or purchase a new hair look. To create the caucasianized look, hair products with all kinds of chemicals are sprayed on the head. Some of these chemical products contain harmful agents, yet, they are being consumed by black women all over the world. It seems that only a tiny minority of black women today wear their natural hair. This indicates that the education that they received did not boost their psychological self-image.

m. It appears that youthful black music videos tend to diminish the value of black women. A large proportion of popular youthful black music videos, whether from Haiti, Jamaica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, France, Trinidad and Tobago, etc., tend to demean women by portraying them as good-for-nothing sex toys with no brains. Unfortunately, many young women who appear in the music videos seem delighted for being featured in the videos, to the extent that they do not care about how they are being portrayed. Some do not mind even appearing almost nude, all in the name of being called music video dancers.

n. Some black musicians, especially in the United States and Jamaica, have decided to be sexually explicit in their lyrics by singing and devaluing women. In particular, some gangsta (gangster) rap and dancehall reggae musicians are very pornographic in singing about women sexual parts. Surprisingly, an increasing number of female musicians too, especially from Jamaica, are joining the males to do the same.

o. Due to the mis-education of the African people, many young people are increasingly eating eye-catching industrially packaged sugary foods. They do not seem to realize that they are inviting serious medical problems by eating assorted candies, packaged foods with artificial colors and chemicals and drinking soft drinks that are loaded with sugar. They are taking this dangerous journey because the educational systems did not equip them with the fact that the best diet for the body is natural foods. Many of them assume that eating packaged industrial foods is a sign of modernity and sophistication. Unfortunately, they are inviting diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and other related medical problems. An increasing number of black people are now suffering from these diseases.

p. Even the booming African film industry is being unduly influenced by cultural tendencies far removed from the African cultural world. Thus, mimicry seems to be the name of the game. As a result, the Nigerian and Ghanaian movie industries are known as Nollyood and Gollywood respectively. By using these strange names that have no resemblance to any place in Nigeria and Ghana, the leaders of the movie industry in both countries are telling the entire world that the only way they can succeed is to play second fiddle to Hollywood in the United States. By implication, they are saying that they can never do better than Hollywood, hence, must tack along. They are also saying that they are inferior to those in Hollywood. What is Nollywood? What is Gollywood? Why can’t African movie tycoons aspire to greater heights instead of limiting themselves by mimicking Hollywood?

In fact, in order to imitate Hollywood, some African (both in the continent and in the diaspora) actors and actresses are increasingly behaving recklessly by excessively consuming mind-altering substances and unnecessarily getting into trouble, in the name of being “celebrities”.

2. The current educational systems perpetuate amoral behavior and practices that foster undue materialism, consumerism and corruption.

Traditionally, African people are culturally, psychologically and spiritually socialized to embrace and reinforce certain moral and ethical principles, standards and practices. This is why they are very spiritual in nature. African spirituality can be attested to by the fact that whether one attends a black religious service in Brazil or Senegal or Burkina Faso

or Jamaica or Martinique or Haiti or in the United States or Britain or France, the service is always characterized by a very high dose of spirituality. This is in contrast to a typical European/ Western church where the level of spirituality is curtailed by the deliberate and methodical manner in which church service is performed. This means that culturally, in the African world, faith and reason are inseparable. Consequently, knowledge in the African world requires a mastery of both physical and non-physical (metaphysical) aspects of nature or reality. Unfortunately, the formal educational systems that African people, both in the continent and in the Diaspora, are made to receive, separate both components and then relegates the faith aspect of knowledge to a level of irrelevance while overwhelmingly reinforcing reason. Unfortunately, the reason part of knowledge is woefully lacking in moral and ethical considerations. There are many instances to cite to demonstrate the point being raised here.

a. The education that African people are compelled to consume is largely based on secular humanism. As stated earlier, secular humanism focuses entirely on human reason. Reason tends to foster undue concentration on the self rather than on the group. This is contrary to the African world view which focuses on the group rather than on the self. It is not surprising that a vast majority of the African people that engage in the embezzlement of public funds are formally educated. Perhaps, the education they received psychologically prepared them to steal from the public purse and enrich themselves at the expense of the masses.

b. Due to the influence of secular humanism, knowledge is split into two, namely, faith and reason. The faith part of knowledge is rejected by secular humanists because it calls for the recognition of a higher or a final authority. On the other hand, reason is accepted as the only means to study and acquire knowledge. As a results, all students who go through the formal education system are propagandized to accept the view that the only way to study and understand any phenomenon is through reason and not faith. This is contrary to the African concept of knowledge. In traditional African cultures, knowledge comprises of both tangible and intangible aspects. These can also be regarded as physical and non-physical components of knowledge. Consequently, true or comprehensive knowledge, in the African sense, implies an understanding of the physical and metaphysical knowledge of nature. This is why Africans are educated traditionally from childhood to embrace both physical and spiritual knowledge. This accounted for why the Ancient Egyptians had the mystery temples.

c. Education based purely on reason tends to nullify the importance of ethical and moral considerations in the decision making process. Thus, reason increasingly justifies the need for the individual to make decisions that is intended purely to satisfy the self, with almost total disregard for ethical and moral consequences for the larger society. This is contrary to the African cultural perspective which requires the individual to have an understanding of both the practical and moral consequences of his/her intended actions. The African ethical and moral orientation is evidenced by the fact that African languages and dialects are filled with parables, idioms and figures of speech which encourage the individual to think deeply about the ethical and moral consequences of his/her intended actions. African cultures are also characterized by certain ethical and moral norms that are known as “sacred laws”. The sacred laws cannot be violated. Those who violate them are viewed as having committed abominations or taboos. It could be said that due to lack of strong ethical and moral considerations in the secularized educational systems imported from Europe/West, many educated Africans, both in the continent and in the diaspora, especially public officials, have no ethical concern for their actions. The amorality enables them to lie, cheat, manipulate, and steal public funds with impunity. It also allows many political and military leaders to violate constitutional rights of their citizens in an effort to perpetuate themselves in power with little or no regard for the consequences of their actions.

d. Due to the rejection of faith, formal education takes away the ability of the individual to think ethically and morally and to make decisions that do not threaten social equilibrium. Secular humanism reinforces individualism since the individual is expected to make decisions that maximizes self-interest. The maximization of self-interest negatively affects the ability of many public officials and contractors in Africa and in the diaspora (African-America, Jamaica, Bahamas, Haiti, Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, etc.) to make decisions that benefit the whole society.

The emphasis on self-interest is quite contrary to the traditional African communal system. In traditional African cultures, communal interest is given a higher preference over individual interest. This allows everyone in the community, irrespective of education, wealth and political standing, to benefit from the public wealth.

d. The need to make rational decisions in order to maximize self-interest leads to greed, materialism and unnecessary consumption. As can be seen, since almost all blacks are compelled to receive education based on the secular-humanistic model, an increasing number of educated African people are focused on self-aggrandizement. This is why embezzlement of public funds runs rampant throughout the African continent and in some parts of the African Diaspora. Thus, in Nigeria, a considerable number of the wealthy in society acquired their wealth through outright embezzlement of public funds.

e. Due to mis-education, most African financial resources are stolen and deposited in foreign (mostly Western) banks by high government officials, their associates and contractors. This is why Black Africa remains poor even though the continent is rich in natural resources. If not for mis-education, why would the most educated steal their countries funds, deprive their own citizens, and enable others to use their stolen wealth to build their own countries while depriving African people of the funds?

e. Due to an amoral educational system, consumerism is running wild in societies associated with African people. It is buy, buy, and buy some more mentality that has been instilled. Whether it is in Nigeria or Kenya or Senegal or Gabon or Jamaica or Haiti or Britain or the U.S. or Trinidad and Tobago, the message is buy and buy some more. Thus, black people have become the premier consumers of other people’s products. Instead of tightening the belt, saving and producing, there is proclivity towards consuming. This accounts for why most African and Caribbean countries continue to export raw materials instead of turning those materials into finished goods through strategic industrialization of their economies.

f. Thus, skin bleaching creams and synthetic hair have become major financial earners for countries that produce these products and black people are buying them as if there is no tomorrow. Likewise, blacks want to drive the most expensive cars and drink the most expensive alcoholic beverages that are produced by others. There was a time, many Francophone Africans, particularly the Gabonese, patronized water imported from France. Many Africans, particularly those in the continent, prefer to buy their clothes in the boutiques, rather than in the popular common stores. Many of those who buy from the boutiques associate such behavior with a higher social status. Due to buy, buy and buy some more, some Nigerians are no longer contented with having expensive castle-like homes and cars, they are now buying private jets.

3. As long as African people continue to maintain and perpetuate existing educational systems, there would never be stability and techno

logical progress in the continent and in the African diaspora.

a. As stated earlier, the secularized approach is quite contrary to the African cultural world view because it minimizes the significance of a higher authority, thereby, undercutting moral and ethical considerations in the decision-making process.

b. It undercuts the African culture, thereby, devaluing African perspectives in education. This is why many educated African people are not familiar with their own cultures. This is why many educated Africans tend to be more comfortable dwelling in cultures of other societies instead of their own. Dr. Woodson, writing in the early part of the twentieth century noted:

For the arduous task of serving a race thus handicapped, however, the Negro graduate has had little or no training at all. The people whom he has been ordered to serve have been belittled by his teachers to the extent that he can hardly find delight in undertaking what his education has led him to
think is impossible (Mis-education of the Negro, p. 6)

The devaluation of African cultures is done on daily basis. Quite often, whenever two or more Nigerians or Kenyans or Ivorians or Gabonese or Tanzanians meet and discuss, if one of them makes an argument based on the African cultural perspective, he/she is likely to be told that “he/she is talking like an uneducated backward African person.” This is indicative of the view that many African people who have gone through the formal educational system tend to equate thinking in the traditional African perspective with backwardness. On the other hand, they tend to eqaute thinking in the Western perspective with progress, modernity, and sophistication. This accounted for why many young African men and women act Western in order to look modern and sophisticated.

d. Due to a rejection of their own cultures, many educated Africans, including politicians, students, pastors, mullahs, public officials, and so forth, tend to overact or exaggerate in order to show their sophistication. This is why politics is played outrageously in the black world. Pastors talk and scream as if they have visited God and mullahs act as if they are with Allah. The late Fela Anikulapo Kuti referred to such a pretentious behavior as “Shakara.”

e. Due to mis-education, since most high-level government positions are filled by individuals with advanced or professional degrees, there is not much desire on the part of various African governments to promote African cultures in the world. Otherwise, African governments would have been very proactive in establishing communications with African-America, African-Caribbean, and Afro-Latin America. Similarly, they would have developed educational programs intended to educate the world about African cultures. At the same time, African countries and the African Union (AU) would have established a proactive educational exchange program for African youths throughout the world. In addition, the African Union would have established the African Fund to assist African-America, African-Caribbean, and Afro-Latin-America. It should be recalled that when Haiti had the devastating earthquake in 2010, only few countries, including Jamaica, Senegal, and African-Americans in the African world that rendered assistance in a recognizable manner.

The failure on the part of African governments to actively promote African cultures contributes to the global lack of knowledge concerning Africa and the African people. The African story is always written or told by others who focused particularly on the negative aspects and ignore the positive aspects of the black world. A country like Nigeria that supposed to be at the forefront for the promotion of African cultures fails miserably in doing so. Actually, African-Americans, Ghanaians, Jamaicans, Kenyans and Senegalese do a better job putting out a positive image of the African people than Nigeria. In overall. It appears that Africans in the diaspora actually work much harder to tell the African story than those in the continent.

Written by
Priye Torulagha
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