The Mis-Education of the African People (3)

f. A sizable number of educated Africans rarely speak positively and confidently about African cultures. Instead, they tend to claim that they are Christians and or Moslems. On the other hand, Europeans/Westerners, Chinese, Indians, Japanese, South Koreans, Thais, Vietnamese, Arabs, Native Americans, etc. promote their cultures wherever they go. Many educated Africans undercut their own cultural beliefs, values, norms and practices by claiming to be Christians and Moslems; thereby, justifying their ignorance of their own cultures. Dr. Woodson observed a similar tendency almost a century ago when he wrote “The large majority of the Negroes who have put on the finishing touches of our best colleges are all but worthless in the development of their people” (Mis-education of the Negro, p. 2)

g. A large proportion of formally educated Africans are not likely to identify with their own religious cultures because of the propagandized belief that “African cultures and religions are primitive, barbaric and devilish”. This is why when some Nigerian public officials were alleged to have visited the Okija Oracle in Southeastern Nigeria, none of the officials was bold enough to admit that he/she visited the oracle. A writer, Casmir Igbokwe, commented about the visitation by writing:

It confirms that ours, indeed, is a backward society. Recall that a few years ago, some political gladiators in the eastern part of the country made some allegations and counter allegations about their patronage of Okija shrine in Anambra” (2008, August 10).

The statement tended to reinforce the view that ungodly and wicked deeds are only associated with the traditional African system. It also technically creates the impression that an association with any activity involving the traditional system amounts to being backward. The statement ignores the fact that wicked and ungodly deeds are carried out daily in the world in every society and in every religion by certain individuals. In other words, wickedness is part of the human nature and is not particularly associated with any particular race or society or culture or religion. This is why some philosophers believe that human beings are basically wicked while others believe that humans are basically good. Even as this article is being written, someone somewhere in the world is engaging in an ungodly or wicked act or conduct.

h. Due to mis-education, only the Republic of Benin (former Dahomey) has a Voodoo Day in honor of the traditional African religion in the continent. Generally, Haitians, Afro-Brazilians and Afro-Cubans do a better job of promoting Africanized religions than the Gambians. Malians, Togolese, Guineans, Gabonese, Angolans, Malawians, and so forth. Almost every Sub-Saharan African country is ruled by either a Christian or a Moslem. This means that almost all African political and military leaders are beholden to religions that came by way of military conquest and colonization.

It is also the Afro-Brazilians, Afro-Cubans, Haitians, Jamaicans and the less educated in the continent who proudly worship Ancestralism, Candomble, Santeria, Voodoo and Rastafarianism. Similarly, it appears that it is the Africans in the Diaspora that are greatly responsible for intellectually propagating the traditional African religious cultures. This is why traditional African religion is publicly accepted in Brazil. It is also African-American and African-Caribbean students who seem to lead the black world in questioning the merit of the educational curricula by asking the fundamental question of why they should go to school and not learn anything about themselves and their cultural world.

e. Those associated with the Sub-Saharan African world would not be able to advance scientifically and technologically as members of other races due to the fact that black people have been educated to make decisions based on other people’s cultural viewpoints. Many people do not realize that societies that have achieved industrial advancement do so through the guidance of their cultures. It is their cultures that provide the intellectual stimulation that enable them to pursue certain technological developments. The Germans achieved their success through their cultural perspective. The Japanese have been very successful in applying their culture to the development of micro-technologies. The Chinese rely extensively on their cultural frame of reference to industrialize and modernize their economy. It is only people of African descent that are compelled to ignore their own cultural perspectives in intellectualizing about technological development and modernization. This affects their rate of industrialization since they have no cultural frame of reference to direct their technological goals; instead, swim around the world in cultural confusion, claiming to be what they are not.

4. Due to the propagandistic nature of the formal educational system in the black world, foreign cultural ideas, concepts, terminologies, events, and practices are introduced and espoused through the educational system without sufficiently providing the political and historical reasons and the potential implications.

Thus, formal education, as it is administered to African people, tends to lack critical thinking and analysis. Professor Isaac Asuzu, the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University in Oye Ekiti recognized the lack of critical thinking when he responded to an interview conducted by Dotun Ibiwoye on Vanguard of March 27, 2014 by saying “Our curriculum has not exposed students to the ability to think because when you think, then you can be innovative.” It appears that students are generally compelled to consume the information being given without allowing them to ask critical questions that would lead to the actual acquisition of knowledge. There are many examples to cite from to support the position taken here.

a. As indicated above, religious knowledge is provided to children of African descent, whereby, only the Bible and the Koran are largely propagated. The students become proficient in reciting and regurgitating the sayings in the sacred books. However, the reasons why these religions came into being and their histories are rarely taught. This means that a considerable number of black people cannot comfortably discuss the histories of their adopted religions. Many are unable to explain the forces that led to the adoption of certain religious beliefs and practices by their adopted religions. Many are unlikely to explain the reasons that led to the globalization of their adopted religions. Despite these limitations, they are psychologically, through classical and operant conditioning methods, made to believe that they would go to heaven because they have “chosen the right religious paths by rejecting their primitive and satanic religions”.

b. Secular-humanistic ideas are introduced through the educational system to Africans without providing the reasons which led the Europeans to adopt the philosophy. As a result, many educated Africans do not seem to realize that Europeans adopted secular humanism and rejected faith because of the manner in which the Christian church ruled Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire. The church was very intolerant, dictatorial, and blood-thirsty as it tried to Christianize the Europeans. In the process, it carried out inquisitions, bloody wars (crusades), excommunications and engaged in summary executions of those that were regarded as heretics. Due to the numerous incidents of human right violations and bloody wars, the Europeans instituted the European Renaissance. As part of the process for bringing back the glory days of the classical Greek and Roman periods, they separated the church from the state. By so doing, they rejected faith and conceptualized that reason is the best and only method for studying, analyzing and comprehending nature and advancing knowledge.

c. In most schools

in the African world today, reason and science are taught without explaining how modern science came about. The students are merely propagandized to believe that the scientific method is the best method for engaging in any form of scholarship. Due to the adoption of reason as the basis for advancing knowledge, African beliefs, values and practices, particularly those dealing with the advancement of knowledge are rejected outright as “barbaric, illogical, unscientific and primitive.” As a result, the African philosophical, religious, and practical basis for studying and advancing knowledge are rarely taught to African children. No one in the African educational sector has pointed out to the educational establishments in Africa and in the African Diaspora that education should not be based purely on reason since African people did not go through the religious upheavals that took place in Europe during the reign of the Church.

d. Due to the fact that a significant number of African people were subjected to slavery and colonialism, they are compelled to receive education that reinforces the European/Western and Islamic points of view in every aspect of knowledge while rejecting their own.

e. African people are fed ideas, concepts, terminologies, events, and historical experiences that have no relationship to the African world. Quite often, the ideas, concepts, terminologies, events and historical experiences are included in the educational curricula without explaining the rationale for including them in an educational system. Consequently, African-American, Afro-Brazilian, Angolan, Chadian, Cameroonian, Congolese, Sudanese, Somalian, Ethiopian, Haitian, Jamaican, Bahamian, Nigerian, Ghanaian, etc. students are forced-fed these concepts and events without providing the cultural and historical backgrounds for their emergence.

For instance, the concept of the “consenting adult” is a highly legalized Western concept that emanates from the view that anyone who is 21 years old or older is an adult, therefore, is free to make any decision and engage in any behavior or action he or she chooses, as far as the behavior or action is not in violation of the law. The concept is very much influenced by the Western principle of individualism. Individualism is a sociopolitical principle which gives a higher preference, in many circumstances, to the individual, against the group’s interest, when both collide. However, in the African cultural perspective, a legal age does not mean much since everyone is expected to contribute to the family, until death. Moreover, communal interest is given a higher preference than individual interest. Therefore, when individual interest collides with the group’s interest, the individual interest must give way in order to maintain social equilibrium. The communal interest is based on the view that the ancestors have a stake in the continuity of the group. Thus, every individual must work actively to promote and perpetuate the group’s interest, rather than the individual interest. Therefore, in the African world, individual interest is permitted as long as that interest does not threaten the interest of the group. This is why the African family is treated as a sacred institution since everyone is expected to actively contribute in perpetuating the family. Due to this approach, the family is expansively defined to include anyone who has a blood relationship with another. Through blood relationships, the principle of kinship is developed. Due to kinship a child’s life is impacted by so many people. In this regard, the individual is part of the extended family until death, regardless of age or where the person might reside. The family can intervene in the life of the individual if it needs to do so, without legal permission from the individual.

On the other hand, due to individualization, the family in the Western system is highly legalized and restricted, to a certain degree, to the nuclear family. The individual is free to leave the family, if necessary, as an adult. In the African world, the nuclear family is part of an extended family and the individual cannot leave the family. The extended family operates like a government and takes care of all. In the Western world, due to individualism, the individual is responsible for his or her actions while in the communal African world, the family is technically responsible for the actions of the individual and the individual is responsible for the actions of the family. This is why when something happens, the entire extended family is involved in attempt to resolve the matter. Likewise, sometimes, when an individual misbehaves, the family is blamed for not properly raising the person. Thus, in the African world, the concept of the “consenting adult” is only partially accepted, as long as the behavior or action is not considered a threat to the group’s standard of acceptable behavior, while in the Western world, the concept is almost fully accepted through legalization. Again, due to mis-education, the difference between African and Western cultures are rarely taught to African school children. Evidently, many complete their education without being able to differentiate the difference and wrongly assume that the Western or Islamic perspective is tantamount to their traditional cultural perspective. The truth is that there is an African, Islamic and Western perspectives on any matter or issue.

f. Due to the spreading of secular-humanistic ideas, Africans who go through the formal educational system are socialized to embrace the scientific method as the only way to advance knowledge. This is why whenever an educated African speaks or writes in a manner that is contrary to the scientific manner, he/she is rebuked and denigrated for being unscientific. The ideological inclination towards the acceptance and adoption of the scientific method by educated Africans is due to years of educational propaganda being spread through formal education.

g. Africa is a natural store house and a pharmaceutical laboratory for both preventive and curative medicine due to the abundance of medicinal plants. Despite this fact, no concerted effort has been made to tap into the rich sources of natural medicine by the medical schools in the continent. The failure could be attributed to the fact that the medical schools in the universities concentrate most of their efforts on the acquisition of scientific medical knowledge while looking down at the traditional medicine. However, it should be noted that a considerable aspect of scientific medical knowledge originates from traditional medical practices. Likewise, a considerable number of scientific medical scholars depend on knowledge acquired from native doctors or shamans. In fact, throughout the world, scholars from the West go to Africa, the Amazon and some parts of Asia to intern with traditional doctors/shamans in order to develop the expertise necessary to identify preventive and curative properties of various plants. After doing so, they go back to the West and work with the drug companies and various laboratories to produce industrial drugs. Quite often, the credit for the knowledge is not given to the native doctors/shamans who actually provided the knowledge. Instead, the scientists turned around and mock the native doctors/shamans for being “witch-doctors”, “quack doctors”, and “snake oil” magicians. It is unfortunate that African people are not fully engaged in the exploration of the abundant medicinal resources because of mis-education that rejects anything African or traditional. China is a country that has been able to integrate both traditional and scientific medicine. The Chinese are able to do so because they are very proud of their cultures while a substantial number of educated Africans are not proud of their own cultures.

5. Due to mis-education, it is inferable that a substantial number of African people are not aware of black

contributions to the world.

a. Based on the arguments raised and the supporting points shown above, it is generalizable that a large proportion of African people in the world know very little about themselves since the educational curricula are not designed to encourage the understanding of the African world.

b. Due to the fact that other cultural points of views are largely emphasized in the academic curricula, it is not an exaggeration to say that most African people are not aware of the great contributions of the black world. Al Calloway, a columnist for the South Florida Times wrote:

With rare exception, most black educators, including preachers, appear to
have little or no knowledge of, and/or interest in, the history of African
people before enslavement in the Americas. More rare are black teachers
familiar with African history from the very dawn of civilization itself (2014,
February 13-19).

Mr. Calloway hits the nail on the head about the level of ignorance among black people, not only in the USA but throughout the black world. The most plausible reason for this ignorance is the lack of emphasis on African/black studies in the educational curricula that African people are made to consume through the formal educational systems.

Suggestions

The following suggestions are made in order to reverse the negative perception of African cultural beliefs, values and practices in the world. After all, in every country in the world, education is used as an instrument to reinforce the culture in order to integrate society:

a. Reexamine the educational curricula with a view of introducing courses that reinforce African cultural perspectives on the knowledge of the world and religion.

b. African school children, both in the continent and in the Diaspora, should be introduced to African culture and History as part of their civic studies, right from the primary school level. In this regard, the ministries/departments of education in various countries should work with curriculum developers at the universities to develop African studies courses involving African History, culture, and religion. These courses should be offered in both primary and secondary schools. The Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States are already doing so at the university level. They are offering courses in African History, Black History, Black Psychology and other pertinent areas.

c. The focus of the curriculum on religious knowledge or education should be a comparative study of religions involving all the major religions in the world, including African Ancestralism, Christianity and Islam since Africa is characterized by a triple cultural heritage. It does not make any sense to socialize African children to embrace Christianity and Islam while excluding the religions of their ancestors. An educated African should be comfortable to intellectually discuss any of the three religions, in addition to Rastafarianism and Voodooism, without feeling that one is bad and the other is good.

d. A course known as Contemporary Africa should also be developed. The course should include sections dealing with Africa, African-America, African-Caribbean, and Afro-Latin America. This course should be taught to all children in Sub-Saharan Africa, African-America, African-Caribbean and Afro-Latin America. The purpose is to bridge the information gap involving the four major subsections of the African world. Currently, due to adopting education curricula that reflect other cultural points of views, African people are not aware of themselves. It is necessary for school children in Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Zambia, and so forth, to know what is happening in African-America, African Caribbean and Afro-Latin America. Similarly, it is necessary for Africans in these regions to know what is happening in the continent so that they can work together to build the black world socially, economically and technologically, in a mutually beneficial manner.

e. It is time for African universities to establish the Department of African Religious Studies and Mysticism. Mystical knowledge is as critical as scientific knowledge, if not even better, in comprehending the secrets of the universe. Africa is rich in mystical knowledge while Europe is not. It is understandable why Europeans/Westerners put emphasis only on physical knowledge (science) and tend to ignore mystical knowledge. It is also understandable why the Egyptian mystery schools were abolished.

f. Sub-Saharan African legal experts and scholars should develop a legal curriculum that incorporates African concepts of law and justice with the Westernized and Islamized systems. It does not make any sense to apply laws that are foreign to the people in which the laws are supposed to take effect upon. It is indeed a miscarriage of justice to impose Roman, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Islamic laws on people who operate on totally different cultural systems. Currently, the Western legal view that “ignorance of the law is not an excuse for committing a crime” is inapplicable to the African cultural environment since the Westernized laws are alien to the African people. Can you imagine applying an African or Islamic law in Britain or the United States or France? The citizens of these countries would reject such laws. However, in Africa, the people are subjected to laws that bear no resemblance to the way they resolve issues. In other words, it does not make any sense to apply legal theories, concepts and practices that originated from Rome, England, France, Portugal, Spain, and so forth, on the African people. The reason is that in order for a law to be legitimate, respected and obeyed, it must originate from the cultures of the people that the law supposed to take effect. This is necessary to ensure that everyone understands the implications of the laws.

Similarly, the Western legal view that “one is not guilty until proven guilty” is suitable to the Western world due to the individualistic nature of Western societies while it is not suitable to the African cultural world. The reason is that it encourages people to lie, manipulate and corrupt the legal system. It threatens the African social equilibrium since it allows those who have financial and political power the ability to hire the best lawyers, accountants, and experts to exploit the legal system. This is why it is exceedingly difficult to convict high public officials who have embezzled public funds. The reason is that they use some of the funds embezzled to hire the best lawyers, bribe prosecutors and judges to neutralize charges filed against them. Throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and countries like Jamaica, the United States, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Bahamas, Grenada, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, it is very difficult to convict individuals who have the ability to manipulate the legal system in their favor. On the other hand, those who do not have the resources and the political connections often end up in prison in large numbers.

g. It is time for African political scientists and politicians to develop political systems that resemble or approximate the political cultures of the African people. In fact, the late Chief/Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe attempted to develop a unique political system for Nigeria when he conceptualized the “Military-Cum Civilian Diarchy.” It is evident that the borrowed systems are not working. They have become instruments for the perpetual violations of the rights of the people. This is why political leaders frequently amend the constitutions of their countries in order to remain in power endlessly. An Africanized system is needed in order to ensure transparency, responsibility and accountability. In the precolonial era, any leader who violated the constitutional order of society was forced to abdicate or commit suicide. Today, leaders tend to rule their

countries as if the countries are their personal fiefdoms. This is why they rule endlessly. This is also why they are turning the states into family dynasties.

It is sad that African people continued to be schooled to reject their own cultural heritage. It is pathetic that Ancestralism is denigrated and condemned for being satanic and devilish when, in actuality, the religion is similar to Christianity, Islam, in some aspects, Hinduism minus the caste system in India, Shintoism in Japan, Taoism in China, and various Native American religions in the Americas. Regardless of the level of education, the Indians, Japanese and Chinese proudly talk about their traditional religions while many educated Africans feign ignorance, pretending that they do not know anything about their own traditional religions because they are either Christians or Moslems.

Indeed, the existing educational systems, which are a continuation of the colonial educational systems, are designed to turn African people into something they are not. Otherwise, it is bewildering that an African who has a degree would openly say he/she has no knowledge of his or her own religious culture but can regurgitate the Bible or the Koran. Therefore, it is of much interest here when the Nigerian committees on education held a joint conference on September 24-25, 2013 at the Nicon Hotel in Abuja. The theme of the conference was “Transforming Nigeria’s Education Sector: The Legislative Agenda.” The objectives of the joint committee were:

1) Review the state of the Nigerian Education sector; 2) Approve and institutionalize an annual collective and collaborative consultation on the education sector; 3) Identify areas of critical importance at the national, zonal and state levels that require special focus; 4) Commence the process of further review of educational subsectors to identify legislative interventions that may be required; and 5) Stimulate a consistent engagement with the Executive at the national and state levels that enables the committees to make informed strategic contributions to the development of the Nigerian human capital (Communique of the Inaugural Joint Conference of the National and State Assembly Committees on Education. Senate Committee on Education, Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2013, October 7, p6)

Conclusion

Dr. Carter G. Woodson was right when he wrote the Mis-Education of the Negro. Here, his idea is taken further by saying that peoples of African descent are mis-educated. The mis-education is responsible for why many black women and men are bleaching their skins, putting on synthetic hair and caucasianizing black beauty. This also explains why many highly educated public officials and public figures are responsible for siphoning off public funds and pauperizing the people through the transferring of their wealth to foreign countries. It also explains why African governments continue to operate political, governmental, legal, and law enforcement systems that have no cultural bearing on the African people. In other words, mis-education is turning black people against themselves.

It might be enlightening to conclude this article by asking some fundamental questions in order to demonstrate the flaw that exist in the current formal educational systems in the black world. (1) How is it possible for an individual to be so educated and yet know very little about himself or herself? (2) How can any black person claim to be educated, yet, does not make any effort to study and understand his or her own cultural heritage? (3) How is it possible for any Sub-Saharan African person to go to school in his or her own community, yet, has little or no understanding of his or her traditional religious culture? If charity begins at home, then, logically, education should start with the knowledge of one’s cultural heritage.

Perhaps, the need to know oneself prompted the writing in an Egyptian temple “Man Know Thyself”. This is what is prompting many African-American and African-Caribbean students to ask why they should go to school that teach them nothing about their own cultural heritage. They want to know why they should study everything about other people and not their own. They want answers as to why the Black perspective is always disregarded and or condemned.

To be educated is to be knowledgeable. To be knowledgeable is to be inquisitive and think outside of the educational box. Therefore, those blacks who received a highly propagandized education should think outside of the formal educational box and read more about themselves and their cultural heritage in totality and not in bits and parts. Thus, Carter Woodson, Marcus Garvey, William Dubois, Cheikh Anta Diop, Wesley Muhammad, Chinua Achebe, Henri Frankfort, Eva Sanford, George G. M. James, Nana Banche Darkwah, Ali Mazrui, Maulana Karenga, Jacob H. Caruthers, John Henrik Clarke, John J. Jackson, Benatari Benaebi, and others, should be congratulated for their intellectual foresight and willingness to sacrifice their professional careers in order to redirect scholarship towards the appreciation of African accomplishments in culture, religion, history, science and mystical knowledge. It takes a lot of courage to swim against the intellectual tide. Sister Lupita Nyongo deserves to be recognized for being very proud of herself and speaking about the dangers of skin bleaching. She is indeed an African Queen.

Written by
Priye Torulagha
Join the discussion