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The Miseducation of Africans: Savage Inequalities in Four Part Harmony

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A pupil learning reading, writing and taking notes whilst earnestly squatting on haunches and straining to follow the lesson in the heat of a packed classroom

A pupil learning reading, writing and taking notes whilst earnestly squatting on haunches and straining to follow the lesson in the heat of a packed classroom

Mothers, on registration day seeking to enroll their children for the first time.

Mothers, on registration day seeking to enroll their children for the first time.

Top: Students in an overcrowded classroom, a few seated, and some sitting and writing on the floor, or holding their books so that they could write. Bottom: Students writing on the floor,  while some others holding their books on their knees.

Top: Students in an overcrowded classroom, a few seated, and some sitting and writing on the floor, or holding their books so that they could write. Bottom: Students writing on the floor, while some others holding their books on their knees.

Top: Overcrowded classroom and pupils sitting four in a desk and some on the floor taking lessons. Those whose parents can afford uniform and those  who cannot afford school uniforms. Below, students in a classroom   in discipline form

Top: Overcrowded classroom and pupils sitting four in a desk and some on the floor taking lessons. Those whose parents can afford uniform and those who cannot afford school uniforms. Below, students in a classroom in discipline form

Top: Student sitting outside on the dirt, and the teacher with his desk outside, teaches students from a hand held Blackboard put on the ground,  . Bottom: Student classroom in a Hut and home-made desks.

Top: Student sitting outside on the dirt, and the teacher with his desk outside, teaches students from a hand held Blackboard put on the ground, . Bottom: Student classroom in a Hut and home-made desks.

A really full class with no desks and children writing on the floor or have their books on their legs, or simply holding the book up and writing. At the same time, teachers were very strict about calligraphy. Photo # 8, Photographer Unknown.

A really full class with no desks and children writing on the floor or have their books on their legs, or simply holding the book up and writing. At the same time, teachers were very strict about calligraphy. Photo # 8, Photographer Unknown.

A teacher using two uneven Blackboards to write out the lesson's notes for her pupils, and the Blackboards are propped-up against the corrugated iron, and stood-up on a table. Photo #1, by Ernest L. Cole.

A teacher using two uneven Blackboards to write out the lesson's notes for her pupils, and the Blackboards are propped-up against the corrugated iron, and stood-up on a table. Photo #1, by Ernest L. Cole.

Students kneel on the floor to write. Government is casual and unwilling to furnish schools for Africans.

Students kneel on the floor to write. Government is casual and unwilling to furnish schools for Africans.

Brand new school with no desks. It opened with 700 students and only three teachers assigned by the Apartheid government. With no supervision, people went to recess and leaving books scattered and trampled

Brand new school with no desks. It opened with 700 students and only three teachers assigned by the Apartheid government. With no supervision, people went to recess and leaving books scattered and trampled

African children attending classes in any available structure, a tin shack, because of the shortage of school building. Parents and the township resident have to raise half the cost

African children attending classes in any available structure, a tin shack, because of the shortage of school building. Parents and the township resident have to raise half the cost

A teacher struggling with one of the two daily sessions of one hundred students each. Children learning to write hardly have elbow room to write on their slates and books

A teacher struggling with one of the two daily sessions of one hundred students each. Children learning to write hardly have elbow room to write on their slates and books

The Teacher toward the end of her day in school.

The Teacher toward the end of her day in school.

June !6th 1976, Students exuberantly Marching against being Instructed in Afrikaans Language in all their high schools courses; They were also protesting Bantu Education.

June !6th 1976, Students exuberantly Marching against being Instructed in Afrikaans Language in all their high schools courses; They were also protesting Bantu Education.

One of the African schools in Soweto being re-named in graffiti by the students in 1976, and they were revolting against apartheidized schools controlled tightly by The Bantu Education Department.

One of the African schools in Soweto being re-named in graffiti by the students in 1976, and they were revolting against apartheidized schools controlled tightly by The Bantu Education Department.

Fott Hare University, South Africa which Apartheid changed to a Xhosa people only College

Fott Hare University, South Africa which Apartheid changed to a Xhosa people only College

University of the North at Turfloop, now called University of Limpopo, which Apartheid designated for the Sothos, Vendas and Tsongas.

University of the North at Turfloop, now called University of Limpopo, which Apartheid designated for the Sothos, Vendas and Tsongas.

University of Zululand (or UniZulu) and this university was created by the Apartheid regime into a Zulus-only institution of higher learning.

University of Zululand (or UniZulu) and this university was created by the Apartheid regime into a Zulus-only institution of higher learning.

This limestone complex of 13 auditoria along the northern side of the roman theater is believed to be the site of the city's ancient university which is thought to have schooled some 5,000 students at a time. It is also the alma matter of Archimedes

This limestone complex of 13 auditoria along the northern side of the roman theater is believed to be the site of the city's ancient university which is thought to have schooled some 5,000 students at a time. It is also the alma matter of Archimedes

Sankore University, also known As Sankore Majid, or the University of Timbuktu.

Sankore University, also known As Sankore Majid, or the University of Timbuktu.

3D model of the forbidden city of Timbuktu Mali, and parts of Sankore University, at the bottom, semi-blocked out.

3D model of the forbidden city of Timbuktu Mali, and parts of Sankore University, at the bottom, semi-blocked out.

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Instut de Hautes Etudes, Dakar

Instut de Hautes Etudes, Dakar

P.S. 24 in Riverdale, Bronx. The Picture shows the front entrance of the school.

P.S. 24 in Riverdale, Bronx. The Picture shows the front entrance of the school.

Students and Faculty at P.S. 24

Students and Faculty at P.S. 24

Pubic School 261 which faces Jerome Avenue in the North Bronx is situated the same way as the school in this picture on the right of this picture and in a busy street with lots of taraffic

Pubic School 261 which faces Jerome Avenue in the North Bronx is situated the same way as the school in this picture on the right of this picture and in a busy street with lots of taraffic

Mound Elementary school, located close to Mittal Steel in cleveland, was named in the nation's top percentile for dangerous air pollution

Mound Elementary school, located close to Mittal Steel in cleveland, was named in the nation's top percentile for dangerous air pollution

Insistence on a "culture of high expectatction" at a public school, has poor kids saying that those classes are for Asian and white students, that's when one sees that miseducation hurts.

Insistence on a "culture of high expectatction" at a public school, has poor kids saying that those classes are for Asian and white students, that's when one sees that miseducation hurts.

Decolonization Of How To Know: Deconstructing Apartheid's Past

Africa In General

It is now the 21 century, and no longer should anyone apologize for what they do for the good of the people. We are in a stage in human history when we should not be afraid to talk the truth about historical events that led us into the 21 century. Only the truth will liberate us. Again, only History will makes us noble about what we know and how we know it — how we use it and where we use our understanding of this history.

Unearthing debilitating facts and the truth is not a popular thing these days, and I aim to leave a legacy for all who care to know about the state of different nations around the world, and in my case, my focus is zeroed onto Africa, and why people of African are treated the way they are.

I will try and lay out historical reality about their humanity and how this has been shaped, formed, and made to be what we see Africans as being today. Usually I put much effort to begin by sticking to the topic whenever I write any hub. But, in this case, I wanted to preface my remarks by making note that the facts and the truth as they take over the hub, and my writing voice is overtaken by what the realities the topic is about, my task is to make sure that the thread is as close to the truth and riddled with facts as it can possibly be.

My Years as a person in the school of life and hard knocks, in life's education and other forms of education, compels me to write about a very hard and complicated subject, that is, how have Africans been Miseducated in a savagely unequal way in four main areas I will be discussing here. It is important to record history accurately and within that truth hope that people of all races will understand that there was a pattern here which persists to play itself out to this day, and hope that, we will know it intimately, thoroughly throughout and pick up whatever we can from it.

Of course, colonialism took care of that side of things, by designing an education they considered fit for their subjects, and what the final product of that effort was to be like for the colonists; and what they did was very well engineered indeed because it affects Africans in a myriad ways. It would only be proper in this day and age to take a very closer look at this phenomenon and know exactly what it is that went into it, and what those effects are like, and how this has affected those for whom it was designed and intended for.

Part One Movement of Disharmony

The task of this Hub is to root out the colonial imperialist miseducation and end cultural imperialism by systematically interrogating, deconstructing, destroying, debunking and exposing all encrustations of colonial and slave(Apartheid) mentality, so that we can clear the bushes and stake out new foundations by exposing these fallacies, for a new liberated African modernity.

This process must take place in all spheres of African life — primarily in Education which will inform and correct the problems in government, industry, family and social life, city planning, architecture, arts, entertainment, culture, customs and so on. This hub intends to contribute in that fashion and pattern when it interrogates the 'Miseducation of Africans.

Our freedom as a people is not secure without a firm economical foundation. Marcus Garvey understood this very well and he worked for its realization and finally, in the end, the shenanigans of the opposition and the vicissitudes of life took their toll on him. If in our study of History about African people is merely an exercise in feeling good about ourselves, when we will expire on this earth feeling good, but not having achieved much.

We need to look at the lessons that history teaches us. Africans must understand the tremendous value of the study of history for the regaining of their power. If African Education is not about gaining power, they are then being miseducated and misled they will die "miseducated into ignorance" and misled.

The study of history cannot be a mere celebration of those who struggled on our behalf. We need to be instructed by history and should transform history into concrete reality, into planning and development, into the construction of power and the ability to ensure our survival as a people. Every nation on earth pursues the same goals, ends and ideas about their own history and the study thereof. Africans then should look at and study history in a light that advances their interests, not inflates their egos and blinds them to reality.

History has a poor reputation; often it is looked upon by many as essentially a set of dates and events. Most people often wonder as to why they should study these dates and what is that they have to do with today? Some look at history as if to say it may be used to explain how things came about in today's world, and they also presume that we can live without it. Among African People there are those who see African history as irrelevant and unprofitable, nor is it going to get them a job, and wonder ever so loudly what can they do with it?

As historians, some of us do not see these statements as intelligent statements. Hearing them, one recognizes that the individual has not seen the connection between history, power and money. There is a direction connection between history and economics. If there were not a direct relationship between history and money, a direct relationship between history and power, history and rulership, history and domination, then, why is it that the European rewrote history?

Apparently, the rewriting, the distortion and the stealing of a people's history must serve vital economic, political and social functions for the Europeans, or else they would not bother to keep history form Africans and miseducate them in the process.

History being projected as irrelevant in the Western Culture is not an accident, but if it is made to look irrelevant, if it is made to look unprofitable, then making it appear so must serve some profitable purpose. When courses in college or university are apparently presented in the most "nonpolitical," "objective," "neutrally," they are actually presented in the most political way. So that, the culture of colonial imperialism presents so-called facts and information as if they have no connections or implications.

Education of Africans into Ignorance

Universities serve as finishing schools for those who have to lead and develop the traditions of a society. If, as we have seen, a modern African culture is developed, not within, but perforce outside Africa's universities, it requires a revolt against the Europhilia of these institution for artist who emerge from them to join in creating an African modernity, then all African nationalists question and want to know what's wrong with them.

Then they begin to see these African universities as conduits for dumping pro-European culture of higher learning into the African cultural stream. They also see them as nurseries designed to negate a liberated African consciousness, and nurseries of a vigorous neo-African culture.

They see this negativity in terms of how these African-Europeanized university are getting more national money poured into them , while the genuine pioneers of a modern African culture are neglected. These universities are seen, by African people, as transplants that do not have any connection with the university tradition of pre-genocide Africa.

The French Connection

These African universities do not draw any inspiration from Sankore, Timbuktu's vanished university, but they have strong links with London, Durham, Paris and Marseilles. For example, in 1947, the faculty of law at Aix-Marseilles established an outpost in Tananarive, Madagascar.

Or another example would be in 1950, both the universities of Paris and Bordeaux established a joint outpost in Dakar and they founded the Institute des Hautes Etudes, and the educational content was controlled by professor from Paris and Bordeaux. So, in 1955 control was at Tananarive, in 1958 at Abidjan, and in 1959 in Brazzaville.

In fact, the institute in Brazzaville was declared to be the eighteenth university of France, and it was governed by the statues which were used to govern the universities of France; its academic staff was part of a cadre of the French university system; its admissions, examinations and standards were the same as for universities in France. Other institutes followed suit and became French universities on the African Continent.

British Imperial Enlightenment

British universities on African soil have a similar history. Their founders created them as components of the imperial university system. In 1943, Oliver Stanley when he was setting up the Asquith Commission on Higher Education in the British colony, made this revealing remark: "His majesty's government is deeply committed to quickening the progress of Colonial peoples towards higher level of social well-being and towards the ultimate goal of self-government.

"It is essential to the success of this policy that the supply of leaders from the indigenous people themselves should be rapidly increased. There is, therefore, an urgent and fundamental need to enlarge our facilities for higher education without which these leaders cannot be created.

"The Universities of this country have in the past made their vast contributions to the successful growth of the overseas dependencies by themselves training and nourishing the administrators and specialists on whom their progress had depended.

"We are now entering on an era when this contribution may become more indirect, but no less vital by taking the form of assistance in the development of Colonial Universities which will rear the local leaders of the future ."[emphasis mine](Quoted from Sir Eric Ashby)

It is important to point out that these leaders have been reared and created not in an African but Anglo-Franco mold. African apprentices in these universities were taughtCeltic, Old English, British Empire History, British Empiricism and Atomism; they steadfastly refused to teach Hausa, Igbo, Swahili, Ewe, Zulu, Ndebele, Shona, or African History, African Religions, African Cultures and Customs and African Arts in their curricula.

It is interesting to note that after the independence of most African states, some of those minds brainwashed and miseducated by these universities have opposed any Africanization of the intellectual content of the African universities. This phenomena of Africans attacking and viciously condemning anything that has to do with the interests and development by other people of African descent, is not only limited to the Europeans, it is also found in the US and other countries with large African populations in them.

They were also opposed to opening these African universities to any intellectual currents that British might not approve. Until these universities are redesigned and made independent, they can be expected to continue reproducing similar men and minds.

Reconciling African Tradition with local Universities

Many demands have been made to Africanize these transplanted institutions and to make them serve African Needs. They were designed to the needs of the imperial industrialists and protect Britain's economic interests against African competition; these transplanted universities also emphasized the fine and liberal arts, the classics, the sciences and public administration, but they did not dare provide facilities for training Africans in entrepreneurial skills.

A case in point was when in 1954, the British University College of the Gold Coast was resisting pressure to establish facilities for training of bankers, accountants, managers and other scarce professionals, that is when Nkrumah said: "While I fully subscribe tot the vital principle of academic freedom, a University must relate its activities to the needs of the society in which it exists. We must in the development of our universities bear in mind that once it had been planted in the African soil, it must take root amidst African traditions and culture."

To create and manage this paucity of sound blueprints since the 19 century, three important African intellectuals offered a combined insights, J. E. Casely-Hayford, Edward Wilmot Blyden and James A. Horton, about how the make-up of genuine African Universities should be like. Horton called for the establishment of a university for British Africa in 1861, and he wanted it to be exclusively a place for scientific and technological education.

In 1872 Blyden wanted a West African university that would built the moral character and meet the cultural needs of Africans. He stressed that universities in Africa should completely have an African character. Casely-Hayford until his death in 1930 was advocating for a West African university, and he wanted it to emphasize African languages and customs.

He also wanted them to stress the Nile Valley's contribution to African history, and he wanted them insulated from unwanted western influences. These three intellectuals, although their visions overlapped, provided us with some ingredients that would fashion a truly African University

  • It had to emphasize science and technology.
  • It must directly absorb classical Mediterranean cultures and other civilization, but must avoid racism.
  • It had, by any means necessary, promote African Studies, foster African consciousness, and be an incubator for African culture and nationalism.

The dormancy of African scientist and productivity is due to the lack of promotion of original science or creative technology amongst Africans by the colonialists. The African industrial bourgeoisie was discouraged in order to void competition against the European bourgeoisie. Little has been done to guide the fledgling minds of africans to be able to distinguish between the potentially beneficial achievements of the West and the mind retarding racism that exudes from Western culture transplanted into Africa.

African History and culture, although by now initiated by Africa's universities, they still have yet to occupy the center of their curricula. The Curricula written, designed and dictated to by the British and the French, remains the obstacle to an African centre curricula. As it is presented in these colleges under the weakened umbrella of African studies, i.e., the study of African languages, philosophies, religions, linguistics, written and oral literatures,ethics, economics, politics, aesthetics, social traditions, institutions and history is often inadequate and miseducating in its direction, orientation and application.

The study of Anthropological and Sociological studies in these transplanted universities was defined and designed for Western needs and Imperialist control of Africa, and are studies of African History from a pro-European perspective, and they are Imperialist studies of Africa, not African studies for Africa by conscious Africans, and at this point, it does not really matter what those African scholars engaged in this fare say about it.

To transform the present universities to serve as truly African universities, in the words of Dr. Ajayi, is to be aware that…: "... the failure to adapt African Universities from alien models into institutions where African tradition is reconciled with the innovative need of the moment owes a good deal to fault planning, the obstruction of interested individuals, the miseducation of university teachers or the confusion of political leaders."

Ajayi sees a more serious obstacle as the need for African societies to recover from the blitzkrieg of colonialism, they have to be decolonized both psychologically and mentally, and the application of perspectives from the colonial past used to rediscover a sense of direction in our present predicament. Ajayi goes on to add that: "This is a problem not only for the universities but for society as a whole."

But it is also at bottom an intellectual problem and society has every right to look to the universities to provide the theoretical framework for a breakthrough and the required new perspective. This view is not only held by Africans since this hub is solely focused on them. The importance is seen by many in the world who have or are suffering colonized miseducation.

I will like to digress and add a viewpoint which goes to the heart of the discourse in this hub, although in a different culture, country and people. Jose Marti in El Partido Liberal, January 1890, made these remarks:

"In nations composed of cultured and uncultured elements, the uncultured will govern, because of the habit of resolving doubts with their power wherever the cultured have failed to learn the art of governing. The uncultured masses are lazy and timid in matter of intelligence, and they want to be governed well. But if the government offends them, they are aroused, and then they are the ones who govern.

How are the rulers to be graduated from a university if there is no university in America where they teach the rudiments of the art of government, which is an analysis of the elements peculiar to the nations of America. Young people go out into the world wearing Yankee or French spectacles to solve problems, and aspire to rule a nation they do not know. Political careers should be denied to those who disregard the rudiments of politics.

Prizes in competition should not be for the best ode, but for the best study of the elements of the country in which one lives. In journalism, among the university faculty, and in the academies, the study of a country's true elements must be carried on. Just knowing them, in plain language and without beating about the bush, is enough, because anyone who lays aside part of the truth, either intentionally or due to forgetfulness, fails in the long run because of the truth he lacks, which thrives upon neglect and overthrows what is built without it.

To solve a problem after knowing its elements is easier than solving a problem without knowing them. The strong and indignant natural man comes and overthrows the justice accumulated from books, for that kind of justice is not administered in accord with a country's patent needs. To know is to solve. To know a country and govern it in conformity with knowledge is the only way to free it from tyranny. (My Italics)

The European university must yield to American university. The history of America, from the 'Incas' to the present, must be taught down to the fingertips, even if the history of the Greek archons[Archons were the chief magistrates in many ancient Greek city-states] is neglected. Our "Greece" is preferable to a Greece which is not ours.

We need it more. National politics must replace foreign politics. [Italics mine] The world must be grafted onto our republics, but our republics must be the trunk. and let the defeated pedant hold his peace, for there is no country in which a man takes more pride that our afflicted American republics."(from Mexico) This citation should be also read by the young and up and coming African South African Students.

Even though our universities are rushing pell-mell to stock our minds with every doctrine imported from the West, and also eager to import all manner of western practices into our body politic, the following comments taken from pre-conquest African rulers reveal a different mind-set from what we have seen or have been told about Africans: Dom Alfonso I, King (1505 -1543) of the Bakongo, is said of him: "He studied the Portuguese codified laws in the original bulky folios, and criticized the excessive penalties which were inflicted for even trivial offenses. He jokingly asked the Portuguese envoy one day: Castro, what is the penalty in Portugal for anyone who puts his feet on the ground?"(Boxer)

And of William Dappa Pepple, King (1835-1864) of the Niger Delta, city state of Bonny, his encounter with a European Christian evangelist was related: One discussion of the merits of Christianity has been preserved because of he eminence of the man concerned, King William Dappa Pepple of Bonny, an Island State of Ibo, Ijo and Andoni element. His would-be evangelist, a trader, began by asking the king what his beliefs were.

The questions were naïve enough: "Have you seen God?" — and were quickly snubbed "It no be your business, you come here for trade palaver." Nothing deterred, the trader began his own exposition of Christianity, the timbre of which can be judged from the King's objections: "He thought some people must have been fools to attempt to build a tower to heaven." The doctrine of atonement struck him as absurd.... When asked for proof, the trader could think of nothing better than the fact that "it was almost universal belief among white men" and that the Bible said so. the King's response was instant: "Does lie never live for book?"(Isichei)

Ignorance As A Weapon of Mass Destruction

The African Petit Bourgeoisie

"African people, even as they watch their irreplaceable resources being depleted, because they are the' bread-basket' of the western Imperial powers, dare not cast doubts to the zany recipes sold to them in the name of 'development,' 'modernization,' and 'progress.' Their mind remain dutifully handcuffed in pro-western abstraction and shenanigans of imperial categories of discourse, and in the process they pose wrong questions if they pose any at all; the problems they frame and proceed with all the intellectual energy they dare muster in trying to solve these problems.

What need to be paid attention to and applied is a healthy skepticism and an ever active nationalist consciousness which can open new perspectives that will be of lasting profit for Africa. No amount of personal wealth, athletic skill or intellectual achievement will help any black man escape the contempt westerners reserve for all, of any race whatever, we belong to groups which have become less powerful than their own.

To regain our dignity, we must make it impossible for any group to ever gain trample upon us. We must confront their intention to do so with a power they can neither trample upon nor ignore" (anonymous). According to Ajayi: "Leaders who plan for an African future but consider knowledge of the past irrelevant, can only be presumed to be harboring the colonialist view of the African Past.

It was the wisdom of our fathers to emphasize that each recent generation owes obligations and responsibilities to both the ancestors and the generations yet unborn. This is how Yambo Ouologuem put it: "Incidentally, there is no black people, there is a problem of class conflict to which the black man lends the color of the contempt inherent in his condition; one should remember his history and see the tensions of today with objectivity."

People who manipulate the past and present manipulate one's mentality, sanity, contact with reality and the ability to deal with reality. In other words, the manipulation of history creates real effects in the individual's personality. African history not being properly taught to African people ensures that African potential will be forever undeveloped as a people and that will not change those that rule over them. Being cut off from one past means that you have gained an alienated knowledge.

In school you are taught math and science and so on to the degree that you forget what and who you are — your history — and forget your connectedness with ones peoples. A lot of Africans educated in all the Western universities are CEOs of Mega-Multicorporations, yet they cannot build one.

When we become socially amnesic, our resources are pillaged and our creativity is retarded. A people who do not share history, who do not appreciate the shared experiences that their history represents, are a people who cannot utilize mutual trust, dependability, and so forth, upon which to build an economical social system. African people who forget their history are a people who forget that they had an economy before the Europeans came into existence. They are a people who forgot that their economy was developed and maintained before the imperial ascendancy.

History is not only written in books but that history is contained in every facet of life. We are interacting in the context of history right now at the writing of this hub. History is everywhere written in the streets that we walk down, in every building, every highway, in every yard, everywhere we go, it's there; it's shaping; it's transforming; it's creating; it's blocking; it's constructing. Even if Europeans would stop reading history, their history will still be operating everywhere we go, turn and reside. It is inextricably linked and wrapped into every situation, circumstances and events of life.

We study math and we would think it originated in Greece. It is usually introduced that way. We get the Pythagorean theories and Euclidean geometry and Boolean algebra and other European names spread throughout mathematics. The names and the concepts and who "first " discovered it is history; images are being projected historically; European history is embedded into their[images] study. In every discipline we study in the college/university/school we're going to run into European history: it is intimately intertwined with all disciplines.

As long as our own history is not intimately and inextricably entwined with everything we do, with every study we undertake, is not represented in our Universe, in our buildings and our walls, in our houses and streets, then we need to study history more consciously than do the Europeans. African people cannot always follow the route of European people. They build history in the books and then they build it into the world or the other way round. They might have reduced their attention to the world, but their history is still functioning out there in the world. By not doing things their way leads to injurious outcomes for African people in Africa and in the Diaspora.