Post-colonial Education and Chaos in Africa
I still gape at how a highly educated society like Kenyan could cascade into anarchy and carnage. Referring to the ongoing impasse in Kenya, one can see what I mean.
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Kenya is among the highly educated countries in Africa. Nigeria too is a highly educated nation in Africa. But looking at the history of carnage and corruption in these two African nations, one doubts the importance of Post-colonial African education. I once mused on this some days ago. When I look at how African elites robbed and cankered Africa, my heart breaks so as to see a grim future as shall we fail to trace a missing link.
Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is an educated person by all standards. But what has he offered to his nation? Goukoun Weddeye of Chad was professor. What did he offer to his country? Remember professor Paschal Lesouba of Central Africa? He left tribal wars behind after failing to govern. Professor Amos Sawyer, Bacchus Marchus and others helped Samuel Doe to butcher Liberians.
Currently in Kenya, professors George Saitoti and Sam Ongeri are helping Kibaki to lead Kenya to purgatory. One still wonders: why a savant and economist like Kibaki would rig elections so as to cause mayhem which destabilizes the economy. Where is the logic for being elite?
Before embossing what I will call the missing link, remind yourself of professor Yusuf Lule of Uganda, Drs. Hastings Kamuzu Banda (Malawi), Milton Obote (Uganda), Koffi Busia (Ghana), Theodore Sindikubwabo (Rwanda) and others. Go a mile ahead and assess their contributions to their countries. Compare the above elites to semi-literates like King Sobhuza, King Moshweshwe and Sam Nujoma, who united their countries. All those above elites proved to be a loss and shame to Africa.
In Kenya, Professor George Saitoti was hoodwinked by illiterates, Daniel arap Moi and Kamlesh Pattni so as to loot and ruin the country. What is happening in Kenya is the result of their bulimia.
In the neighboring Tanzania, Dr. Daudi Ballali, former Governor of Bank of Tanzania was diddled by goons like Jeetu Patel and other Indian conmen to rob the country of billions of shillings. Also elite, Benjamin Mkapa was cheated by Indian conmen and tarnished his image on top of stealing from the public.
Looking at these few examples, one may comfortably ask: what is wrong with our education system that sires irresponsible, myopic and selfish elites like those above? I think: we are made to swallow many unnecessary things in the name of education in lieu of pursuing practical education suited to our environment. To me this is academia-bulimia.
Colonial education is making us dependent on our former colonial masters at the peril of our own people. I like citing my grandfather as an example. This guy was not educated. He did not know how to write and read. Yet he forced his children to go to school. When they completed school and started using English in everything they called professional, he started equating them to a White man’s dog that knows English but still, it is a dog!
In my grandfather’s point of view, moral corruption and unfaithfulness went tete a tete with the education he used to look at as modernity. This is true. The more educated the more the residents of the area, the more the moral corruption. Compare Nairobi to other areas in Kenya. Even the level of corruption in Swaziland is lower compared to that of Ghana.
There is a Tanzanian doyen writer Shaaban Robert. This standard four leaver wrote many books. Many of them are used at the university level. Many students of linguistics read and use Robert’s books in order to qualify and be awarded their degrees. I still ask myself: who is really educated between Robert and those copying and quoting his books? Why was Robert able to write whilst our graduates cannot do so? Does it mean our education creates lack of self-confidence?
I stand to be braved. This missing link makes my head to go in circles. I can’t espy any sense in, say, a professor who shied away from his name Kinuthia, to take George, knowingly that the latter is colonial and steals his identity; or the one that was used by illiterates to abuse his office and trust.
The missing link seems to be lack of practical education system made in Africa for Africa. This becomes evident due to the fact that the education system we inherited from colonial regimes was meant to produce a cohort of stooges to be used to entrench colonialism even after the exit of the colonizers.
That is why Africa has never been able to use an African language in its business abroad just like Chinese, Japanese, Arabs and others. That is why Africa became a witness of the demise of her "justicious" religions and culture.
Kenyan renowned elite, Ali Mazrui in 1964 was jeered at when he suggested Swahili be used in the business of the then Organization of African Unity. Currently, there is a kafuffle between Franco-phone and Anglo-phone countries. This used to go deeper and even affected the post of secretary-general of OAU! Africa needs practical education made in Africa. This will emancipate Africans from being used by imperialists to sabotage Africa.
Last killer point, presently a Tanzanian from Monduli (Maasai) asks a passport from a Kenyan Maasai from Kajiado not knowing that those folks used to live in one country known as Africa before 1884 during the Berlin conference! If the said Maasai possesses no passport, he is shown the door in his own country by his own brother! Are these two folks really educated? Education is a tool to solve one's problems as he becomes more human than anything else.
A Kenyan Gikuyu is torching the house of a Kenyan Luo just because they belong to different political and tribal outfits. At the end of the day these folks are Kenyans just like other Africans who have never accepted to be Africans in principle as they are preoccupied by the colonial demarcated boundaries that hamper the re-unification of Africa!
Had African elites really received worthy education, they’d have re-united Africa after they acquired their independence. That is why it becomes logical to aver that Africa has never become independent. How could it if at all what is going on is the prolongation of colonialism? Here is where the missing link sits.
By Nkwazi Mhango
Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He is a Journalist, Teacher, Human Rights activist and member of the Writers' Association of New Foundland and Labrador (WANL)
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