Log in
Free: The Observer Mobile App - Exclusive Content and Services

Honesty in higher education crucial for African renaissance

I would like to critique university education so as to determine whether it is suitable to us in its present form or whether we should have an overhaul of higher institutions of learning to make them more relevant to our needs.

Since early 20th century, when Egypt, representing Arab Africa, and in 1957 when Ghana, representing black Africa, became independent states, it has remained topical to talk of the need to reform institutions of higher learning in Africa.

It is pertinent to prescribe different approaches for North Africa, South Africa and the rest of Africa, for they are at different levels of development and experienced colonial domination differently. We focus on black Africa, bearing in mind that the Arab world has had its own share of distorted ideas in its historical development.

Before discussing the curriculum for African universities so as to make it pivotal in the continent’s quest for development, it is crucial to analyze what European universities and intellectuals in general did to African epistemology (knowledge systems), after the advent of slave trade and colonization. Of course Africa had its own knowledge systems; nay, it civilized the rest of the world till it declined due to violence meted out upon it by European and Asian invaders.

One of the most famous observations ever made on Africa’s achievements was by Sir Isaac Newton, the father of mechanical science in modern-times Europe. Of the ancient Egyptians, he observed in Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica that they were acquainted with atomic theory, gravitation and heliocentricity (the idea that it is the earth which revolves round the sun, and not the other way round).

According to Newton, it is from the Egyptians that the Greeks derived their notions of philosophy. Incidentally, at the time of Newton, physics was known as natural philosophy.

It is worthy of note, that as far back as 750BC, Pharaoh Shabaka of Egypt observed that Egyptian philosophy emanated from the interior of Africa (black).

Evidently, it is not acceptable for university intellectuals to continue teaching distorted perceptions hatched to justify enslavement of Africans, colonization and racism after the advent of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade which some scholars refer to as the African holocaust on account of the carnage that slave trade entailed for over 400 years, before it was replaced with colonization.

The Egyptians Newton refers to have the same DNA as blacks south of the Sahara in the Great Lakes region and the level of melanin in their skins to which Africans owe their blackness, is the same as that in Negroes, as Dr Cheikh Anta Diop and Dr Theophile Obenga, demonstrated at the 1974 Cairo Unesco conference.

Many of the heroes and philosophers taught in schools and universities currently, developed their theories during the period after 1650 with the rise of racism, actuated by enslavement of Africans and virtual extermination of the natives of the Americas, Australia and neighboring territories.

French intellectuals led by Nicolas de Condorcet and Anne-Robert Turgot classified races with whites on top and black people at the bottom, to rationalize slavery. German scholars and intellectuals, with the University of Gottingen leading the crusade of distorted knowledge, declared that Egyptians knew no philosophy.

Nazi intellectuals in the 1930s and 1940s fused biology with sociology to better deal with racial theories of development, resulting in the genocide of Jews, Blacks, Gypsies and other minorities in Europe.

English intellectuals and philosophers who set the tone in universities in Uganda, appear to be taken for granted as objective, dispassionate disseminators of knowledge, I suppose, because from nursery schools to colleges and universities we are trained to accept Anglophone views as gospel truth. But, the reality is different.

John Locke (1632-1704), an English philosopher and physician, is regarded as one of the most influential political theorists in the Western world. It is upon his ideas that the famous USA constitution was based.

Tragically, the fellow defended slavery and slave trade as forms of just wars in which the captives were spared and shipped abroad as prisoners of war instead of being killed.

In view of the devastating effects of slavery on Africa, some white powers and institutions have made apologies for the same. In 1985, Pope John Paul II, while in Yaounde in Cameroon, apologized to black Africans for involvement of white Christians in the slave trade as did President Bill Clinton in 1998.

Tony Blair made an apology in 2006 for Britain’s role in slave trade. So have Germans and white South Africans. Ghana, Nigeria, and Dahomey have all offered apologies for some of their chiefs’ involvement in the trade.

Apart from the obvious task of training personnel in science and technology, for restoration of the environment and food security, it is incumbent upon African intellectuals to correctly portray Africans who originated civilization but declined in the last 500 years. And as a corollary, they should spearhead the African renaissance – that is rebirth of broken social relations, restoration of the African family and rebuilding of sustainable civic institutions of governance.

All this entails revisiting the university curriculum entirely. This requires honest talk of Africa’s great past, if only we can shed off shackles of the mind that have been perpetuated in the past because Africans until recently never generated ideas for their own benefit.

This presupposes a firm grasp of ideas by university intellectuals and capacity to critique various distorted and bogus knowledge systems.

The author is a Ugandan retired judge.

Comments

0 #1 WADADA rogers 2017-06-14 15:49
One of the few intelligent men of our time has written, i have nothing useful to add
Report to administrator
0 #2 Didaz 2017-06-14 20:44
Quoting WADADA rogers:
One of the few intelligent men of our time has written, i have nothing useful to add


Wadada Rogers,With all due respect its not intelligent to practice omukulu kyakoba...please finish that then will have a chat at some point.
Report to administrator
+2 #3 Lakwena 2017-06-15 10:32
While I appreciate Rt Justice Tabaro's efforts to convince the uncritical many; that Black Africa civilized the rest of the world, I simply don't agree with him.

This is because, according to the principle of verification, a statement is true, if it is verifiable with facts on the ground.

E.g., currently: socially (education) politically, economically and technologically; the Africans' inability to improve on their standard of living without the assistance of the Europeans and Asians, is a fact.

In other words, the best honesty is self-criticism; to acknowledge that we are not good enough, and have nothing to show. It is therefore a very lame excuse for Rt Justice Tabaro to insinuate that; because the Europeans and Asians invaded and meted out violence upon Africans, it contributed to the decline of African civilization, sick knowledge.
Report to administrator
+2 #4 Lakwena 2017-06-15 10:35
The truth is and was: that the Europeans and Asians, mostly Arabs; found Africans as backward as millions are backward today.

Besides, like their predecessors; it is the dishonesty of the current African leaders responsible for our perpetual backwardness.
Report to administrator
0 #5 Akot 2017-06-15 16:23
Lakwena, thanks!

Uganda is under black colonization: if museveni was white, Ugandans would have understood it a long time ago!

Yet with modern technology, developing countries are in more favourable position to start giving the right Education than developed countries that have to overhaul their entire well established System, to cope up with machines taking over millions of posts from humans!

Modernized Agriculture in USA-EU reduced labour: farm workers are needed only at harvest time (seasonal jobs)!

Posts of secretaries that was so much needed before don't exist any more in Europe!

Europe today employs mainly in Commerce-Social sectors: sales-caring for the old/disables-street cleaning-house keeping-benevolents helping refugees...!

Very many youngs have children to get social housing/allowances!
Report to administrator
+1 #6 Akot 2017-06-15 17:03
African-Muslim-Arab rulers go for medicat care-hollidays in developed countries! They have properties worth millions of dollars in developed countries...while their own populations!

Developed countries have petrolium companies in developing countries badly ruled & they loot, while locals go poor! Which of them said a word about W.Ugandans thrown out of their tribal land?

Which oil/gold...rich tribal lands are next on list to be looted?

Developed countries are trecking down their own with bank accounts abroad, while they accept Africa-Arab-Muslim thieves having huge bank accounts, thus keeping out billions that could go for Education-Health...in these countries!

So many are risking to reach Europe & Europe will make sure dictatorship-bad rule goes on to continue looting our lands dry!

We are really backwards!
Report to administrator
0 #7 Akot 2017-06-17 18:30
It's hing time African countries give their young Free National higher education so that there is a beginning of building of tommorow!

For Uganda this must start right after Primary while those who don't succeed in Primary are also taken in through social services, to help them do what they can!

How can Uganda that has money for priviledges of officials not be able to give Free higher education so that their good living standard continues, while the poor are also given assistance?

Higher education is the back bone of economies, with people with know-how to put in place projects-invent-create... to give jobs to ensure tax money!

Migration to Europe won't stop because people are looking for Education-Social Services!

Good governance is needed to keep even educated people at home, or they too will continue migrating!
Report to administrator

Comments are now closed for this entry