By Henry Kanyanta Sosala
In the first place, I would be remiss if I don’t tell a little bit about myself. I am a free-thinker and a free-thinker is supposed to be audacious i.e., to be extremely bold, daring, recklessly brave and fearless. Aristotle said: ‘’You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind…’’ And consequently I developed my philosophical conscience on ‘’how to think,’’ and have stubbornly refused to be told ‘’what to think.’’ I now feel totally liberated because one of the tenets of being a free-thinker is the ability to tell people what they need to know, rather than what they want to hear. I believe that conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. To conform means thinking as the crowd thinks. It is a system of misdirection that makes one exhibit a behaviour called ‘’herd mentality.’’ Thinking carries a moral imperative and disciplined thought-life. The searcher for truth must be ready to obey truth without reservations or it will elude him. Let him refuse to follow revealed truth and he dooms himself to darkness. The coward may be shrewd or cunning, but he can never be a wise thinker, for wisdom is at the bottom of a moral thing and will have no truck with deceit.
I have thus introduced myself just because we Zambians have ears that itch for praises, but we are, however, very sensitive to criticisms and especially since my article, first pertains to cultural genocide, pointing out at the horror of the collapsed moral values in-spite of Zambia having been declared a Christian nation. And second is questioning the value of our current education system since about eighty per cent of educated Zambians of whatever level regard themselves as geniuses, intellectuals, philosophers etc., but to the contrary, genuine and original intellectual out-put is almost zero because we as a nation are even incapable of adequately deal with our indigenous challenges like early marriages or GBV. It is so unfortunate that we have been wrongly taught that the West has all the answers to Africa’s problems. And it is only shameful to expect donors to solve these local challenges for us, to which they too are now unable to come to our rescue. There is just a missing dimension in our ‘’intellectuals’’ which even our leaders have identified. Dr. Kaunda once retorted: ‘’Intellectuals! Intellectuals! You call yourselves intellectuals, but what have you done?’’ And in the same way, Dr. Chiluba said: ‘’We have intellectuals who only cough and smile intellectually.’’
The Post observed in the editorial: ‘’Our society has very few thinkers…..when our future generations ask themselves who the greatest thinkers were at this stage of our history, what will they find? We are afraid they may come up with none. If they should see an amorphous mass of mediocrity ruled by fear of being thought different and in so being subversive. It should not surprise us. It is because we only have time to chase after the little material gleam that is left from the plunderers’ table and nothing more.’’ (ibid. 29th June 2005). The greatest problem with our “Bantu” colonial type of education is that it teaches ‘’what to think’’ and not ‘’how to think.’’
Ngugi wa Thiong’o once wrote: ‘’our lives are a battlefield on which is fought a continuous war between the forces that are pledged to confirm our humanity and those determined to dismantle it; those who strive to build a protective wall around it and those who wish to pull it down; those who seek to mould it and those committed to breaking it up; those who aim to open our eyes, to make us see the light and look to tomorrow and those who wish to lull us into closing our eyes.’’
Who is an imperialist or a capitalist-exploiter? According to Irvin Babbitt, ‘’A imperialist is the man who stands for nothing higher than the law of cunning and the law of force.” The capitalist-exploiters have sharpened their exploiting techniques to the edge of a razor. The capitalist-exploiter has an instinct or genius for colonizing. His unequalled energy, his indomitable perseverance and his personal independence makes him a pioneer. The capitalist-exploiter is a great strategist and he is as well blessed with the gift of wit and he leads with truth but never to truth.
‘’The ear is the gateway to the senses and so whoever controls the mind controls the man. A man can crush any mountain with the double-barrel weapon called, ’perseverance and persistence’.’’ And therefore exploiting a person’s mind is the main target of the capitalist-exploiter i.e., he must by all means try to enslave his victim’s mind. And in this respect, Professor Rene Dumont didn’t mince words in his book, False Start in Africa: ‘’ However, no one knows where agrarian African civilization would be today if it had been able to follow a normal development, in peaceful contact with Europeans techniques, but, alas, this development was brusquely arrested, and we are still paying for the crimes of our ancestors, who believed that they were free to do anything, endowed as they were with ‘innate superiority’.’’
The most powerful thing in life is our thinking, which has the ability to change any situation. And therefore never underestimate the power of thought; your thoughts create the life you desire. Thoughts are forces, subtle, vital, creative and continually building and shaping our lives according to their nature. In fact, your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your unguarded thoughts. King Solomon wrote: ‘’Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.’’
The image of the human mind is infinitely malleable, capable of being reformed, transformed and rectified without limit. Education is power and the purpose of education is to extract a human being from the limited circle of their lower self in order to project them into the limitless circle of cosmic consciousness. And this is the area where the ‘’Bantu’’ education system actively plays its role since character and thought patterns can be directed to desired ends and whoever controls the mind, controls the man. And so the type of education you receive will direct the way you approach the whole spectrum of life. And any teaching that induces a slave mentality or a sense of impotence is not education at all. It is just an attack on the minds of people.
Chairman Mao related to the vision of the will as all-powerful, even to the extent that (in Mao’s own words) ‘’the subjective creates the objective.’’ That is, man’s capacity for both undergoing change and changing his environment is unlimited once he makes the decision for change the entire universe can bend to his will. But again the controlling image is the sense of revolutionary immortality that confers these vaulting capacities upon the mind. And during the Great Leap, Chairman Mao declared that there was no poor soil but poor thoughts.
Dr. Kaunda in A Humanist in Africa wrote: ‘’In fact colonialism, for all its benefits, devalued Man. It created elite societies in which men’s worth was determined by skin pigmentation. And even more serious, the colonialists set out to destroy an African’s self-confidence. They dinned into his mind the idea that we were primitive, backward and degraded, and but for their presence amongst us, we would be living like animals. The result is that even today in an independent African state, you will find a certain sector of the population suffering from a Bwana complex. They cannot stand on their own feet as free men but must look over their shoulders all the time for the approval of the white man.’’
The capitalist-exploiter cannot exploit the continent without first demoralizing the inhabitants. And so he introduced a key word in the African vocabulary i.e., LACK. This particular word has totally dominated every initiative and it has been used to squeeze out hope of prosperity that existed or could have existed within us. Lack is everywhere in Africa. There is lack of good climate; lack of good vegetation; lack of good water ; lack of good air; lack of good soil; lack of good minerals; lack of good people; lack of good natural resources etc. The list can go on and on and in short there is lack of everything on the African continent and the only thing that is in abundance in Africa is LACK itself. The sole purpose of introducing the word lack into our educational curriculum is to create a sense of fear and hopelessness into our hearts and minds because fear paralyses the faculty of reason, diverts concentration and effort and turns will-power into nothingness.
And in view of the above our type of education makes us panic too quickly and therefore we tend to swallow everything from the western man because the very first day when we step into a classroom, we are taught to consider him to have a superior mind. And as the saying goes: water cannot rise above its own level. You can never outperform the self-portrait you have of yourself. We have been taught never to see beyond the white man.
John Hatch in False Start in Africa wrote that at the attainment of our independence in 1964 after seventy-three years of colonial rule, we only had about one hundred university graduates. One thousand and five hundred persons with full secondary school education, i.e., equivalent to grade XII and about six thousand persons with two years at secondary school i.e., equivalent to grade IX. I like Professor Ferdinand Akuffo’s description of the philosophy of imperialism on education: ‘’When a fool becomes wise, then the game is over since there is no one to play the game of a fool.’’
Azwell Banda wrote: ‘’Our current education system from nursery schooling upwards, lacks the capacity to unlock the full creative potential for our people to be their own liberators. It is largely an education for periphery consumers…… the education system does not imbue in our people the burning desire to create for themselves the values and other things they need in life. Our education system produces graduates at all levels, who have no problem with consuming things that they have no clue how to produce..’’ (The Post 9th April 2006).
I am not trying to criminalize the colonial “Bantu” education system that was especially designed for Africa and a good number of playboy intellectuals who are automated like machines that it produces, but I cannot, however, hesitate to point out its deliberate failure to lay concrete foundations of self-discovery; self-assertion and the quenching of the pioneer spirit. And here read for yourselves what Trywell Kalusopa wrote: ‘’I believe that political and economic brains that do not liberate their own people from oozing poverty when they have the instruments to do so are worthless. Brains that recite a pseudo capitalist agenda for self-aggrandizement are a curse to the nation. Brains that cannot break an exploitative system for the good of the Zambian people are dead brains. They are not worth of the brains! They are sterile! These are the sort of brains that believe that the absolute drive towards foreign investment is a panacea to national development.’’ (Sunday Post 19th August 2007).
And in this respect the former French ambassador, His Majesty Jean Paul Monchau also wondered: ‘’Poverty of the Zambian people is mostly unexplained if one considers the country’s riches and without going into details, I do not understand why emphasis was not put on agriculture, the basis for any development strategy.’’
Hasham Nazor in Power of Third Kind: Western Attempt to colonize the Global Village wrote: ‘’If the developing countries’ intellectuals do not soon wake up and challenge the colonizing operation, it will be too late. The process has been activated by the western powers using vast amounts of money, time and planning. Meanwhile, most people in developing nations might not even be aware of its complexity and magnitude. They certainly are not ready for a serious confrontation. Beneath the overwhelming western charm and the power to assimilate, some of the developing nations are already submitting too much….the power to target, penetrate, manipulate and consequently to alter human consciousness through the modern global communications, especially television and the internet is the power of the third kind…..this stimulation of consciousness is the most effective means of global brainwashing.’’ (emphasis mine).
Sishuwa Sishuwa added: ‘’The question is: When will Africa wake up and free itself from clinging on to the adopted and false consciousness of an ideology world view which legitimizes the power and privilege of the very forces that are committed to dismantling it, pulling it down the emerging protective wall around it and lulling its inhabitants into closing their eyes so that as they did before, they sleep again and condemn themselves further into the abyss? It is ironic that the more Africans’ eyes opened, they more they refuse to see with those eyes that which press them down. Africans have not fully realized the power that comes from knowledge and knowing beyond the narrow confines of imperial knowledge.’’
TO BE CONTINUED