Dr. Henry Kanyanta Sosala
A STUDY OF CULTURAL GENOCIDE
The world is three days, i.e., yesterday, today and tomorrow. And if you don’t yesterday, then you won’t know what day today is and tomorrow will certainly take you by surprise.
A motorist who does not use the mirror to look back will eventually make a fatal accident.
Life involves our growing upwards and downwards like a tree, which is able to stretch its branches to the sky because it also sends its roots into the nourishing earth. Man or tree without proper roots will fall.
It has rightly been said, ‘’Anyone who has a quarrel with the past, loses the present and risks to lose the future as well.’’ The past must live side by side with the present, while the future is the continuation of the past. It’s only and until when we begin to seriously look back into the so-called ‘’primitive’’ past, our future as individuals and as a nation is doomed. It’s the past that unlocks the future. Futurists like economists and demographers look at data, detect trends and extrapolate them to forecast changes.
The undeniable truth is that scientific truths were made explicit a mere five hundred years ago, and mostly with the works of Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, Isaac Newton etc. in whatever manner our ancestors viewed the world prior to that, it was not through scientific lens. Wise men in all ages have tried with varying degrees of frustrations to figure out the right paths for themselves and their societies. The idea that different societies had different rules and morals was known to the ancient world too and when the ancient Greeks sailed to India and elsewhere, they too discovered that rules, morals and customs differed from place to place and saw the explanation for what was right and wrong was often rooted in some ancestral authority. Socrates, reacting to the uncertainty bred by awareness of these conflicting morals, helped to invent philosophy (Let me digress to state that ‘’philosophy’’ is the lens through which you view the world and make decision; it’s the way you think and it controls the outcome of your life. In other words, ‘’philosophy’’ is just another word for ‘’culture.’’) Aristotle on the other hand, argued that though specific rules, laws and customs differed from place to place, what does not differ is that in all places human beings, by their nature, have a proclivity to make rules, laws and customs. He reasoned that all human beings, by some kind of biological endowment, so ineradicably concerned with morality that they create a structure of laws and rules wherever they are. Aristotle concluded thus: ’’That human life can be free of moral concerns is a fantasy.’’
Reverend James Massey wrote: ‘’There is something to be said for human groupings. There are strengths in common tradition and common culture, which make a people one culture. Each group has ‘intelligible actions’ which grow out of its own tradition and those meanings have an inner significance from which strength for life can be derived. Each human grouping has had distinctives not available elsewhere in just the same way. All human groupings have distinctives that they should preserve, distinctives which give meaning to the group as its members review their ‘story’ in the drama of life.’’ ( Concerning Christian Unity ) (emphasis mine)
Y. Barel wrote: ‘’One manages capital in order to increase it; one manages cultural heritage in order to pass it on, since it influences not only the economy, but a larger area which includes family, politics, social consensus and conflict.’’
Here is Lord Macaulay’s address to the British Parliament on 2nd February, 1830: ‘’I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, if the Africans think that all that is foreign is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want, a truly dominated nation.’’
What actually prompted Lord Macaulay to warn the colonizers about the power of the African culture? Let us listen to Professor Rene Dumont in his book False start in Africa: ‘’African civilization reached a kind of apogee in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries around Benin. African blacksmiths knew how to work gold, copper, bronze and even iron, the latter as early as the time of our Lord Jesus Christ. They thus surpassed the oceanic civilizations, like those of pre-Columbian America in technical development. The system of cultivation practiced at the time, working the earth with hoes after clearing it with fires, and rotation of fallow lands, is still used today with rare modification………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 European techniques. Alas, this development was brusquely arrested and we are still paying for the crimes of our white ancestors, who believed that they were free to do anything, endowed as they were with ‘innate superiority’.’’
And during the infamous Scramble for Africa conference in 1860, the top item on the agenda was Lord Macaulay’s warning on the potential of African culture and more particularly of the African system of education. And here is what Jakayo Peter Ocitti wrote on the Indigenous African Pedagogy: ‘’ Every human society whatever its level of development, has some form of purposeful education. As defined in its natural and broad sense, education encompasses a conscious attempt to help people to live in their society and to participate fully and effectively in its organization in order to ensure its continued existence. The aim of indigenous African education was to train (help, guide etc.), an individual to do a useful job in the family or community. This was the major principle on which all learning activities were based. The consequence of this principle was that the individual should be able to do something, NOT just know something (as in the case with schooling today). The curriculum of indigenous African education is the whole culture – the whole life of the society. Life is education and education is life, as sanctioned by society.
‘’In fact to learn in traditional societies was to become an active participant in the everyday activities of one’s community. The emphasis was on the acquisition of the common domain of knowledge. One of its greatest values, from the point of view of learning, lay in being able to bring individuals face to face with the realities of the social and physical necessities of life. The emphasis was on the acquisition of the common domain of knowledge. In short: school was society and society was school. Such an education was achieved through a variety of realistic pedagogical situations, whether the goal was to master family hereditary skills and knowledge (as in the case of herbal medicine) or that of a highly skilled trade (as in the case of blacksmithing) or perhaps that of training for leadership (usually involving young men of the royal families). In situations in which both socio-moral and techno-occupational education took place was during the period of ritual initiations, particularly pubertal initiations.’’ (Adult Education and Development: Germany Adult Education Association No. 30, March 1988). Note that there was no problem of joblessness in our African communities.
And therefore in view of this threat, the capitalist-exploiter had to act swiftly and tamper with the Africans’ education system: A report on colonial education in Africa that was prepared by J. Miller, the first inspector of schools in Sierra Leone reads in part: “….the knowledge later produces doubt and fogginess in adult life….want of liberal attainments induces imitation of the worst in Europeans.” (ibid).
In fact, the image of the human mind is infinitely malleable and capable of being reformed, transformed and rectified without limit. And this is the area where ‘’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. King Solomon wrote: ‘’Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.’’ The most effective booby trap is its emphasis on teaching ‘’what to think,’’ and not ‘’how to think.’’ The problem with this type of education is that our African intellectuals have the tendency to ‘’conform.’’ And this carries with it the curse of conventionalism and convention is a great discourager of originality. In this scenario the intellectual is stuck with what is called ‘’inert ideas’’ ___ ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilized or tested or thrown into flesh combinations. And as a result, they develop inhibitions which tend to rigidize their thinking. And these inhibitions habitually militate against their attacking problems with an aggressive and imaginative approach. And the majority of our African intellectuals are victims of this strait-jacketing. And surely it is difficult to free oneself without being introduced to Marx, Hegel, Plato, Aristotle, Kant and other immortals. Unfortunately I have been heavily criticized on this by the supposed highly profiled intellectuals, but I have accepted their views because a mad man does not know that his mad.
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).
Here is what a former Education Minister, Honourable John Phiri said that the Zambian university system has failed the nation and that it was clear that the Zambian university curriculum needed to be reviewed so that it supported sustainable development, ‘’We need to review the curriculum at all levels so that learners are better prepared for the challenges Zambia faces. There is need to align universities so that they meet the demands or needs of our people and that they stay with the people if sustainable development is to be realized……our universities only answer the demands of the capitalist world rather than the people who are looking for solutions for poverty, hunger, underdevelopment etc., our universities have failed the people.’’ (The Post 20th February 2012)
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).
The capitalist has an instinct or genius for colonizing. His unequalled energy, his indomitable perseverance 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. And so when he realized that many traditional ceremonies were springing up among various tribes which could eventually awaken Zambians to the reality of their true identity, he reverted to Lord Macaulay’s warning 82 years ago (i.e., 1830-2012).
And according to the foreign-engineered Mung’omba Report of the Technical Committee in the Draft of the Zambian Constitution, Part V on Bill of Rights, Article 63 reads: Language and Culture states in 63 (3): A person shall not be compelled to- (a) perform, observe, participate in, or be subjected to, any cultural practice or rite; or (b) form, join, contribute, maintain or pay allegiance to any cultural, traditional or linguistic association, organization, institution or entity.
Incidentally who goes overseas to go and ’’force’’ the tourists who flock to watch the famous Kuomboka ceremony? The question is what was the motive behind the inclusion of such in the Constitution and chiefs should carefully and particularly note: ‘’….NOT to maintain or pay allegiance to any cultural, traditional or linguistic institution..’’
Anyway I sympathize with the Commissioners who were just blindly nodding their heads because It is difficult today for an African to find his/her specific identity since it has at all times been a sort of ‘’cloning,’’ i.e., to be, it is necessary to be like them. It is unfortunate that in the so-called ‘’cultivated circles’’ it is wrongly believed that cultural heritage is derived from one’s education and conscious approximation to the western living standards. This I suppose is on account of the fact that education seems to open so many doors and it is therefore so easy to regard it as a universal passkey which can fit any lock.
Now listen to Dr. Sishuwa Sishuwa in a paper: Chinese Confucius Institute and the Cultural War in Africa: ‘’Culture is the invisible thread that ties people together or separates them…….. the effectiveness control of the world; that is to truly control a people, one must influence the cultural habits, language and belief system of a people _____ that is why they have established Alliance Francaise, British Council, American Cultural Centre etc. All imperialisms recognize that it must empty Africans of their independent human essence if it is to thrive and defeat existing patterns of social practices that inform the locals’ knowledge and understanding of the world; how they engage in that environment and how they re-create and interact with it through customs, moral norms, laws, beliefs, art or other forms of cultural expressions.’’
Dr. Kaunda had a penetrating insight: ‘’It is primarily through the evolution of a genuine culture that a people discover their identity which many of the people would regard as irrelevant to national development. Universities, too, tend to be strictly utilitarian in scope, turning out a stream of the technical, professional and scientific people required in the central areas of national building. Yet the nation which lacks a firm cultural substructure is jerry-built and though the people have title deeds to the property and the key to the front door in their pockets, they are still homeless.’’