Dr. Henry Kanyanta Sosala
The first Zambian Republican President, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda observed: ‘’…..I believe there is a distinctively African way of looking at things, of problem-solving and indeed of thinking. We have our own logic-system which makes sense to us, however confusing it might be to the Westerner. If I were, from my own observation, to try to summarize the difference between African and Western psychology, I would say that the Westerner has a problem-solving mind, whilst the African has a situation-experiencing mind.’’
The colonialists have all along been afraid of the Africans’ natural intelligence. The thinking of those that Darwin said, ‘’were close to their primitive ancestry.’’ Professor Rene Dumont in his book, ‘’False Start in Africa’’ wrote: ‘’ African civilizations reached a kind of apogee in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, earlier 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-Columbus America, in technique 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 modifications.…. 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. But, alas, this development was brusquely arrested, as 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’.’’(ibid. pp. 34/35).
Here is Lord Macaulay’s address to the British Parliament on 2nd February, 1835: ‘’I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa and I have not seen such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this continent, 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.’’
In the 1950s Basil Davidson published a book titled ‘’Which Way Africa? The Search for a New Society’’ in which he wrote: ‘’The point to remember here is that this differential between an invading Europe and an invaded Africa proved crushing to traditional society……Yet if the colonial period was in a large sense revolutionary, its revolution was a strange one. Its contribution was not to build or even lay foundations for the new society that Africa needed. What it did was to open for the new by undermining the old. Contrary to the claims of its prophets, colonial rule did not ‘civilize’ Africa or ‘modernize’ Africa in any meaningful sense of the word, much less leave Africans with the mere jobs of taking over the prepared positions of the new social structure. Its central effect was one of dismantlement. Colonial governments failed to develop their territories for the benefit of Europeans and not Africans. For example, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) was a colony desperately lacking in educational and other social services for Africans. The reason being, as hard-pressed administrators repeatedly explained, that there was ‘not enough money’ to pay for them. Yet the rate of profits-export from the mines of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) has been enormous for at least twenty years. In 1956, to take by no means exceptional year, about 50 million pounds (sterling) in company and corporation profits left the country for shareholders abroad.’’
After 73 years of colonial rule and according to John Hatch, Zambia at the time of independence in 1964, had about 100 university graduates; about 1,500 people with full secondary education (Grade XII) and about 6,000 people with two years at secondary school (grade IX) (False Start in Africa by Professor Rene Dumont p. 292)
However, on the other hand, the freedom fighter knew exactly how his oppressor viewed him as Dr. Kaunda put it: ‘’The European knew the African as servant and employee __ as an extension of a broom or a shovel….. certainly, they showed kindness and even generosity to those Africans they encountered in various relationships. They gave them many things ___ coddled them when ill; helped to educate their children; treated them with a certain fond of indulgence. But their relationships tended to be one-way, with the European dictating the degree of intimacy. There was lacking that basic honesty and openness of true friendship.’’ And therefore, the freedom fighter knew that only political struggle would provide an opportunity to try to work out externally what had built up internally and consequently sought confrontations, for he saw them as providing him with the means of becoming who he really was. The freedom fighter had grasped the truth that he was the master of his destiny and was capable of shaping his destiny. And because of his firm cultural foundation, he got rid of flunkeyism, dogmatism and all other ideas of slavish submissions and came to possess the consciousness of being the master of his destiny and a firm conviction of self-confidence.
Dr. Kenneth Kaunda wrote: ‘’When I came from London in 1964 with Zambia’s independence Constitution in my brief case, I and my colleagues were greeted at Lusaka airport by a huge cheering crowd and in that moment it struck me afresh that it was people who had done this thing. It was the triumph of a Man-centred society over a Power-centred society. At no time in the freedom struggle had we the material power or military might of the colonialists. It was humanity in revolt that won us our freedom. I trust we triumphed not because we had the greater power, but because we occupied the superior moral position.’’ (A Humanist in Africa)
The truth of the matter is that the so-called intellectual of today is very much aware of how unfair his western counterpart is, and yet he has no courage to shout this out, surrounded as he is by the fake signs of presumed equality. Of course, no one can overlook the fact that the white man has brought some good civilization to Africa, but it comes with a sly danger, because while celebrating the generous donor aid such as the distributions of free condoms and such privileges as learning and enlightenment, it can easily blind us to who we really are and come to the fatal conclusion that the white man is the measure of all things. This hypnotizing mentality has subverted the African personality like no other ideology. The greatest damage that the white man has done to an African’s mind is to indoctrinate him to despise himself. And this can be summarized in Lord Macaulay’s words: ‘’….. they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want, a truly dominated nation.’’
Chairman Mao said that the image of the human mind is infinitely malleable, 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. And so the type of education you receive will direct the way you approach the whole spectrum of life. King Solomon wrote: ‘’Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.’’
In their ‘tactical’ withdrawal from Africa, the colonialists left in their tracks the most effective ‘’booby trap’’ i.e., the ‘’Bantu’’ education system which teaches ‘’what to think’’ and not ‘’how to think.’’ The art of colonialism is to manipulate the imagination to the point of controlling every emotion and unfortunately the ‘’Bantu’’ education system has automated our so-called intellectuals like machines and has developed in them inhibitions which tend to rigidise their thinking. And these inhibitions habitually militate against tackling issues with an imaginative approach. And this leads to automated intellectualism which strives to stumble upon simple answers when human life is complicated. And to many of us, education dwarfs the mind and only serves as sponges which induce imitation of the worst type in Europeans.
On the other hand, fake intellect means a surrender of the mind to persuasive powers which is the accumulation of knowledge from the voices of books or the voices of the cunning powers-that-be. For example, the ability to quote Shakespeare, Chaucer or the capacity to know what are the periphrastic conjunctions do not indicate genuine and true intellect, but these are the superficialities of a decadent education system and are the by-products of the imitative complex.
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. However, the education of the colonized Africans was hemmed in within the confines of the colonial system. Our type of education makes us panic too quickly and therefore we tend to swallow everything from the western man. In 1871 a report on colonial education in Africa was prepared by J. Miller, the first inspector of schools in Sierra Leone and it reads in part: “….. the education provided by the missionary and the colonial schools did not fit the indigenous cultural background either in its general orientation or in details of content, methods, materials and institutional arrangements……the knowledge later produces doubt and fogginess in adult life….want of liberal attainments induces imitation of the worst in Europeans.” (Adult Education and Development: Germany Adult Education Association No. 30 30th March 1988).
And 141 years later (i.e., 1871-2012), Education Minister, Honourable John Phiri spoke about the same education anomaly and pointed out that the Zambian university system has failed the nation and said 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).
Trywell Kalusopa added: ‘’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-aggrandisement 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)
Our leaders are also not equally impressed with our intellectual out-put and at one time President Kaunda retorted: ‘’Intellectuals! Intellectuals! You call yourselves intellectuals, but what have you ever done?’’ And in the same way, President Chiluba said: ‘’We have intellectuals and professionals in this country who only cough and smile intellectually.’’
I believe that any knowledge, and especially at this critical period in Africa which does not come down to try and break the vicious cycle in a peasant’s life, no matter how brilliant is just an illusion. Education can only be valuable to us and to those around us when we grasp its essence and properly apply it to our daily realities. It is not the acquisition of book knowledge, but the application of that knowledge that counts.
A Black American, Mr. Carter Woodson wrote in his book, The Mis-Education of the Negro: ‘’When you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary. ….. schools have two purposes for Black children i.e., either destroy or indoctrinate. And for those who survive destruction, they graduate believing that Greece preceded Egypt. White is better than Black.(to the contrary Socrates learned philosophy from Egypt).
In fact what Mr. Woodson meant when he said ‘’When you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions, he will do without being told,’’ can clearly be seen in what Green Musonda wrote: ‘’In the cobalt/copper concentrates transaction, who caused and initiated the contracts with the Israel brothers and overlooked the rejection of the contract by ZCCM board of directors and decided to go ahead to sell cobalt at less than half the international price of nearly US$ 11 per kilo in 1998?’’ (Saturday Post 14th October 2006).
TO BE CONTINUED