Nsibidi: Education in Nigeria Before Colonisation

The Unknown Nigeria Blog: Nsibidi

It is the simplest thing in the world to assume Sub-Saharan Africans were illiterate and uncivilised before the coming of the White man. Such is well-embraced by the African – if you are well educated. Empire Day celebrated throughout the Commonwealth colonies reminded Nigerians that the King or Queen of England liberated them from bondage. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, one of the best-loved works of Western literature describes the African as a savage and languageless, communicating with grunts like apes. The Father of Modern Social Anthropology, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, swore that Africans had no institutions until the White man arrived – Africans had no marriages, kingdoms, trade, hierarchies, architecture, alphabet, medicines etc. of their own. All these facts are false but very rarely challenged by African scholars. Literacy and education did exist in South-Eastern Nigeria, for a millennium before colonisation. Let us talk about Nsibidi.

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Ignorance and Illiteracy Did Not Win Buhari His Election Victories

60m Nigerians are illiterate, says Perm Sec - Daily Nigerian
Why should ignorance and illiteracy always take the blame for the failings of the weak democracy in Nigeria? It takes some extremism or disturbing denial to ignore or even use derisory evidence and poor logics to affirm President Muhammadu Buhari’s government since 2015 is either competent or successful. Obstinacy and benefit-seeking are culprits. Under Buhari’s watch, Nigeria finds itself taking a steep dive in the economic, political and social arenas of the country. The economy is in tatters with no recovery in sight. Security and safety are hopeless enough to be the responsibility of God. The tribal rivalries are making the country more unstable than before the civil war and the future of Nigeria uncertain than ever. Buhari’s ascendancy to power was not the outcome of an ignorant or illiterate population. It took the scheming of the best educated and most enlightened Nigerians to achieve that feat.

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The Cycle of Good Education and Strong Institutions

Formal education is one of the most overrated things in human development people on the African continent can gain, maybe elsewhere too. Education in the formal sense is an “institutional thing,” i.e. the stuff of institutions. It is not just the stuff of classrooms and ivory towers. Institutions rely on education and education has to be meet institutional and societal requirements through governance for it to serve any useful purpose in society. The symbiosis of institutions and education is both valuable and undeniable. In a nation where institutions are unenforceable, we must expect the education curriculum to be inadequate in many senses. Education is not just the acquisition skills but also the awareness of the requirements of civil participation in a just or improving society.

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Did Wole Soyinka Really Blame the Nigerian Youth?

Recently, Wole Soyinka has been credited with stating in a speech or article titled “Where Did We Go Wrong?” stating a list of the very youthful ages of the Nigerian leaders and pioneers in the immediate post-colonial era. The wordings then goes on to adore the colonial youth of as men of vision and ability. I very strongly doubt that Wole Soyinka either said such a thing in public or wrote it. If he did, he must have gravely overlooked the realities and context that produced the very youthful leaders and pioneers of Nigeria’s past, which he is one. Nigeria’s youthful leaders, therein hailed, have left the country an insuperable legacy of misgovernance, corruption, polarisation and disaster. What is the fuss about Nigeria’s bungling first leaders? Nigeria produced youthful leaders in Nigeria for regrettable reasons, with truly pitiable consequences.

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Literature in Schools Poisoned the “Nigeria Mind”

This was the role model for generations of Nigerian primary school children.It is easy to deride Nigeria and Nigerians because there are ample bases for it and its often convenient; “Nigeria is a Nation of Thieves” as Colin Powell once said or “Nigeria is a Nation of 419ers” or “Nigeria is the most Corrupt Nation in the World” etc. Such derision about Nigeria is mostly about deception and corruption. Unsurprisingly, these vices can be said to be surreptitiously caused in the national primary education institution of the 1970s onwards, attributable to the “New Oxford English Course Reader” (NOECR); the only literature, virtually poison, available to Nigerian primary school kids in the curriculum. Continue reading

The Ontology of the African II: The Youth

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The derisory ontology of the African has not gone unchallenged. At the forefront, intellectuals, civil society leaders, freedom fighters, artists, activists, missionaries and politicians of African descent have chosen innumerable paths and approaches to reverse or negate the derisory ontology of the African to produce a more if not thoroughly positive one. Students, synonymous with youth, appear to be the engaging group of Africans most willing, able, qualified and equipped to challenge the African ontology in the mainstream. How are these young students and scholars faring?
Looking at the African, Afro-Caribbean and African-American experience, the historic protesters against derisory African otology in its political, economic and social forms were mostly under-40s (or peaked before 40). These men and women embraced the dreadful state of the ontology of the African with hope, intelligence, intellectualism, faith, dynamism, courage, martyrdom, idealism and realism. They were all willing to pay the price for challenging White Supremacy, White Colonialism and White exploitation which was often violent and painful death.

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