As is very well known by now, the African Union, the preeminent continental African organization dedicated to African unification into a Union of African States, is very deeply involved in its drive to succeed. For all the other problems which must be addressed, public education in Africa dwarfs most of the others.
Colonial education in Africa was fundamentally aimed at teaching Africans that Europeans were superior in everything, and that the purpose of African life was to follow whatever Europeans said and go wherever they led. Africans were to stay divided and quarreling among themselves, and the only unity they were to achieve was in their agreement to allow Europeans to do whatever they wanted in Africa and to Africans. Colonial education was aimed at teaching Africans to stay dependent on White outsiders.
According to Professor Walter Rodney, colonial and neo-colonial education was “education for subordination, exploitation, the creation of mental confusion and the development of underdevelopment.” Colonial education created tamed, servile, obedient and passive servants of the system who saw the highest stage as being praised for being “good civil servants” or model students.
Neo-colonial education, the immediate successor of colonial education which is currently in vogue in Africa, similarly has been aimed at using African educators to teach African inferiority and European superiority.
In spite of colonial and neo-colonial education, African independence occurred. Currently (counting Western Sahara), there are 55 independent African nations, with only Ethiopia having escaped colonial domination.
The first 50 years of African political independence bore witness not only to numerous coups d’etats based on African brainwashing resulting from the colonial educational system, but to a seemingly intractable problem in African self-reliance and development. There must now be a naissance of Pan African education to remedy that multi-pronged problem.
Pan African education is to teach Africans that they must be united (a Union of African States), that they must forge and learn a single African language that all Africans will speak, and that they are stronger and more formidable when they are united in collaboration than they are separated, divided and disjointed. Twenty-first-century Pan African education is about teaching all Africans the worth and positive value of being African in this world-and that being Black and African is neither a curse nor a shame.
Pan African education is a common set of curricula measures designed to teach Africans to think of themselves as Africans first and foremost, and as Fulani, or Hausa, or Zulu, or Kikuyu, only secondarily.
As an example, when China became a sustained world power, many more Chinese wherever they were and are living in the world, felt proud of being Chinese. Similarly, Japan’s modern economic success has given the Japanese, whether in Los Angeles, Tokyo, New York, or wherever, added dignity and sheer pride in being Japanese. Twenty-first-century Pan African education advocates the same for Africa and Africans, wherever they may be scattered.
So, one of the herculean tasks of the present and near future is to establish Pan African educational strategies wherever African people live, including the United States, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, etc. As identified by the late Abdul Raheem, to African youth,“Pan African education must emphasize that African people are first and foremost Africans, which “creates a sense of solidarity which transcends national boundaries, drawing substance from the struggles of African leaders and their people from all over the continent.”
Ahmed Sekou Toure, former president of Guinea, has said, “… in the fields of history, geography, political economy, in a word everything that is not purely scientific and universal, the educational raw materials should only be drawn from Africa.” And former Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia has said, “As … the purpose of European education is to Europeanize … so the purpose of Pan African education be to Pan Africanize. The process of Pan Africanizing African people must involve the establishment of specific, Pan African institutions to accomplish that feat. It would involve changes in curricula, curricular content, staffing patterns, student bodies, publications, school personnel, administration of schools, examination systems, and the establishment of integrative mechanisms, strategies and procedures that are conducive to school and larger social integration.”
Essentially, Pan African education aims at the integration of the masses of Africans including those in the Diaspora. Those in the Diaspora need not be physically integrated into Africa, but they must be mentally integrated into the plan for Pan African education. Lastly, “A country is as good as its people, and the people are as good as their education.”
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of OurWeekly.