What Should We Teach Afrikan Children?
Educating Africans on their History
We cannot do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. However, this is exactly what we are doing with the education of our children. African children, on the continent and evermore in the Diaspora, are taught the European way. This doesn't help us toward the progress we want for our nations. Instead of focusing on building our future, we look up to the West, which at the moment, isn’t in a good position in the first place. We need an education adapted to our needs and to our beings, to our societies and our way of life, not to job markets.
Second, African children need to know the African perspective (not just the magazine). They should learn about African history in fun, entertaining and stimulating ways – singing, role playing, etc. They should also be introduced to African literature and folk tales, to African arts and African sports.
Currently, schools provide students of all ages with an employee skill set only. No one shows them the path to independence, nor teach them anything on how to take care of themselves, how to deal with interpersonal relations, etc. Children are not encouraged to pursue innate out of the box interests. Rather, they are supposed to find interest a particular field of study while in high school after most of their creativity has been bashed out of their heads. Most parents don’t have the time to fill that gap and when they do, a lot of them don’t know what to do or how to do it and many even lack the energy to do so.
Euro centrism and African children
Moreover, our African children suffer even more from that inadequate education because those schools teach euro-centrism, which is questionable if you are European, and destructive if you are African. It gives the child a perception that only Europeans did things worth mentioning, while the focus of ‘Black history’ on slavery and civil rights portray Africans as victims of history.
And the media is not at all helpful. If you turn on the tell-lie-vision, you basically see criminalized African people on the news, African thugs and pimps fronting money, guns and whores and promoting their lifestyle, and cartoons pushing western (mostly American) values. After an overdose of this, if the child hasn’t been convinced to pick up destructive attitudes, he at least is disappointed by his people and this plays on his self-esteem. This is the full scope of the problem. Raising the coming generations in that frame promises nothing good. How can we turn the situation around?
African children and the African Perspective
First of all, we need to acknowledge that the natural curiosity of the child will reveal to him his future passions; it is therefore something to feed and foster instead of discouraging it dismissively. Children also dream of independence (like you may probably still do); it is important to guide them through a gradual acquisition of freedom and the responsibility coming with it. Their creativity should be encouraged instead of beaten down with uniformity, and critical thinking should be practiced so they may develop intellectual independence. And all of this needs to be considered not only by the parents, but also by the teachers and those who elaborate the school programs.
Second, African children need to know the African perspective (not just the magazine). They should learn about African history in fun, entertaining and stimulating ways – singing, role playing, etc. They should also be introduced to African literature and folk tales, to African arts and African sports. This and mastering an African language will make them claim their African heritage proudly. If there is no place dispensing this kind of knowledge around your neighborhood, pull up your sleeves and make one, it’s part of our mission!
Third, over-exposition to tell-lie-vision is never a good thing, but we need to grasp our own media and be conscious of its effect on viewers, especially young ones. Africans can make their own movies, like Nollywood successfully proved it; why not make our own children shows, our own cartoons and our own children movies? (Those who name-drop shows or movies they know in the comments commit themselves to produce as many as they mention. If Kirikou is mentioned, multiply it by 6.) Positive messages are all around, let’s promote them. It will benefit even those without children because it will necessarily improve the attitudes of the people they are meeting. We all aim for the best in life and the best insurance for it is to make the world better for all.
African languages in schools
I have mentioned language, but more has to be said on the subject. Language is the key to a people’s worldview as it is linked to their history and their lifestyles, their experience and their identity. To teach the child the languages linked to his heritage, or at least his/her continent, is to reinforce his pride of his African roots. Sometimes, parents in the wilderness/Diaspora neglect the African language to favour the European language that will get the children employed. This foolishness needs to stop. You can’t resume the job of the colonizer after you celebrated independence. Teach the children Africa, whether they are born and raised in the West Indies, North America, Europe, or even Asia or Oceania.
Sometimes, parents in the wilderness/Diaspora neglect the African language to favour the European language that will get the children employed. This foolishness needs to stop.
In the end, it’s not about preparing children for the future; it’s about preparing them to make the future. Strong children will ensure a strong African community tomorrow – which doesn’t relieve us from the duty of creating one today. We might need some African schools or centers to accomplish some of these goals; if so, let’s make them. I feel it should be part of our legacy to have provided future generations with ways to fulfill themselves better than the materialist money hunt.
I Lex is a young Ras hailing from West Africa and living in Ottawa, Canada, studying translation and linguistics because he “knows that the key to over standing the trap lies in language”. This article was originally published in TAP ISSUE 3