Every culture and tradition in the world had systems of teaching and educating on survival techniques in harsh terrains, imparting crucial knowledge, shaping the minds of its youth and developing their understanding and awareness and so on. These are today called traditional informal educational systems, but they were crucial for our continued existence on the planet.
It was not just for an awareness of our immediate environment, but also taught how past generations survived, inculcated traditional medicinal techniques and technologies, detailed their triumphs, knowledge of other communities around them, they were in no way inferior to Western traditional educational systems.
In most African societies there were age grade societies for male and females, the council of elders, secret societies, traditional written language systems, black smiths, artisans, traders, kinships, kin groups, farmers, traditional medicine men/women, rain-makers, poets, community festivities, masquerades and so on which all served to integrate the individual into society and tie people together. African civilisation was basically destroyed by the European colonisation of Africa.
Today we use the radio, social media TV, mobile phones, seminars, conferences, informal conversations, documentaries, and friendships to informally make us aware of what’s happening around us.
Informal education today in Africa is basically non- existent. The youth now turn to social media, whats app, twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and so on to inform them and rarely receive any input from the larger community except perhaps their nuclear families. Many rarely listen to the radio or read books, (except for some) novels in certain instances.
We are running before we can crawl, putting the cart before the horse, behaving as if our traditional societies were in some way inferior to other peoples; we worship the Westerner, why? In a nutshell one reason is because we have abandoned the very systems which sustained and anchored us! If a man or woman doesn’t value what they have or have had, then they will feel inferior, that’s only natural.
If a people are unaware of what influences their decisions, and how to bring out the best in themselves using the best of what they have, don’t know why they behave the way they do, are unaware of where they’re coming from, lack knowledge of their tradition/culture, then the result is failure whichever way one looks at it.
This is basically the condition of today’s African. Changing this means utilising, developing and updating the traditional educational, cultural systems that we had, because they are still very relevant in some form, for instance survival in harsh terrains, traditional medicines, traditional written language systems and ancient science/technological systems,and using them side by side with modern Western ones that we have now adopted, in order for a smooth transition to modernization and continuous development.
Also governments do not provide enabling environments for people to develop and improve themselves, or provide safety nets for the less fortunate, nor do they even carry out their basic fundamental role, which is to provide basic services for its citizens, facilities, infrastructure and so on.
The question then begs, what are our governments using their revenue for? Granted there are no regulated tax systems in most African countries so governments cannot generate enough income here. Also revenue generating ventures such as pension schemes, research& development, job creation avenues, the private sector/public sector, banking, commerce, industry and so on are not properly developed.
If governments do not provide even the basic services, then chaos, disorder, violence, stagnation, and underdevelopment is the end result. Oil supplies and mineral resources are not “a bottomless well”, to tap from, and people will in turn cut corners where systems fail. it’s high time Africans woke up to this realisation, we will not always have natural resources, so we must be prepared.
We cannot afford to continue to look to saviours outside ourselves, even at an individual level. We must become engineers of our own progress, the captains of our own destiny; we must pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and rebuild our own civilizations as we have done in the past, “this is where development begins”.