As I thought of writing this piece, the song “Spiritual Healing” by legendary Nigerian musician, Innocent Idibia, ceremoniously known as 2Baba, popped up in my head especially the line, “To be civilized, you don’t have to be educated”.
But who said you can’t be educated and civilized? Far from it. But, you can be educated (miseducated) and not civilized.
Once I saw a man, a supposed university don who pontificated that a certain people no matter how qualified should never be entrusted with a certain political office over those of his own ethnic nationality. His only reason, I guessed, was because they do not share the same ethnicity. It was sui generis; he was an academic royal, supposedly exposed but wasn’t bothered about political ideology or manifesto. He was only worried about vain sentiments. Should we still blame illiteracy for such a crass display especially when it was coming from a supposed savant?
People are not born with extremism. People inculcated it in them. Most times the supposed exposed/educated. Dichotomy does not exist because of the plurality or illiterateness of the society; it is a stereotypical/miseducation problem: what we were told about a certain people (tribe or religion), how we look at them and how we treat them. It is not an illiteracy problem.
I have stumbled across some comments on social media and wondered how the commentators learned how to write because their comments were totally unworthy of supposed literates. The malignant spirit of miseducation has caused more harm than the so-called ‘illiteracy’.
There are many miseducated people in our society today who act like they’re more Europeanized than Europeans; who think civilization is deculturization. They have repudiated every fiber of Africanness; from behemothian things like morals and values to simple things like food and clad. These tantrummy ‘American-wannabes’ even flay other Africans for speaking foreign languages with African accent when they themselves are infamously inept to fit into civilization.
Civilization is not deviating from Africanism to Americanism. Preferring western food, accent, fashion, music, movies, names etc. to indigenous African ones is not civilization but obsession with Euro-American culture.
In the pantheon of civility, there is no more towering presence than that of the prestigious values transgenerationally passed on to Africans by their forebears. Those Africans who had their education (traditional education) under the moonlight or at the feet of their parents and elders were pristine humans. They were adepts in literature, medicine, craft, combat and divination. They were spartans whose heroic exploits still reverberate with loud decibels. Yet, some people whose education did not go beyond the four-walls of the classroom, will address them with the derogatories ‘primitive’ and ‘diabolic’. But even in their supposed primitivity and diabolicality, they were cosmopolitans whose modus operandi was based on unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno. But, those who are monomaniacally obsessed with the contraption called miseducation (mistaken by most Africans to mean civilization) have lost every trace of humanity. They have standardized imported ills as the “new cool” all in the name of ”civilization”.
Between the nomadic Fulani boy who by the mobile nature of cattle rearing and the exposure that comes with it, knows that Fouta Djallon highlands is the fons et origo of River Niger, and the poor schoolboy who was deliberately miseducated at school that British explorer, Mungo Park, is the discoverer of River Niger, who is truly learned and civilized? Between the sales boy undergoing the Igbo apprenticeship system with a guaranteed multi-million settlement plan to start up his own business and be a boss upon completion, and the the poor university undergraduate who is paying huge fees with no guarantee that he would be employed by a boss upon graduation, who is being more empowered in the true sense of it? Yet, some so-called “civilized” and “educated” people (educated-illiterates) who base intelligence on grades and acquisition of papers (certificates) treat those other Africans with no western education with disdain when they are the stinking problem with Africa – Those in the government, the bureaucracy and even the civil service are supposedly not illiterates –
These self-acclaimed intelligentsia in their crude display of miseducation, stereotype people with no western education as the troublers and bad eggs in the society; the thugs, the prostitutes, the kidnappers, the armed robbers, the assassins, the drug peddlers, and the lewd elements. The real troublers are the megalomaniacal opportunists grovelling before their masters in the corridors of power. Although naturally endowed upstairs, they have sacrificed their intelligence to psychopathy.
We claim to be enlightened, civilized, exposed and educated, but can’t dare to think beyond the fringes of conventional education or stomach anything against our primary orientation no matter how logical it is. But, we cannot intelligently exhaustively defend why we are adhering to the conventional or think it is always right. We even criticize those (idealists/revolutionists) who dare to try things or make us see things in different way (even though it’s right) rather than the conventional norm (even if the conventional norm is wrong), and label them; “rebels”, “cultural renegades”, “incorrigible iconoclasts”, “nihilists”, and “outlaws”.
At this point, I’ve come to the conclusion that illiteracy is only being over demonized. Miseducation and disorientation are the real monsters of depravity.
But, if we must continue to mention illiteracy as a developmental problem in Africa, then “education” (miseducation) should be top on the ladder.