Thursday, 10 July 2008

Am I Mis-Educated?

After reading this and listening to many of my peers [like someone with a Master's degree but making very pedestrian arguments and observation] or PhD holders failing to come up with workable suggestions to national issues, I think seems all these years I spent in school were to tune me into a mis-educated black young man. So, what is the way out of this quagmire, if I may ask the author. Is there any way, we can correct the situation so that we bring up a younger generation that is not "mis-educated".

Miseducation of the Black race is the real inconvenient truth
by Morris D. C. Komakech

In his masterpiece, How African Minds Think; The Inconvenient Truth (see Saturday Monitor, June 21), Mr. Timothy Kalyegira made stunning observations about the prospects of White and Black races which merits rebuttal.

In the article, Mr. Kalyegira narrated his ordeal of frustration in the ‘90s as he witnessed the dismal performances posted by African intellectuals despite having achieved what one considered quality education from traditional academic powerhouses in Africa and abroad.

He observed that in contrast to the African situation, the dominant character of the White societies, their culture and personalities could be summed up in the terms “insight, imagination, linguistic fluency, enthusiasm, and inspiration, abstract, analytical, curious, logical, scientific, inventive, exacting, and efficient”. He further asserted that the prevalence of these traits is largely responsible for producing quality professionals, products, and services and for inspiring sustainable Western civilisation.

Fundamentally, I’m compelled to gravitate towards the arguments posted by Mr. Kalyegira. However, few virtues about White people were omitted and those are the cultures of honesty and accountability to fellow Whites and their territories.

But like all African intellectuals and those who indulge in analysing Africa’s shortcomings, I believe that Mr. Kalyegira permitted his minds to slip and fall in the same booby trap that has engendered perennial misdiagnosis of Africa’s problems. His agreeing that Africans are inflicted with a sorry trait of ordinariness and subsequent explanations did not meet the benchmarks of an upstream thinker.

This article emphasises that mis-education of the African and subsequent colonisation of the African minds with Western religion are the reasons most Africans act as though they were made of inferior quality and has inspired them to always contribute very little to the world’s overall civilisation.

In this article, I shall examine empirical evidences alluding to mis-education.To better understand the concept of mis-education, one needs to understand the very purpose of education. Any form of education is intended to be liberating its recipient as well as his society and to power transformatory processes.

The Whiteman has realised both of these objectives, thus the wonderful traits that Mr. Kalyegira so articulately recounted. For the African, the Western formatted type of education has proven to be limiting. To better understand these concepts, one needs to appreciate the different pedagogical methodologies such as those inspired by critical social theories, phenominology or otherwise.

Research works by Dr Janice E. Hale-Benson of Institute for the Study of the African-American Child at Wayne State University and Dr Geneva Smitherman of Michigan State University, have provided compelling scientific evidences which affirmed that global injustices, divides and miseries follow patterns that are dictated by the education systems.

The works of these two researchers were cited by Dr Rev. Jeremiah Wrights in his April 27, speech at the Dinner fundraising ceremony of the Detroit NCAAP Branch (You should read it). The works of Dr Janice E Hale-Benson can be found in a book, Black children their Roots, Culture and learning Style, 1986 [Amazon for $18.95].

Both Dr Janice Hale (Educationist) and Dr Smitherman (Linguist) established that White children and Black children learn everything differently for which the learning differences have not been accommodated or integrated in the European or American education systems. These studies led to a realisation that white children have a left brained cognitive object oriented learning style and the entire educational learning system in the US, Europe are designed to meet that learning need.

Scientifically speaking, left brain is logical and analytical. Object-oriented learning means the student learns from an object. Black people do not learn this way, they are right-brained, subject-oriented. What this means is that they are creative and intuitive.

Subject-oriented means they learn from subject (person) not object. That is why oral tradition has remained a formidable source of history for African court jesters. Likewise, Dr Smitherman was able to establish that White and Black children learn languages differently; that’s why we have the Blackman’s English and the Whiteman’s English distinct.

To relate this to our situation, one could comfortably allude that the mediocre performances of African intellectuals are inherent in the nature of the education that is not designed to address their learning needs. The education systems in Africa are inadequate and alien. In other words, in Africa and in Uganda, the so-called educated persons are actually the illiterates because their learning process have been impeded by wrong learning styles that are intended for White brains.

As a consequence, our engineers can only rise to the competency level of mechanics and servicemen, and so are our other professionals who resort to stealing public funds for personal liberation and transformation.

This also explains why in Uganda, the most successful merchants and business people are not the most educated in the White man’s education system, they are mostly drawn from the pool of those who stayed home and had the experience of receiving right brained, subject oriented learning. That is why university graduates are job seekers while the uneducated are job creators and employers. Mis-education is the main paradox of the African mind; the inconvenient truth!

Mr Komakech is an African scholar, social critic and political analyst based in Canada. E-mail:

1 comment:

Christopher said...

To start with I used to admire Mr Kalyegira until he started prophesying doom in the Great Lakes region citing a hitherto unnamed seer. You see, for one to disparage the intellect of most Ugandans, especially belittling their intellectual abilities while at the same time deciding to accept the portends of a soothsayer, is a glaring contradiction.

The subject of which we speak is quite difficult. However, there are several books out there that can easily debunk Mr Kalyegira, both with more critical analysis and empirical evidence. One of these is "The making of Intelligence" Another is "Guns Germs and Steel; a brief history of everybody". But in the immediate aftermath of his article, there were two articles that I thought argued against his position rather well. One, by a well known educator, was especially well written.