Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Thatchernomics of our history

The death of Margaret Thatcher threw up a plethora of issues erstwhile lost in the labyrinths in our collective history as Africans. While the world was caught in a choreographed grief system churning out condolences, there is the need for us as Africans to send condolences of a different kind. We have to mourn the dearth and death of African history. The African history is fast becoming history. Just a trip to our public schools would convince one of this anomie and impending cloud of cultural disaster.

      First it was a case of the absence of indigenous history as against the foreign ones in the curriculum. Presently, it is the absence of history as a subject. The number of history teachers has been going down astronomically, as there are fewer public schools which offer history as a course or seem interested to.
      Private schools which supposedly offer more qualitative education to students and better remuneration for teachers are hardly interested in adding history as a course in their curriculum. The reason for this exclusion may not be unconnected to the fact that most see it as a waste of intellectual venture since history can't get you a job. The same fate is suffered by geography (social studies).
     Reasons for this may not be far-fetched. Our educationists believe that (African) history has no place in this fast-paced society of ours driven by science and technology where reality is formed by the media. What good is it to a pupil or student to study a course which is out of place with his current social needs like a dismembered joint? As such, there is no need to equip and maintain museums or heritage sites. There is no demand for the return of artifacts displayed in European museums. Excursions are no longer taken to heritage sites.
    The death of Margaret Thatcher has thrown up the issue of ahistoricity. Upon her demise, several Africans typified this historical dearth through their condolence message, perhaps in a rush to feel politically relevant to their slave masters. The Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan in his statement said that "she would be always remembered by the World for her unique, distinctive and purposeful leadership which restored the pride and respect for her country...." Current South Africa president issued 'heartfelt condolences' to the Thatcher family. Some medis outlets are awash with her achievements hailing her as an iconic feminist figure and the true personification of an 'iron' lady.

    The foregone remarks were either borne out of sheer ignorance or an attempt to appease their white masters, but are certainly nothing short of an insult to Africa's history. For a leader who legitimized the apartheid regime and openly branded the ANC as a terrorist organisation comparing it to the IRA, it is despicable for Africans to show some heartfelt condolences to someone who reinforced class and racial segregation.
However, Thatcher is just a tiny speck in the compendium of historical abortion. We have forgotten our heroes, cultures, religions and ourselves. We have dug up our cultural roots and eaten the seed of unborn generations. We now employ foreign experts to teach us about our cultures, ways and ourselves. One of the effects of colonialism is that it paved the way for European anthropologists to study and give Europe a supremacist position of African cultures and social institutions. Little wonder African women cry of subjugation by menfolk because they don't know about the Amazons of Dahomey, Female-husbands of Ohafia, the Novendu rain-queens or the matriarchy of the Ashantis. Little wonder that 'Ekwensu' and 'Esu' in Igbo and Yoruba Mythologies (respectively) are victims of character assassination which made them evil gods. Why do we still wonder that little is unheard about ancient African writings such as the Nsibidi and Uli because history records us as having no written tradition or system of recording events. Yet, no wonder that some Igbos go about proselytizing that they are descended from the Jews. African history is sunset to the African eyes.

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