As a matter of fact, we cannot overstate the materiality of Afrocentric humanism in the evolutionary progression of African societies. Moreover, its theoretical ductility ensures that it can be extended to any situational context with relative ease of psychological mobility and ready determination. Simply put, Afrocentric humanism is a tall philosophical Iroko tree with a numerosity of social branches vis-a-vis progressive applications. More importantly, equality, respect for diversity, and humanism, points we have argued elsewhere, characterize the leafy petioles of human socialization in an African context. Given the ethnic heterogeneity of African societies, therefore, it behooves the factories of civic societies, politicians, religious leaders, and policy makers to manufacture packages of liberal policies and practical solutions proportionate with the psychosocial exigencies of pluralism.
Evidently, Diopian anthropology advances a theory in favor of unified inter-culturality of Africa, a humanistic project philosophically and materially similar to the unified continentalization of Kwame Nkrumah. This has serious ramifications for harmonious ethnic collectivization in a given body politic. These affirmative assertions are meant to guarantee stability in African societies. It is also primarily why we reject Ali Mazrui?s thunderously provocative call for nuclear weaponization of Africa as a condition for courting global respect. However, we do strongly believe respect is earned, not demanded or given, via self-actualization and hard work. In other words, you earn respect only when you already have self-respect. There is no other way around this critical observation. It is also the case that collective self-respect in any given plural society comes with packaged questions of unity, a savory ingredient for growth and development.
Nuclear weaponization of Africa is sure to prove problematic if attempts are not quickly made to ensure social cohesion, of which social capital is a branch, takes root in society (Alexis de Tocqueville?s study of colonial American society, covered in ?Democracy in America,? and Glenn Loury?s work are contextually significant). Pakistan is a typical example, although atomic or nuclear arsenalization of a Christian nation can be just as problematic, with the particular case of Christian America and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki constituting a good example. That said, let?s also hastily add that we need to be wary of and even be prepared to extend a skeptical smile to Ali Mazrui, a quicksilver personality, in addition to his sometimes controversial intellectual and exegetical seesawing.
For instance, his performance as an advisor to Idi Amin was an abysmal one. That is, his abject failure to foresee a looming crisis befalling Idi Amin?s Uganda is a case in point. ?If I and other unofficial advisors had succeeded in time in persuading Amin to rally the Acholi behind him and against Obote, Amin would have felt less insecure about the Langi as well. Both groups might have suffered less precisely by being separated within Amin?s fearful imagination,? Mazrui writes in ?Between Development And Decay: Anarchy, Tyranny, And Progress Under Idi Amin? (See also his essay ?Positive Side Of Idi Amin?). That is why we should take his proposed nuclear weaponization of Africa with a grain of salt. Then again, Mazrui, a good writer and brilliant analyst of North-South relations, can sometimes come across as mystifyingly postmodernist and romantically revisionist as Henry Louis Gates, Jr., whom, ironically, he once referred to as a Black Orientalist, apparently, because, among other reservations, Gates? televised series ?Wonders of the African World? had slighted the presence of Islam in the life of Africa.
Yet his own ?The Africans: A Triple Heritage? reads like a revised book version of Gates? televised series! Furthermore, rather than invest in nuclear weaponization of Africa, why don?t we re-channel disposable resources into creative decisions meant for making education in Africa better, stronger, more globally competitive, and more relevant to the stifling challenges of modernity? Again, why don?t we use these disposable resources to improve health services, agricultural activities, and nutrition, to expand pharmacologic research, educational facilities, manufactories, and road networks, or to fight tropical diseases? Apparently, yet again, Mazrui?s ?The African Condition: A Political Diagnosis? does not sufficiently explore practical solutions in a contextual financialization of such an expensive and huge project, the nuclear weaponization of Africa, that is. We may, therefore, want to ask: Should modernizing Africa?s failing educational institutions take a backseat to nuclear weaponization of Africa?
Also, which of the two, nuclear weaponization of Africa and overhauling Africa?s failing educational institutions, should constitute an urgent priority? What about the possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of African-based or home-grown Islamic terrorists like Al-Shabab or Boko Haram? Curiously, Mazrui, a dedicated intellectual who sporadically finds himself clad in the ornate rhetoric of Islamology, failed to raise, let alone address these pertinent questions! Could it possibly have been that his ?The Reith Lectures? presentation, collected in ?The African Condition,? predated the formal formation of Al-Shabab and Boko Haram? Admittedly, nuclear weaponization of Somalia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, or Mali, as examples, may prove hugely problematic for either intra-national socialization or peaceful inter-ethnic cohabitation. Again, unity is acknowledgedly a hard social and political currency to come by, we concede, although we equally need it for growth and development, however hard we work as a society to secure one.
This brings us to the bonds of matrimony between Afrocentric humanism and pedagogy. Teaching institutions have a responsibility to train educators to contain ethnic, religious, ideological, regional, and class biases from the psychological, visual, and aural assimilation of students. Regionalism and the ethnic factor are probably the most important. It?s equally essential that these two are separated from studentship. Once this has been done, subsequent steps must be taken to carry out universal screening of school-going children for possible learning disabilities. For example, reading disabilities such as dyslexia and hyperlexia and other learning deficits such as dyscalculia, namely, difficulties with numeration or counting, should be the primary focus of the universal screening of students before they begin formal schooling. These tie into developmental problems. In other words, untreated or unmanaged developmental disorders in school-going children may hamper a child?s natural intellectual growth years down the line.
What are we driving at? Down syndrome, attention problems, lisping, dysfluency, fetal alcohol syndrome, and poor motor, emotional (tantrum), social skills are some of the important problems whose early uncovering provides grounds for medicalized intervention. Therefore, mothers should give antenatal and postnatal care priority. We therefore argue that our newly proposed educational formula should be a community, one in which the authoritarianism of teacherhood and servility of studentship cease to be a definition of progressive pedagogy and where the larger society plays a significant role in knowledge transmission. The concept ?society? may be a student?s parents, wards (adopted or foster parents), religious institutions, private institutions (local NGOs), orphanages, etc.
However, regarding the relationship between students and teachers, we are not implying social or political equality between teacherhood and studentship as far as the exercise of power in the classroom is concerned. In other words, we are simply calling for the elimination of intimidation, that is, unnecessary power struggles between teacher and student, on the one hand, while simultaneously arguing for a development of rapport between teacher and student in the classroom, on the other hand. Meanwhile, questions related to social negativities and universal miscomprehension about the physiological expression of emotion have been quashed by the scientific work of Dr. Antonio Damasio, one of the world?s leading neuroscientists. Dr. Damasio has discovered a justifiable existence of biological undercurrents flowing through a system of subterranean tubes connecting human rationality and human emotion. This works perfectly into the developmental equation of emotional intelligence.
Having said that, emotion management and emotional labor are two other aspects of emotional intelligence worth exploiting for intellectual and personal development. The three components of emotion management, which are expressive, cognitive, and body, are priceless gifts we should inculcate in students. For that reason, the economics of emotional management should be part of the curriculum of teacher training colleges. Also, modern technology, learning materials, well-equipped science laboratories, physical infrastructure, good drinking water, well-stuffed dispensaries, clean cafeteria and kitchens and dining halls, feeding programs, adequate security services, psychiatrists, counselors, etc., should be available to both teacher-training students as well as to school-going children. Sufficient teacher remuneration is a serious matter governments should look into.
Vigorous pre- and post-security background checks are needed to weed potential pedophiles out of any given pool of qualified applicants for training colleges. Furthermore, post-teacher training postings should be based purely on procedural formalities laid down by the National Service Secretariat rather than on political, class, social, or ethnic backgrounds. Granting students? posting preferences via bribery or sexual favors should be discouraged. Medical reasons may constitute the exception! That is not all, however. There are other important variables at play as well. As a matter of fact, government and the private sector may have to join hands in underwriting continued training of certified teachers in the acquisition of new pedagogical technologies and knowledge as they become available. In fact, pedagogical isolation from the rest of world is not an option for Africa. This is important because the anemometer and wind vane of pedagogy should move in the directional trendiness of educational modernity.
Again, we are not arguing that Africa should uncritically emulate the West or Asia. Ideally, we are merely advancing a theory, that the cultural psychology of Africa should evaluate itself in the critical mirror of Afrocentric situational contexts. The West itself is experiencing sharp declines in educational standards. In fact, many countries in the West have fallen behind Asia in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering to such a degree that the West has got the jitters as a result of it. The point is that the West is not having fun with this seeming intellectual equilibrium at all! Therefore, it comes across as ironic to see the West complain bitterly about the unfairness of international examinations which put many Asian countries (and their students) in the lead of countries doing exceptionally well in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. Now look who is crying afoul of unfairness!
When the West, America for that matter, constructed biased tests (See ?The Bell Curve?) to make African Americans (and black people in general) look intellectually inferior to whites, little did it know (or anticipate) the existential reality of the Law of Karma or of Newton?s Third Law of Motion, which essentially says ?action and reaction are equal but oppositely directed,? coming home to roost. More critically, the late Dr. Amos Wilson, a psychologist, showed how black children, particularly Kikuyu children, beat the rest of the world in reference to IQ tests (See ?The Development Psychology of the Black Child? and ?Awakening the Natural Genius of Black Children?). However, even in America, African-American children are known to outperform other ethnic groups, including whites, on IQ tests. We also do know the intellectual influence of American-American thinkers in the liberal arts, sciences, music industry, etc.
Importantly, the question for educators, policy makers, politicians, and social activists to answer is why African children, continental and diasporic, generally, fail to replicate their outstanding intellectual performance as they age! Should education be all about test taking and schooling? That aside, what is this IQ mirage all about? Is it real? Is it not culturally biased in most, if not all, cases? Does high performance on IQ tests necessarily lead to success in society? Are IQ tests true predictors of intelligence, wisdom, and maturity? By ?maturity? we mean handling complicated issues related to emotional intelligence, motor and social skills, among others. In other words, our educational institutions, parenthetically, should disallow these culturally-biased technologies, mostly Western-derived, to intimidate students.
In theory, therefore, the point is for Africa to design educational models strictly in the best interest of its students, the compass of their emotional abilities and psychological adaptability, considering the pedagogical idiosyncrasies of trained teachers, as well as in exclusive reference to Africa?s pressing needs, cultural particularity, financial strength, and unique place in the world. Pointedly, textbooks and learning manuals designed exclusively for takers of IQ tests demonstrate another interesting fact, that IQ, otherwise ?intelligence,? in Western cultural psychology is partly, if not wholly, book-derived. A corollary question is simply this: Is ?intelligence? innate, environmentally-derived (learned), or a combination of both? These are additional questions educational reformers, sociologists, philosophers, and researchers should attempt to answer!
We shall definitely get into Afrocentric education, but before we get to that stage, let?s conclude this present essay with five benefits of Afrocentric education, points brought to our attention by one of dedicated readers who goes by the name ?Starchild?: 1). Develops African Cultural Consciousness, 2). Creates African Self-Identity, 3). Produces African-Institution Builders, 4). Produces Black Nation Builders, and 5). Empowers Black Students. Let?s move a step further: ?A 2012 report published in the journal ?Child Development? found ?racial pride to be the most powerful factor in protecting children from the sting of discriminatory behavior. It directly and positively related to three out of four academic outcomes?grade-point averages, educational aspirations, and cognitive engagement?and was also related to resilience in the face of discrimination? (See ?5 Benefits Of African-Centered Education,? published in ?Atlantic Black Star,? Dec. 22, 2013).
Here is another one: ?Black nationalism requires that Blacks develop a sense of agency toward fixing the problems within their own communities. Agency eventually leads toward nation building. Agency and nation building involve the intentional and focused attempt to develop African youth to be specifically trained to further develop and ?administrate the state? (that is, control the community). Blacks cannot learn to ?administrate the state? if they are not equipped with attitudes that teach them that they, in fact, should administer and be agents for Black upliftment? (See ?Culture, Power, and Education: The Philosophies And Pedagogy of African Centered Educators?).
Yes, there are those who will say the African-American situation is significantly different from his Black (African) peers in other parts of the Western Hemisphere, in Asia (Iraq, Pakistan, India, Kuwait, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc) and in Africa itself. As a good illustration, Marcus Garvey toured many communities in the Western Hemisphere to acquaint himself with what we shall call ?The Black Condition.? And he made an astonishing discovery: Black (African) people generally scrambled for their livelihood at the bottom of every society they found themselves. More critically, though, conditions between Black (African) people and the rest of the world have not generally improved significantly.
In fact, the multiple award-winning documentary film, ?500 Years Later,? written by Dr. Molefi Kete Asante?s son, Prof. Molefi Kete Asante, Jr., and directed by Owen Alik Shahadah, tells this story: ?Crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, poor education, inferiority complex, low expectations, poverty, corruption, poor health, and underdevelopment plagues people of African descent globally. 500 years later from the onset of slavery and subsequent colonialism, Africans are still struggling for basic freedom. Filmed in five continents, and over twenty countries, ?500 Years Later? engages the retrospective voice, told from the African vantage-point (Wikipedia).? Later, an award-winning sequel, ?Motherland,? written and directed by Owen Alik Shahadah, is described as ?an epic documentary about the African continent from Ancient Egypt to the present. It is an overview of African history and contemporary issues but with the African people at the center of the story. It is one of the first Pan-African features to be made (Wikipedia).?
Let?s watch these educational documentary films to see how far Black (African) people in general have come and how far up the ladder they have to go to catch up with the rest of world. Let?s begin to learn to play catch-up as both documentary films pointedly confirm the notion that the African-American predicament is not as markedly removed from that of his brother or sister in continental Africa. Therefore, we offer a radical transformation of our educational system as part of our proposed system of creative solutions!
We shall return?