CULTURE / HISTORY

History;The Future Of Nigeria

In early September, it was with a heavy heart I signed a petition made by Omei Bongos Ikwue  on change.org to ‘Keep the study of History in Nigerian schools’ . Apparently, the Nigerian government decided to remove history from school curriculum’s for reasons such as- ‘there are neither jobs for graduates of history’, nor ‘sufficient teachers for students of history ’. Furthermore of all their subjects, secondary school students rank Mathematics, English and Biology highly because these subjects are prerequisites for admission into universities and lastly, Students rate history so low because, according to them,

“Society itself does not rate history highly.”

I have always wondered how it’s possible for alleged drug barons to become senators, how convicted criminals become governors and why the Nigerian people are known to have such a short memory especially when compared to societies such as the British, where activities done by people in their teens can hunt them when they seek political office, or members of parliament retire for misappropriating 500 pounds the equivalent of NGN70,000. Ironically, Nigerians complain about their leaders, but the leaders come from the people. Some Leaders from elite backgrounds, others grew up without shoes. Some leaders without a formal education others with PHD’s. What gives?

A people that are not taught to hold their history in esteem, have a short term memory. It is this mental illness that sees disgraced public officials and private citizens blissfully active in society. Governors that destroyed their state comfortably seating in the senate.

‘our people forget’

A people without the knowledge of their past, origin and culture are like a tree without roots. Root are the primary foundation of a tree, they hold a tree when winds come against it and even if you cut a tree down, as long as its roots are unaffected, the tree can spring up again.

HISTORY AND RELEVANCE

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The study of history is one of the most powerful tools to build a national identity, it can also be used to teach lessons on past mistakes as well as nurture qualities that elevate our society. Our history as taught in schools across Nigeria is an absolute disgrace. Till tomorrow, Nigerian teachers tell their students that Mungo Park discovered river Niger, as though all the people that lived in the area for thousands of years came with him on his boat. Our curriculum as it stands is not built to nurture creative minds or critical thinkers, neither is it built to empower the average student. In a world that is becoming more and more globalized, the African child should know his story, his place, encounters and experiences in this global world. THAT’S WERE OUR-STORY COMES IN –‘HISTORY’

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lets start first with looking at Africa the right way up and learning its native name alkebu-lan… this map shows the different kingdoms that existed before the invasion.

Our educational system needs to be overhauled no subject more so than history. Our students should know about empires that existed long before colonization, long before lord Lugard’s consort named this geographic area Nigeria.

Nok-map

nok empire

Nok artwork and architecture from 1000-500 BC

Our children should learn about the NOK civilization the migratory pattern from the Nile valley and the indigenous black African pharaohs that built the pyramids.

migratory patterns from the Nile valley

migratory patterns from the Nile valley

“When the history of Negroland comes to be written in detail, it may be found that the kingdoms lying towards the eastern end of Sudan (classical home of Ancient Ethiopians) were the home of races who inspired, rather than of races who received, the tradition of civilization associated for us with the name of ancient Egypt. For they cover on either side of the Upper Nile between the latitudes of ten degrees and seventeen degrees, territories in which are found monuments more ancient than the oldest Egyptian monuments. If this should prove to be the case and civilized world be forced to recognize in a black people the fount of its original enlightenment, it may happen that we shall have to revise entirely our view of the black races, and regard those who now exist as the decadent representatives of an almost forgotten era, rather than as the embryonic possibility of an era yet to come.”
Lady Lugard/Flora Shaw Lugard, Asa G. Hilliard, III, A Tropical Dependency: An Outline of the Ancient History of the Western Sudan With an Account of the Modern Settlement of Northern Nigeria (1906)

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When a people do not know their story, they are always forced to look outside of themselves to solve their problems a tragedy that has earned Africa the title ‘the wealthy beggar continent’.

ANTS AND DEVELPMENT

Our students should learn about the Songhai empire, latter empires in Mali,Ghana, Kongo, Ethiopia. In doing so students start to see our similarities as opposed to our differences exacerbated by arbitrary national borders drawn to serve the interest of colonial masters aka invaders that gave you the title ‘Nigerian’.The empires of Africa, before colonialism This map of indigenous African empires is not exhaustive. It spans two thousands years from 500 B.C. to 1500 A.D

Ruins of Kumbi Saleh, Capital of the Ghana Empire (9th to 14th century)

Ruins of Kumbi Saleh, Capital of the Ghana Empire (9th to 14th century)

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Our students should learn about the enslavement of their people, the Kings that fought to prevent it and those that enriched themselves from it (fantastic article here by Damola Awoyokun) .With an aim to nurture citizens that are their ‘brother’s keeper’. We complain that leaders consistently sell us out, jeopardizing the interest of the people and betraying our trust, yet we do nothing to create better citizens.

NZINGHA OF ANGOLA--ONE OF AFRICAS GREAT PATRIOTS AND FREEDOM FIGHTERS

NZINGHA OF ANGOLA–ONE OF AFRICA’S GREAT PATRIOTS AND FREEDOM FIGHTERS

Mansa Musa, emperor of Mali, went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324. He is said to have traveled with an entourage of 60,000. Till date he holds the record of being the wealthiest man to traverse the earth

Mansa Musa, emperor of Mali, went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324. He is said to have traveled with an entourage of 60,000. Till date he holds the record of being the wealthiest man to traverse the earth

Through the study of history we can program the mind of our citizens. History is the voice through which society tells its story and sets its aspiration for its citizenry.

Our students should learn about colonization, they should know it by what it really was, an invasion. They should understand invasions, enslavement and colonization interrupted African development it did not start it.

Members of the notorious British Punitive Expedition of 1897

Members of the notorious British Punitive Expedition of 1897 after destroying the palace of the  Oba of Benin

They should learn about Leopold in the Congo,the French in francophone Africa, the genocide by the Germans against the Herero people of Namibia a precursor to the genocide against the Jews.

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German genocide Namibia

They should learn about all our warriors that died defending our empires, people like Asoro n’Iyokuo (the Great Benin Warrior) who held the invading british army at bay for 5 days, defying blazing guns and ploughing maniacally into the enemies midst to deal out death and mutilation among them.

chief Asoro ably defended the spot where the statue now stands He said “no other person dare pass this road unless the Oba”

Asoro n’Iyokuo (the Great Benin Warrior)

They should learn about Queen Nzingha, King Menelik of Ethiopia and his victory over the Italian invaders at the battle of Adwa, shaka Zulu, the politics of Jaja of Opobo, Queen Amina and Yaa Asantewa of Ghana. This thread should be taught with an aim to instill in the minds of our young ones that we were not always a defeated people- that people like them fought for freedom, were brave and were strong.

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Our students should learn about the Biafran war from multiple angles, they should learn about the mistakes on BOTH sides that led to the war. Just maybe if they are aware of the evil that comes with war, people would not be so quick to call for wars in the coming generation and such a devastating tragedy will not repeat itself.

Our students should learn about the history of religion, the role the Pope and the church played in enslaving Africans as well as the Christians (the quakers) that ended it.

Pope Nicholas V issued the papal bull Dum Diversas on 18 June, 1452. It authorized Alfonso V of Portugal to reduce any Saracens (Muslims Moors) and pagans (An advanced person without a religion)

Pope Nicholas V issued the papal bull Dum Diversas on 18 June, 1452. It authorized Alfonso V of Portugal to reduce any Saracens (Muslims Moors) and pagans (An advanced person without a religion)

They should also learn about the enslavement of Africans by Arabs and the Trans-Saharan slave trade.

FB_IMG_1431804505021Our students should learn about the civil rights fight in America, they should understand without that fight, they most likely would not be able to visit, school or live in America .

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Black Women who were Lynched in America More research has revealed there are over 150 documented cases of African American women lynched in America.

It should be understood that the freedoms they enjoy in that part of the world was paid for in the blood, sweat and tears of their enslaved brothers and sisters.

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The first African Americans to go to school with Europeans had to endure scenes like this

Our students should learn about World War 2 and the many Nigerians that fought as part of the allied forces against Hitler.

Our students mind should be opened to see the world for what it is and the part their ancestors have played. In today’s world the ancestors of people that bombed London to the ground can walk in to England without a Visa yet the descendants of those that gave their lives to preserve England queue in lines for Visa’s. This should serve to show that regardless of differences, wars and history people should /can come together for the greater good or simply to preserve their interest.

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Our students need to learn the historical context of money, the evolution of money and the effects of debt and the global market place. Our students should learn about Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba and Steve biko, so the next generation might shift from the political paradigm/ aspiration of seeking power solely to accumulate wealth to one of empowering and lifting our people up.

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Our students should learn that once they step out of Africa they cease to be seen as Yoruba or Hausa they are seen as black and that comes with its own challenges in the world today. They should learn the shared experiences of Africans from Haiti, Brazil to South Africa and be familiar with Nkrumah and Zik’s writings on Pan-Africanisim .

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Without the study of appropriate history, we program a generation to live just for the moment , dishonoring their past and at the detriment of their future. We create infantile minds that can hardly grasp Geo-politics in effect they continuously bicker among themselves on tribal issues while being re-colonized.

Our government focuses on infrastructure without thinking much about cultivating the mind of the population or a long term view or vision for the country and the continent. Yet the wealthiest and most powerful countries are the ones who tap in to the human mind not natural resources. Numerous case studies abound that show the correlation between a societies reverence for its history and its ability to become great, the Japanese,British and the Chinese are prime examples. America revises its history books every couple of years usually tweaking it based on prevailing societal conditions.

Whoever controls the history controls the vision. Whoever controls the images controls your self esteem, self respect and self development.

Knowing all this, it is very disconcerting that the study of history is hinged on job acquisition, this more than anything shows the short shortsightedness of our leadership.

The study of history should be mandatory in schools, it should be comprised of a comprehensive syllabus that spans from primary school to the final year in senior secondary school. In fact the issuance/renewal of the Nigerian passport should be linked to the continuous study of history.To become a British citizen, applicants sit an exam that assesses the applicants knowledge of British history.

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This is important because its not enough to call yourself a citizen of a nation without a knowledge of that nation.

Excerpt from President Buhari’s inauguration speech.

“Furthermore, we as Nigerians must remind ourselves that we are heirs to great civilizations: Shehu Othman Dan fodio’s caliphate, the Kanem Borno Empire, the Oyo Empire, the Benin Empire and King Jaja’s formidable domain. The blood of those great ancestors flow in our veins. What is now required is to build on these legacies, to modernize and uplift Nigeria.”

Even the president knows that to rally a people, you must remind them of who they are , where they have been and what they have overcome. Therein lies the platform from which they launch to greatness.

but

11813441_1028679850505108_4435395680494019622_nCLICK TO SIGN THE PETITION TO KEEP HISTORY IN NIGERIAN SCHOOLS

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48 thoughts on “History;The Future Of Nigeria

  1. I am a walking encyclopedia of the history, ancient and contemporary, of this nation. This was because I studied our HISTORY in Elementary school. I was taught about Bayjidah and the well in the founding of Katsina. I learned about Queen Amina of Zaria, Inikpi of the Igalaland, King Jaja of Opobo, the Benin Empire and the great injustice known in history as the Benin Punitive Expedition, I studied the Kanem-Borno empire with capital at Ngazagamu and its line of rulership that produced the world’s longest line of kings known as the Safawa Dynasty.

    I learned about the Arochukwu long juju, the Aba women riot and the Enugu Coal miners slaughter. They taught us about the Oyo empire and its legislature known as the OYO MESI. We learned about Othman Dan Fodio’s Jihad and his 14 flag bearers, Are Ofonja and how the fulanis came to Ilorin. We learned about King Eyo Honesty of old Calabar, kings Kosoko and Dosumu of Lagos. We learned about Lugard and his band of imperialists in the Royal Niger Company, the history of our Nationalism, establishment of West African Students Union in London by Nigerian students and their influence in the establishment of a campus of the Oxford University in Ibadan against the choice of Legon, in Ghana.

    I am aware that the name Nigeria was coined by the mistress of one of the colonial masters and I know about all the Constitutions leading up to independence and I am aware of the roles played by every individual, ethnic groups, political parties, etc leading to self rule. I know about all the republics we have had details of their developments. I have had in my time 1 prime minister, 8 military rulers, 5 executive presidents, 1 ceremonial president and 1 interim president. I know those who have tried to build this nation and I know those who destroy it.

    I was sad when I learned they don’t teach these anymore. Well, my children know all these because it is their land and they will also teach their children. That’s all I ask of them in return for giving up my dream for them to have theirs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sir i am very jealous and very sad reading your comment…..no one ever taught us any of that. we need living libraries like you to help us the youth…first if you could give us a reading list that would be very helpful…another idea would be a summer school program that could even involve visiting parts of Nigeria..

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for this article , I would be interested in participating if there is any organization or group to push this .Thanks

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  3. Awesome exposition! The idea of destiny is an illusion if we have no idea where we’re coming from. History is constructive when we approach it, not in the spirit of blame or revenge, but with the desire to understand the intercourse of which we are the outcome. Futhermore, to perpetuate the good and correct the wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Prof E H Carr have noted accordingly that HISTORY leads the wise and drags the fool, permit me to say that we are dragged along as fools in Africa because we do not know who we are and where we are coming from as a people.

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  5. I think one of the reasons why History seem not to e thriving is that we teach it in cacophony, we fail to synchronise the relevance of the history to our present day lives and activities so its purely academic and students treat it that way, they only read it to pass. There’s a difference between teaching History in the classroom and teaching it in our day to day culture, the media has a role to play, the entertainment, our movies, even our religious systems, that’s when we can see a capacious change giving rise to camaraderie between the older and younger generation. Thanks for this piece

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Fantastic piece.. I was shocked to hear about this ‘ban’ on history in our schools. While we all focus on the mismanagement of our nations funds and corrupt leadership, this neglect of our heritage and thus education of our children I feel is as big a scandal and tragedy as any amount of billions embezzled.
    It is a sad sad situation..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m happy with this development on the need to let the young one’s understand the importance of history and how it can mould thier future. I strongly recommend history as a compulsory subject in the nigerian educational curriculum

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  8. Thank you so much for this article. There is a desperate need to educate ourselves further and to keep telling these stories over and over again. Please can you recommend books that one can read and share with other like minded individuals. I am in full support of teaching our history in schools, especially authored by us.

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  9. A great piece. I remember my father once told me that any one that dont know where he is coming from does not have any direction. Meaning ‘No history, No future’. History also deals on our traditional values. History as a study is very important.

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  10. Kudos to you on this piece. We have long lost the trail we are meant to pass through and have unknowingly and foolishly (pardon me) diverted all that makes us unique to another’s route. Values are lost all in a blind conquest of the wrong ideology.
    History I must say holds the key to who we are, what we are, where we are and who we become.

    Thank you good sir.

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  11. Brilliant piece. We all have a duty to propagate our history, culture and traditions, particularly for the sake of future generations.
    Interestingly, the pauperised mind gladly embraces and “parrots” the history of foreign lands while neglecting or condemning it’s own.
    The battle ground is the mind and this can be seen by the hordes of Africans that undervalue their language and religious beliefs.
    The author mentioned Japan, Britain and the Chinese. I will like to include Russia, Germany and France. A common denominator among all these countries is Language as well as religion or traditional beliefs.
    Many thanks to the author for reminding us to get our priorities right.

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  12. I think you should partner with some of your colleagues to write a book that contains a comprehensive record of black history for the young Nigerians who are not opportuned to learn history in schools.

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  13. I studied history at the university but don’t have this indept information about racism in Europe. Having read a book” How Europe Underdevelope Africa” , I realised that Blacks actually developed Europe during the slave trade era. But I also want to add that our colonial master build in us that everything foreign was better. That explains why Africans impoverish themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. In fact you have educated us once again concerning our history. History is an integral part of every society and should be thought in schools.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This article is so profound! It has just provides answers to some long-standing questions about the African continent which I’ve always struggled with. A total disregard of our heritage is what distinguishes between the outcome of the colonisation of Africa and Asia. I’ve also always wondered how we can expect to have a strong citizenry when we don’t teach history and civics in schools? Pls send me the reading list and I’m more than happy to be involved in any projects to take this to the next level. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is extremely strange logic…HISTORY is not “liberal arts” quite strange you would categorize the study of history as that….. very strange.. Actually learning to walk is more analogous to learning history of self before proceeding to focus development in ways that positively affect society…..It is quite stupid to copy and paste the idea of development without defining what development should be and why it should be that way and you can only ask the right questions when you know self…. Ill go as fr as saying only an INSANE society produces citizenry that have no knowledge of their history.

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  16. The truth knows no boundaries. A knowledge of one’s history is a knowledge of oneself. If you don’t want to know about yourself what’s the point existing. Great effort keep it up.

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  17. Hello,

    I read this post and I was beyond inspired. It erks me all the time as to why we as a people do not have a NATIONAL identity. This is what makes us so willing, especially in this generation, to accept any other culture aside from ours, if you ask a 6 year old American who he is and what his country stands for, he will tell you without missing a beat. It’s really sad that our nation has an identity crisis, BUT there is hope, it was from a place of deep concern and a desire for a change that spured me on to set up a foundation “THE NEXT GENERATION PROJECT” We are working with young people to rekindle the Nigerian spirit and to re-awaken the love we all have for our nation again, through our history and the true understanding of who we are as a people and what we stand for…. I would really like you to email me so we can talk some more, i was truly inspired by the direction of your work and it’s minds like yours I would love to collaborate with to make our dreams of restoring our identify as a proud, progressive and virtuous people a reality. Thank you.

    P. S
    Aside from setting up a petition to keep history in schools, we need to set up a petition for the overhaul of the Nigerian curriculum as a whole! Il be looking forward to hearing from you…

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  18. Hi Gbadebo,

    I went through your site and was thoroughly impressed by your line of thought, I have a foundation that deals with trying to solve the problems you outlined here and I would really appreciate if you can email me so we can discuss further, I would really love to work with you. (I wrote a long detailed comment previously but it kinda didn’t post) pls il be expecting your email.

    P. S
    I think we need to start a petition for the overhaul of the Nigerian curriculum… Il be looking forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you so much for this article.

    Like

  19. Pingback: History;The Future Of Nigeria (2) | the hopeful nigerian

  20. i aM wOwed, i aM speecHLess, i Am, i aM, i AM . . . i juSt reaLiseD i humbLy (permit me pLiise) & dumBLy knOw nOthinG abouT anYthiNg concerNing mY counTries cuLture, traDitIon & vaLues. so sorrY i’vE beeN cLueLess.
    GREAT expose!

    Like

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