Studying Nkrumah

Kwame Nkrumah giving a speech

In the development of Student Philosophical Conciousness in both colonial & settler colonial contexts, all African students everywhere can find themselves in these 3 types of students described by Kwame Nkrumah. Which one are you?

Lately, I’ve been feeling this ‘personality type’ thing lately. The Feds use these systems a lot, I’m sure. They can be helpful in isolating and articulating probabilities and outcomes. I even developed a travel personality system to help folks planning to travel so they will be able to plan for a great outcome. I use it in my book, The “un”-Official Ghana Travel Guide. I came across another personality type system while reading Consciencism by Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah describes 3 types of students.

Student Type #1
The first is star struck by colonial education as a result of being immersed in it from an early age-they are fully internally indoctrinated by the time they finish a college degree. Liberals, like their patrons, but nothing they will ever do will fundamentally impact any free exercise on the part of their own people. They seem nice though.

Student type #2
The second is a privilege born, European educated elite who views their contact with colonial power as a mark of distinction and, in fact, privilege. They may not be as completely devoid of their own cultural knowledge but greed encompasses their cultural appreciation. The second type helps the enemy as agents of the colonial status quo. These people are literally referred to, by liberals, as sell outs, coons or even thieves. In the States type 2 may come from the Brown Paper Bag society or some similar group. Their status is proscribed and maintained by how well they go against their own people.

Student Type #3
The third student wants to be free. And they may learn or study but they use their tools & power in ways that are more consistent with the acts of a free person. Any knowledge attained is made applicable to living free or relegated to colonial bullshit in the student’s mind. Kwame Nkrumah describes himself as an3rd type. In fact, the reason why he chose to come to America to study was, in fact, to circumvent his own complete recruitment into the Black Brit illusion. He purposely challenged himself not to become fully indoctrinated.

Kwame Nkrumah also outlines the development of student types 1-3. He did not dileneate where student 3 takes off in a tangent from types 1 or 2. I can only speak of my own experiences as a type 3 student. It can happen from a very early age. As a young student I was consciously aware of my choice from age 9-10yrs. I was able to see the 800lb gorilla in the room and h that I would be one of the people who challenged the status quo. In any case, Nkrumah makes a solid case for the identification of these types based on the effects of colonial education. And we are all pretty much subjected to colonial education and the process Nkrumah outlined.

Highlights of the Colonial/Settler Colonial Indoctrination process

  1. Colonialism/Imperialism and neocolonialism has a fundamental effect on the education on the oppressed.
  2. Students are obliged to study according to the Berlin Conference partitions. Countries oppressed by the French study in France. Those oppressed by the British-study in Britain, and so forth. American born students have nowhere to run in America. Our own Cultures have been oppressed and repressed for generations. The strands that remain are literally built into our DNA but many of us have no conciousness of ourselves as African people. So as African people, the students total desire and devotion to the idea of education is confined within a colonial context from before the student even thought to study. The box surrounded them before they even were able to conceive of what they would study and what they may offer the world as a result of the study. This shit is deep.
  3. The effort made on the parts of the students and their families-just to study in a colonial context would make you cry. It’s beyond not being easy, it’s down right torturous. Here in Africa, families would go without basic necessities to ensure school fees are paid. In America, one family could easily top $1million usd in student loans. The difference in those experiences may seem like a lot but the results are eerily similar & both torturous.
  4. Then the student is introduced to European philosophy. Philosophy that may have been more relevant in the times they were compiled. But time. So now after all, the colonial student is internally conflicted by academia’s reverent praise of this old European philosophy which was fragmented from the start compared to the old African systems. Imagine the internal contradictions. Now imagine that person as Minister of Finance, Prime Minister or President. Those contradictions & hypocritical internal anti-African, anti-wholistic, & extremely conservative philosophical fundamentals can infect an entire nation or region. Summary: Babylon has no fruits.
  5. Some students become so immersed in European philosophy that they internalize a false view of their own self and a false view of their own condition. The student can lose their African self in these studies. And even remove themselves-only in their own minds- from the oppressive colonial conditions they actually face.
  6. The philosophy itself, which may have already been fragmented to begin with becomes more so with the academic treatment. Philosophies are facts of history. When given the academic treatment they lose their power, fluidity, relevance and become rigid.

What is the academic treatment? It’s removing the usefulness. Academic treatment is delivering knowledge devoid of functionality. Knowing for knowing sake. The process has a similar effect on the student. The student, people, are agents of history. When students internalize the academic treatment, they then can lose sight of why they even went for study. They shed their own fluidity, their relevance and the relevance of their study diminishes. Their power, if any, becomes a mere extension of the imperialist aims. How? You can’t even study on the university level unless your core connection to community and Cultural traditions have been all but completely severed. And, you are constantly being chided to take the I -as in We out of your studies. You are trained to shoot for some false objectivity whose only objective is to leave African people out of consideration as worthy human beings.

I remember being subjected to a class where the Professor insisted that I was inappropriately judgmental about being counted as a 3/5ths of a person in the US which was a great economic tool according to him and much of the class. That is only one example. Separating yourself from the experiences of African people is a prerequisite learning module for University study in the colonial states. Only when the student has literally lost contact with their Original, wholistic Cultural philosophical systems can the imperialist philosophies be ingrained in their minds. Why do you think the settlers in America kidnapped the children of indigenous Americans and forced them into European education? After being immersed in colonial education from a young age, they then receive a stamp of approval for European university study. It is at this point that the fragmented, vague, irrelevant, conservative, Eurocentric philosophies are internally embraced by the student. The student has now been reliably indoctrinated as an enabler of European hegemony.

The colonialists have provided a soothing balm for the wounds of oppression for its future imperialist enablers. Kwame Nkrumah calls it a wobbly pedestal. From this pedestal the colonial intellectual class sees itself-not in the context of the oppressive conditions of their own people—they see themselves as part of the set apart, special, now accepted as British subjects or French subjects or Americans. They no longer identify at all with their own people. Only as a free thinking person can learning about other cultures truly add value. When you learn as an uncontested colonial subject-the result is that your contributions can hardly be useful to the Nation. When you approach learning from a vantage of free thinking-then anything you learn can be a tool in your offensive & defensive strategy to live as a free person. You can then appreciate other cultures. Only from the vantage of building your case against oppression can any other learning be relevant-or powerful and yield positive results for the people.

We have essentially pompous, mere logical, philosophical statements which string together nicely but so what versus wholistic, relevant, dynamic, functional applicative knowledge and understanding that can contribute to undoing oppression and positive societal development. The former you can get for the low low price at any colonial institution. The latter has to be a conscious choice and effort on the part of the student. There are type combos and changes that can be discussed but Kwame Nkrumah gives us a clear picture of what we’re dealing with and a few different ways of looking at the education scene.

How is this assessment relevant for the students in a settler colony context? African students in America? Can we not comfortably fit into these same 3 categories? Is not the word colonial student easily replaced by settler colonial student? Should we add another category for Revolutionary sounding poverty pimps? Seriously, there are some differences. But the result is the same types of students.

Indoctrination in American settler colonies may actually be more total because the incessant propaganda surrounds us and our cultural ties are existent but are in shreds. Exhibit #10.2million: African women in the States represent one of the most ‘well-educated’ sectors of the population. However, the results of all that student loan supported education? Highest maternal & infant death rates, highest rates of death for top 3 diseases, the lowest paid for the same work, and not least of all-we buy more business suits than all the other women racial sectors …should I continue? Or does somebody, anybody get the point? Our education is only useful if we use it for ourselves, to serve our own interests.

We have faced daunting challenges but we must increase awareness of our own development. Why not take conscious responsibility to even make the youth aware of the possibility of them choosing freedom? Why are the students the last to know what is even happening to them? We’re allowing our intelligence to be mutated with the primary targets in complete unawareness. I say lay it out for the students. Let them participate and face the consequences of their choices with conscious awareness. And earlier is better than later. In America, they have the nerve to send a uniformed policeman with weapons and all to meet our children in preschool as ‘Officer Friendly’. And we wonder why our children are sitting ducks for police brutality in America. Let’s take Conciencism off the shelf and apply the insight Kwame Nkrumah shared.