Afrikan Children and the Miseducation System

Afrikan Children and the Miseducation System

It is typically agreed upon in Black/Afrikan colonies throughout so called america that the education/miseducation system is at minimum, a complete disaster when it comes to our Black babies and their wellbeing. Our babies being suspended and expelled from preschools, armed pigs occupying the halls of middle and high schools, the hyper-sexualization of young women through dress code policy, mush and milk passed off as food, and the lack of basic educational resources like textbooks, desks, or even teachers has been well documented, discussed, and deplored. When properly analyzed, one can conclude that these conditions, which plague Black/Afrikan schools across the country, are not coincidental, but on par with the euro-american’s modus operandi: genocide.

Not only are our babies taught to admire rapist slave owners and bloodthirsty settler-colonialist, but they are force fed an interpretation of history, mathematics, and science that completely omits any African contribution to human development. When our existence is no longer completely avoidable, we are framed as integrationist minded beggars, whose freedom dreams were tethered to sitting next to whites at school, in movies, and on toilets— a mockery and heinous distortion of the essence of our struggle for human rights. Africans become a part of the european experience, rather than the base to which the cracker has built his dystopian wonderland.

The euro-american education model is designed to instill in our babies at a very young age the idea that the world is white, that their history began when whites showed up, and their success is contingent on proximity to whiteness. In chess terms, the cracker has Blacks/Afrikans in “check”, but the mate is to come, when we have been completely divorced from Africa and her dispersed children, and continue to believe the lies concocted to justify our misery. This is the goal of any colonial project, and its effects on the global Black colonies has been clear. The euro-american education system we are subjected to has a tendency to compartmentalize aspects of life, which could obscure the fact that the cracker’s schools are but one of the many genocidal tentacles used to miseducate, distort, and decimate our People. The mainstream news media and its approved music and pop culture, predatory and neglectful medical practices, hyper incarceration and environmental sabotage are but a few mechanisms that feed into or reinforce Afrikan underdevelopment, colonial dependence, and subsequent extermination.

Education for the Afrikan has never been one of individualism or isolation, but one of communal tradition and collective activities. The individual growth, development, and education of the youth was always cultivated within a social context.

Yoruba children’s education stresses economic and psychological independence, but not social independence. The child learns to respect the bonds of kinship, to perform economic activities, to watch out for his own interests, to make decisions for himself. From the beginning of imitative play, there is a gradual transition to the adult activities that the child will perform throughout the rest of his life. There is much reliance on proverbs to inculcate various beliefs. For example, the Fanti proverb: ‘Se amma wo nyenko entwa akron a wo so irrentwa du,’ meaning, ‘if you do not allow your neighbor to have nine you will not have ten.” This was to instill the spirit of cooperation.

George B.N Ayittey, Indigenous African Institutions

In many Indigenous African societies, some of which still prosper today despite the bestial violence of colonialism, relied on a variety of pedagogical methods outside of written literature. Proverbs, oracles, storytelling and music were used to teach their children. Through being ingrained into the society at large, children were taught a sense of collectivity, responsibility, and belonging. To again reference Ayittey,

“The child’s family played the most important role in informal education. For the more specialized form of education, however, age-groups, craft guilds, and secret societies provided training. Such skills as medicinal healing, blacksmithing, goldsmithing, pottery, basketry, and trading were taught by guilds or relatives. Around the ages of six and seven, informal education included storytelling, mental arithmetic, community songs and dances, learning the names of various birds and animals, the identification of poisonous snakes, local plants and trees, and how to run and climb swiftly when pursued by dangerous animals. Child training also included knowing and associating with members of one’s age group.”

Another example George Ayittey provides is the Baka people, native to Cameroon, who have developed highly sophisticated systems of education based on adapting to a hostile rainforest. The “120 inches of annual rain, elusive animals, and poisonous vegetation” display a seemingly inhospitable environment. “Both plants and animals are constantly evolving new defenses to survive. An evolutionary battleground”. The Baka children learn very early how to weaponize the forest by locating and preparing poison to paralyze fish, extracting lethal paste from seeds to tip arrows, and identifying hundreds of species and vegetation. This knowledge is passed on through familial structures and specialized formations such as craft guilds, age-groups, and secret societies as Ayittey articulated.

Africans have, as shown above, always viewed education as a very means of survival, to be fitted to the present terrain and material conditions, with the goal of equipping the youth with the necessary tools to observe, analyze, intervene and act upon their environment. An all encompassing, ever evolving, dynamic process we must return to.

Our present ideas on education reflect the carnage colonialism has inflicted on our people. We still educate our children through informal institutions, but in a colonial context, this education tends to be subjected to the colonizing force. Our children are increasingly bombarded with techniques and politics that will make them more acceptable by euro-American standards, even under the guise of diversity and “unapologetic blackness”.

Unlike our traditional pedagogic practices, the cracker’s education model hyper-focuses on the individual, devoid of a social context or responsibility. The compartmentalization of mind, body, spirit within the individual is detrimental to a population with such deep roots to connectivity, rhythm, and expression. Any remnants of creativity or autonomy possessed by students is stripped and replaced with compliance and control. Demonstrated by thousands of years of African development, education should seek to teach our youth how to think, as opposed to what to think.

The empire’s education system today, in its many forms, is essentially inescapable. It will not be outrun or ignored, but must be countered with a revolutionary re-education which grows out of the environment and “the most rational use of its material and social resources” as Walter Rodney maintains.

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Shane Williams is a student, preschool teacher, and organizer for People First Collective based in Michigan and a member of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party. Follow and support at @peoplefirst.collective on Instagram.