Knowledge operates in economic and political contexts. The colonization of Africa extended beyond the mere physical occupation of its territories. It was a comprehensive project of domination that seeped through the African continent’s character, beliefs, and structure. For the colonialists to succeed, they upturned models that required Africans to join the labor machine. These included prior means of employment in sectors that did not benefit them. The education system prevented school leavers from venturing into more technical industries. As long as Africans worked as labourers on colonial plantations or kept records for the white man in clerical offices, it did not matter whether they acquired knowledge that could help their country develop.
Beyond this, the colonial masters ensured that Africans discarded many of their ways through different social creations. The French, in particular, tried to encourage assimilation into French culture. They designed native societies such that Africans believed that imitating the white man was the path to economic and social prosperity. In education, studies were centered on the philosophy and literature of the white man, as still exist in some places till today. Language-wise, foreign tongues gradually displaced local ones in many circles, entrenching themselves as superior.
While research has highlighted a broad range of indignities visited on Africa by white men, the colonial era is well and truly behind us. What exists are its imprints that dominate our societies today. Years after, African education has continued to develop in the model set by Europeans. Knowledge production follows curricula that snub the African context but fatten students on ideals far beyond their shores. Therefore, we hope to look at decolonization and the winded process of achieving it.
Decolonization may be viewed as a reversal of colonial legacies, restoring values to territories once administered by alien overlords. The process of decolonization is necessary because foreign ideals have greatly distorted African society. Across the continent, structures created for colonial administrative and economic purposes impact stability. Nigeria and South Africa are prime examples, given that the former is still nursing wounds from apartheid while the latter is struggling to maintain its national fabric. In both situations, cultural identity determines opportunities available to different people, but what appalls deeply is how Africans peddle western ideologies as the gold standard. Any deviation from that thought pattern and the individual is regarded as backward or unnecessarily contrarian. Put differently, Africans, by their intention, consider colonial perspectives as superior to anything they can develop.
As a result, it has been argued that the first step towards replacing thoughts that better apply to Africa is a refurbishment of its intellectual space. This is especially true of its schools. The African education sector is a primary center of socialization, and it is only best that the problem is addressed there. Since we cannot dismiss the impacts that learning during formative years can have on the worldview of young Africans, the exact substance of that education must be examined. Are Africans imbibing values that truly belong to them? Do they understand their history and traditions? How grounded were they in the demeanor of Africa before colonialism? The answers to these questions will determine the approach to correcting our intellectual trajectory. The need for this stems from the fact that knowledge transfer in schools was designed on a purely Eurocentric basis. To superimpose their culture on Africans, the fabricators painted the continent as backward and in need of a facelift. Even so-called European experts on African studies excluded news of Africa’s achievements in technological advancement. With these undercurrents, Africans learned about foreign leaders and intellectuals, a trend that remains unchanged.
However, reforming its intellectual space means challenging principles that have been normalized. An implication of Eurocentric knowledge transfer is that Africans see themselves as inherently inferior. Here, it is not an active exhibition of racism by foreigners; rather, Africans see themselves as subordinate to the white man. This is the material they have been introduced to in schools, which propagated European wonders and the whites’ campaign of global civilization. During this process, they barely acknowledge the existence of their cultural backgrounds. This makes it such that external narratives are all they can access. It becomes difficult to be intellectually flexible or even accept an African definition of sophistication.
Worse still, because colonial teaching models have spoon-fed their minds, their research inclinations automatically lean in that direction. In effect, they assist the West in learning more about itself. Few people who research keenly on African subjects receive little support and encounter difficulties. Also, there are occasions where the political class has meddled in academia for selfish reasons. They make it such that the intellectual flow is centered only on what their foreign partners consider acceptable. Thus, where the social and academic landscape primarily favours western narratives and politics prevent any meaningful growth in indigenous studies, the task of reformation may well be an uphill one.
Furthermore, decolonization must engage the relevance of indigenous knowledge. While there is a genuine desire to re-establish African thoughts, attention must be paid to the dynamics it will blend into. The colonial project halted the development of African cultural perspectives and elbowed them in favour of foreign ones. An attempt at infusing these ways must consider the practices of the modern world and the thoughts that dominate it. It must acknowledge that Africa in the pre-colonial era is different from the present and, by way of this, adapt to what exists. Not all traditions can now be accepted. All must be reviewed to find a balance between both worlds.
Moreover, decolonization must also recognize the diversity of African cultures. There are multiple models of cultural expressions on the continent, and re-examination has to consider this. Rather than aim to morph learning into a one-size-fits-all dimension, the continent can embrace its diversities and design a structure that reflects them. Analysts have proposed that Africa finds unifying elements in its belief systems and apply them to establishing something different but African. The denial of many indigenous cultures in academic curricula negatively reflects those cultures. If the individuals who are meant to shoulder its values cannot do so because they are barred from representing it at schools and trained to believe it is inferior, that culture will steadily descend into oblivion. Similarly, many insights on Africa will be relegated to the background. Incorporating cultural elements in the schools’ curricula is not an excursion to gain bare political weight but rather a historical preservation imperative.
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Following the preceding, it is important that decolonization efforts are not isolated. They must be done in synergy with the political class, creating a marriage of governance and intellect. The potential outputs of decolonization cannot be overemphasized. The idea proposes a comprehensive shake-up of the system we have naturalized into. It suggests that we do an about-face towards practices still unfamiliar to us, despite being ours by implication of ancestry. This effort is best made in alignment with political objectives such that intellectuals are not riding solo. We must reform African studies to create potential to fix the shabby outcomes of colonial nation-building. Ethnic groups will obtain a more relevant position, and inherent in this are developments that intellectualism must lean on politics to consider.
The concept of decolonization transcends playful fancy. Implementing it requires research across multiple disciplines and into different cultures. This is required to avoid failures in the system as time passes. As stated earlier, colonial influence on education has effectively limited academic interest in African culture, resulting in the availability of few researchers to undertake the thoroughness that the decolonization process demands. In addition, mention must be made of the funding sources for African institutions. Many of these places receive donations from Western organizations, compromising their abilities to make deviant choices; therefore, funding must occupy a premier position in any endeavour to redefine the education sector. If Africa’s knowledge production centers remain tied to foreign purse strings, it can be assumed that the decolonization project is dead on arrival. We should create autonomies, not be dependent on others for our crucial needs. We should not be exporters of raw materials and importers of finished products. We should not use all foreign academies to sponsor our key needs, including giving us money to buy recharge cards to speak to one another—as demeaning as offering ice creams to dogs. Such degrading dependency is nothing but a continuation of imperialist projects that should compel us to turn our legs into those of horses and flee fast enough, so the maxim guns do not kill any of us.
Prof. Falola made these opening remarks at the Lecture on Decolonization at Kenyatta University on March 17, 2022.
Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.
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Poisoning And Witchcraft Accusations In Africa
By Leo Igwe
Witchcraft accusation is a form of death sentence. The accused are often attacked and killed. As this case has illustrated, the accused poison themselves or are poisoned. Alleged witches are forced to drink poisonous concoctions, which lead to their death or health damage. The belief is that this concoction removes, or disables witchcraft powers. The concoction supposedly cleanses suspected witchcraft. The taking of this substance is an exoneration process to establish the guilt and innocence of the accused. Some local medicine men or women administer the concoctions. The recipe for preparing these concoctions is known in many communities. As in this case, alleged witches do not wait to be given the concoctions, they prepare and take the substance themselves.
In many cases, family members pressure the accused to take these substances, to cleanse themselves, to free and exonerate themselves. The belief is that if they took the concoction and died, then they were witches. The concoction could make them vomit, and the belief is that the vomiting helps expunge witchcraft particles and powers. Sometimes, the concoction makes suspected witches hallucinate and begin to make utterances often mistaken as confessions. Most often those forced to take this concoction are elderly women and men who can barely resist the process. Poor people in rural communities, widows, and aging persons living alone with limited social support are usually the target.
This form of witch-hunting is pervasive in the villages. It is difficult to know the number of alleged witches who poison themselves, or are poisoned each year. They would be in their tens of thousands because these poisonous concoctions form part of the witch-hunting accessories. In witch hunting, the motivation is to eliminate the suspected witches, to murder and get rid of them. Cases of alleged witches who were poisoned have been reported not only in Malawi but also in Nigeria, Liberia, and Gambia.
Self-esteem Of The Male Child, A Tool for Peaceful Marriage
By Hope Nwawolo
Self-esteem determines how much you value yourself and believe in your ability to succeed. If you feel confident in being yourself around others, then you likely have high self-esteem. Having high self-esteem is related to increased happiness, relationship satisfaction, and resilience in the face of adversity. Some men went through bullying in childhood or adolescence, grew into men with deflated self-esteem.
In more recent times, the society is veering off the mindset of training only the girl child. This is because the disturbing experiences of ladies, who were trained to be submissive to their untrained husbands, have changed the dynamics of child training. Eyes have opened to realize that if you train your girl child to be an angel in marriage, she might end up with a male child who grew into a monster in the same marriage because he was not trained.
Training has different dimensions and the common one being offered the male child is that of having a caring heart and respect for his wife in future. This is highly commendable but not all encompassing. One aspect of training that is silently being ignored is that of development of self-esteem in the male child.
Nowadays, the girl child is encouraged to look at herself as one who is wonderfully made and should not be trampled by anyone, particularly, the opposite sex. This is helping to build the confidence and self-esteem of many girls who can now stand their ground on who they want to be as they grow older. These girls grow into ladies with confidence, taking on different challenges they come across as they aspire to reach the zenith of their careers. Observably, many successful ladies are able to balance their careers with demands of the home, and succeed. Now, women have their voices and demand to be heard, instead of only being seen as it was the case in the past.
Unfortunately this new trend seems to be breeding a counter reaction in some men. There is the growing tendency for these men to become uncomfortable in the face of the obvious confidence of their wives. Unknowingly, some of the men sabotage their marriages because they fail to value themselves as persons to match their wives’ self-esteem. This is the crux of the article, and for the need to inculcate high self-esteem in the male child to balance the training of the girl child, if and when they come together for marriage, instead of seeing her as a threat because of her self-esteem.
Expectedly, a woman with dignity and high self-esteem, will stand out anywhere and anytime. This has nothing to do with pride and does not even give the woman the right to attempt to usurp authority from the man. In fact, such a woman may go an extra mile to clothe herself with humility, particularly, in the presence of her husband, at home or functions. Unfortunately, many men cannot just manage the success of their wives. They would rather see them as threats. Some expect the women to be seen and not heard, forgetting that silence in dignity can attract attention from those around. Of course, men with high self-esteem, are proud to have such women as their wives.
Furthermore, it is unnecessary, particularly in the present economic hardship where the woman is almost sharing responsibilities with the man. For such a woman with financial independence, the man must be ready to witness some temper flings. And if the general admonition to women is that they should study the men and know when to talk to them, the man should also understand that the woman might be on the wrong side of her temper, due to pressure at home or work, sometimes, rather than seeing her when she is in a bad mood, as insulting him, because of his low self-esteem.
A man with low-esteem, often finds it hard to believe that he is lovable or worthy of being respected, particularly, if he sees the woman as one who is independent to some extent and capable of taking care of herself, and sometimes, the children . Such mindset can suffocate a relationship, as it may become almost impossible to please him. Understandably, the behaviour may not even be reflective of his character but symptoms of an internal struggle, and can indeed be a cause for concern, if left unaddressed. Unfortunately, there are cases of such marriages that went sour.
However, this can be checked in adolescence or teenage years before it gets full-blown in adulthood, especially in marriage. It takes an intentional stance by parents to ensure regular self-expression by the male child, as a way of building his self-esteem to go through the rigours of life. He needs to understand that marriage should be that of partnership and not absolute subjugation of the woman, no matter her level in career and society. The man remains the head of the woman, and the home!
Nwawolo, PhD, writes via
Mohbad: When Love And Light Are Not Enough
By Toyin Falola
I did not want to write about Mohbad until a student of the University of Babcock contacted me, asking me to lend my voice to it. The seventeen-year-old student emailed me in sentences that come with anguish and pain. I was moved by them. Nothing I write can restore the damaged emotions of this teenager, but I am glad to run this errand. The purpose of old age is to restore the broken fabric of society.
A sea of shimmering lights dotting the darkness of an evening sky is not a common sight anywhere in the world. In Lagos, Nigeria, it holds even more significance. It seems only a few months since a peaceful demonstration of young Nigerians was interrupted at the Lekki Tollgate in October 2020. As though the tragedy that would follow was scripted, solemn protesters who held out candlelights in their numbers in memory of fallen comrades were dispersed by live rounds and coercive military actions.
This time around, on the evening of September 21, 2023, the collegiate crowd, candle lights, and stars you saw were not to mourn the youths who had fallen to SARS’ brute force. This was the candlelight procession in honour of Ilerioluwa Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad, a young Afrobeat singer in his prime whose death and the events leading up to it have been controversial.
But these two nights have more than one thing in common. Just like in 2020, the concerned fans of the late music artiste had chosen Muri Okunola as their rendezvous, a park along Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue, Victoria Island, Lagos, which is only a few minutes from the venue of the 2020 #EndSARS demonstration. Also, the candlelight procession featured youths, some with their placards with the inscription: “JusticeforMohbad,” bringing back memories from that fateful night. Just like three years ago, the candlelight procession for Mohbad ended with police action, the police dispersing “unruly protesters” off the scene. At least, the singular observation that some ill-trained, trigger-happy policemen did not kill Mohbad brings some solace. Nevertheless, murder is murder regardless of who pulls the trigger is an aphorism that admits very few exceptions.
At this point, one would imagine how a solemn event like a candlelight procession could have transformed into a protest that would warrant a dispersal of the “unruly crowd” by men of the Nigeria Police. In the defence of the Police Force, dispersing the procession was in the interest of ensuring the safety of lives and properties. For one thing, an exodus of young people with dread, tattoos, exuding palpable deviance is enough danger to the lives and properties in the surrounding communities; talk more of a rampant exodus of youths bearing weapons of mass destruction like naked fire and placards.
This is why the police had to think up their best initiative to nip the danger in the bud—quench the fire, whether candle lights or flickers of agitation. This is not unusual, especially in a country like ours where the primary security company has an unyielding aversion to demonstrations and an uncanny penchant for forceful responses to demonstrations, no matter how peaceful. Pardon me for this segue; it was necessary.
But will the young, towering late musician ever get justice? Would the enemies, frenemies, and evil conspirators he talked about before his death be brought to book? If anything, Ilerioluwa would take solace in the candlelight procession organized to send his soul home to his maker, as this symbolizes what he stood for. Shortly after announcing his departure from his former record label, Marlian Music, Mohbad announced his label titled “Imolenization.” In the Yoruba language, Imole means light or illumination. So, despite having had his light snuffed out in his prime, his soul would journey to the heavens buoyed on by an array of lights and love.
To many young Nigerians, Mohbad was a leading voice on the street. His songs, K.P.K., Feel Good, Peace, and Ronaldo
(https://www.google.com/search?q=K.P.K.%2C+Feel+Good%2C+Peace%2C+and+Ronaldo&rlz=1C5GCEM_enUS1077&oq=K.P.K.%2C+Feel+Good%2C+Peace%2C+and+Ronaldo&gs_lcrp=EgZjaHJvbWUyBggAEEUYOTIHCAEQIRigATIHCAIQIRigATIHCAMQIRigAdIBCDE4MDhqMGo3qAIAsAIA&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:1c3f2f36,vid:wB9Vym8SWmU,st:0), are not merely hits but have become street anthems. For many whose lives revolved around the trenches and suburbs of Lagos, Mohbad was also an emblem of hope. Like most of his contemporaries, Mohbad’s discography showcases deviance, survival, internet fraud, high life, and the never-say-die hustling spirit of the average Nigerian youth.
Mohbad’s music career took a different turn when he joined his former record label, Marlian Music. On the back of the label’s popularity, Mohbad’s stock rose exponentially, even attaining stardom with two successful albums and an E.P. Without dwelling much on what may have gone wrong between the musical art and his label, it was clear that his departure was not well received. In most departures of this kind, bad blood and legal skirmishes are not uncommon.
However, when bad blood brews into assaults and unending threats to life, and parties take laws into their hands rather than ply the legal route, the assailing party would be said to have crossed the line. As the elders would say, a fight is already set in motion when the handshake goes beyond the elbow. Mohbad, upon leaving Marlian Music in 2022, premised his departure on the failure of the label management to remit his music royalties and other entitlements. Months later, the late musician had severally released materials on how his ex-boss, Afeez Fashola, had been after his life. This leads to the question, what more would tilt the suspicion of the police towards a suspect than the declaration of a deceased person before his death?
The events surrounding the death of Mohbad raise many questions. First, could there be any connection between the frenemies he lamented and his death? Why was his burial hurried, even by his kin? Are the police doing a good job of arresting and interrogating prime and remote suspects? Was the government of Lagos right to have exhumed his remains to conduct an autopsy? Going by the Coroner’s System Law of Lagos State, “a report of death shall be made to the office of the Coroner and be subject to post-mortem examination where there is reasonable cause to believe that the cause of death was violent, unnatural, or suspicious”.
Matter-of-factly, even in this cruel world, the death of a 27-year-old is presumably unnatural except where the circumstances reveal otherwise. In Mohbad’s case, the circumstances seem to agree that a post-mortem examination is more than necessary. It becomes even more suspicious when the allegations of hostility, threats to his life, trespass on his person, and unending battles, as lamented by the late musician, are put into context.
Admittedly, the law books teach that suspicion and subjective opinion are not a sufficient basis for proof of facts. Hence, the need for empirical examination will further drive us to the point of certainty, at least for the sake of the deceased, whose life may have been cut short by unnatural forces. Maybe this would also provide context or answers as to why his burial was hurried.
When an unnatural or suspicious death occurs, the police ordinarily conduct a post-mortem examination, interrogate close associates, and scour through correspondence, recent contacts, and perceived enemies. This information becomes even more relevant if the deceased claims to have been bullied, threatened, or attacked.
Mohbad’s death has provoked commentaries and opinions from different quarters. While some have been more cautious in pointing fingers, others have thrown caution to the wind and have demanded the arrest of individuals like Afeez Fashola and Samuel Balogun. One salient issue that must be addressed before this momentum dies down is the need to redefine lost values in light of the infiltration of foreign values. In foreign climes like the United States, it is not unusual for bad blood of this kind to brew into assassinations. A case in mind is that of Tupac Shakur, who was murdered exactly 27 years ago in Nevada, United States 1996. Six months later, Christopher Wallace, Notorious B.I.G., was murdered similarly.
While Mohbad may not have died from gun violence, his death was no less violent, given the circumstances that culminated in his untimely demise. When viewed in light of his industry, we begin to see the impact of foreign elements in the Nigerian music world. A look through the boards shows artists with criminal histories ranging from assault, internet fraud, marijuana abuse, and sexual violence to homicide. It would seem that Nigerian pop artists have not only taken music inspiration from the West but have also taught their dark penchant for vices.
The cause of death might have been speculative, and the range of agitation could also have been built on unsubstantiated emotional outbursts on circumstantial evidence, a little bit shy of mathematical accuracy. Even at that, they have established the undisputed need to chase the issue to the root and also raised a disturbing concern that a lot has been overlooked in our complacency. Unfortunately, the police, in their usual brutes, have dispersed away such voices that would keep them on their toes like in the EndSARS period.
It begs the question that the current continuous show of love and a thousand sessions of candlelight will not fill the societal lacuna that might have occasioned his death or brought about the ugly incidences that built momentum before it. An enabling system has nourished the powers that have pressured Mohbad for months before his death and have continuously caused the demise of many of our fallen heroes, even if they are social stimulators like Mohbad.
To the young Babcock student, let me close as an elder: When someone else dies with similar circumstances, the same love and light will fall along with them. We have seen it continuously in recent history. We have seen brutality on helpless individuals and the government being continuously inconsiderate, but we have not seen an end to the circle. The love and lights are insufficient, but the nation has been too sleepy to fill the void they could not cover. May your fate be different, and may you live past 100 years. Amen. I will come to your campus and speak with you in person, sharing my story of survival as a teenager in the bush.
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