From the Temples of Egypt to Emperor Haile Selassie's Pan-African University: a short history of African Education
This article represents an attempt at a general history of African education from ancient times to the modern day efforts made at institutionalizing 'Pan-African' education (Marah 1989). As all general history, emphasis is placed on sweeping, Pan-African experiences of African people in Africa and the United States of America; such an effort necessarily leaves out parochial or particularized interests or subsets of African people's education. This general historical treatment of African people's education, as far-reaching as it is, has its own merits; it allows us to see Africa from a global perspective and it affirms that African people's educations have not always been in the hands of Arabs, Europeans, and Americans; it substantiates further that African people themselves have always had unabated interests in their own educations, from the temples' of Egypt to modern day popularized educational systems. Furthermore, this Pan-African treatment of African people's education could motivate a 'few' scholars and students to examine how and where their own peculiar interests in African people's education fit .into the longer picture. Lastly, as nations begin to gather into larger and larger economic and political units (U.S.A., Mexico, and Canada; China, Hong Kong and Macao; United Western Europe, etc.), African people must also (begin to) see themselves from a Pan-African 'perspective; this is why this attempt is not without merits.
From a Pan-African perspective, African people's education could be said to have gone through seven major stages: 1) Education in the Egyptian Temples; 2) Tribal or Traditional Education; 3) Islamic Education; 4) European Missionary and Colonial Education; 5) Colonial Educational Adaptation imported from Europe and America; 6) Neo- Colonial education from Europe and America (1940's-1970's); 7) African Nationalists on African Education (1950's-1990's); and 8) The attempts to institutionalize Pan-African education, which has not yet been accomplished. We now turn to a 'brief description of each of these stages and argue for the institutionalization of Pan-African education
1) African Education in the Temples of Egypt
If Europeans and white Americans begin the history of 'their' education in Greece and Rome (Thompson, 1963), African people's educational history must begin with Egypt (Weiser, 1988); (Bernal 1996: 448); (Hilliard, 1995), and Ethiopia (Hansberry 1960: 357- 387). To begin from the 'beginning', Hansberry (1960: 365) tells us that
...when Didodorus Siculus was traveling in
Egypt in the first century before the
Christian era, he was informed by 'envoys
from Ethiopia' that it was in their country and
among their remote ancestors that mankind
first learned to practice the arts, to create
laws, and to render worship to the gods; it
was also from their country, the envoys
contended, that ancient Egypt's oldest
cultures, earliest civilized peoples, and most
ancient kings were derived. ...It is true
that long after the 'glory that was Greece' and the
'grandeur that was Rome' were no more, it
was still widely believed in learned circles that
it was the Ethiopians of remote antiquity
who laid the foundations upon which all
subsequent civilizations were built. ...
'Ethiopia was the earliest established country on
earth and the Ethiopians were the first
to introduce the worship of the gods and to
It is of further interest to note that Akhenaton, the Egyptian (Aton Devotee), was a black man that embodied monotheism, a monotheism now attributed to Christianity and Islam (Rogers, 1972: 59). Akhenaton's poem, "Hymn to the Sun" remains a classic, in terms of its singular devotion to the praise of his one and only God. We take a few lines from that masterpiece:
Thy dawning is beautiful in the horizon
of the sky,
O Living Aton, beginning of Life!
When thou risest in the Eastern horizon,
Thou fillest every land with thy beauty.
Thou art beautiful, great, glittering, high
above every land,
Thy rays, they encompass the Lands, even all
that thou hast made.
How manifold are thy works!
They are hidden from us.
a sole God, whose powers no other possesseth
Thou didst create the earth according to
While thou wast alone. (Walbank and Taylor, 1942: 43)
Jackson (1970: 111) tells us that Akhenaton's belief in Atonism was 'crushed' in Egypt but was never obliterated, and that Moses received his theological education at Heliopolis, where he became a Boswell of Atonism. This Egyptian education of only the best few has been dubbed the 'Egyptian Mystery System' (Weiser, 1988). In that Egyptian Mystery System
initiation into the Highest Knowledge was not
open to just anyone (much like the Ph.D.
of today), not even to any Egyptian priests.
Before they were ready for the Highest
Initiation, priests had to fulfill a number
of tasks and pass a number of tests to be allowed
to go through to the next level. Those who
did not pass the test with flying colors the first
time were denied once and for all the chance
to try to fulfill the entrance requirements for
higher levels. If the candidate was a stranger
to the mysteries, an extremely strict inquiry
would first be made into the candidate's
ancestry, and ... the college of magicians would
convene ... to determine admission or
rejection. The Greek philosophers- Thales,
Pythagoras, Plato and Eudoxus- were the best
known foreign scholars to successfully
pass the various tests. Pythagoras was
assigned the prophet Sonchis as his mentor.
...Plato was trained for fourteen years ....
the brilliant teachings of Plato, who had an
enormous influence on the development of
Christian philosophy, originated in the sacred
places of Memphis, the city of Menes, and
in Heliopolis, the city of the Sun. (XXI, XXII)
Even though this concept of the Egyptian mystery system has been vigorously challenged by Mary Lefkovitz (1996), in her Not Out of Africa, a more able scholar, in terms of competitive plausibility, Bernal (1996: 92), states that
the issue of whether there were "colleges"
or "universities" at Memphis and other
Egyptian cities depends on definition. It
is known that at least since the Old Kingdom c.
3000 B.C. there was an elaborate bureaucracy
of specialized scribes, doctors, and
magicians and that from the Middle Kingdom
c. 2000 there was an institution called
'House of Life.' Egyptologists have been
divided on how to interpret this institution.
Some like Alan Gardiner describe it merely
as 'scriptorium,' a place of restricted entry
where some papyri were kept. Others have
concluded that it was a kind of university.
For instance, the Egyptologist P. Derchain
maintained that by the first period of Persian
rule 525-404 B.c. these institutions contained
papyri on subjects ranging from medicine,
astronomy, mathematics, myths, embalming, to
geography, etc. .. .in a word one ought to
find there the complete totality of all the
philosophical and scientific knowledge of the
Egyptians.' The subject is clearly moot but
equally clearly, Lefkovitz is wrong to claim
that the eighteenth century Afrocentrists'
descriptions of "Egyptian Colleges" are based
solely on fiction.
Another scholar (Budge, 1923: CCXI) substantiates that the Egyptian belief system recognized the fundamentals of today's western Christianity, and produced numerous commandments, the Negative Confessions, that could have informed the Ten Commandments in the Christian Bible. In The Book of the Dead, for an instance, the individual accounted for his actions in life by reciting that he had "not committed theft; slain man or woman; acted deceitfully; uttered falsehood; uttered evil words; set (his) mouth in motion (against any man); defiled the wife of a man; committed sin against purity; made (himself) deaf to the words of right and truth; committed acts of impurity; neither (had he) lain with men; increased (his) wealth, except such things as (justify) (his) own possessions", etc., etc. (367-371). Thus, in The Book of the Dead, we see African people from Egypt and the Sudan (Budge, 1923: CCXI) grappling with some of our salient concerns today, especially those about homosexuality and the exploitation of man by man.
John G. Jackson (1985: 115-116) asserts in his Christianity Before Christ that "the Egyptian influence on Orthodox Christianity is far more profound than most people realize. The whole Christian Bible was derived from the sacred books of Egypt, such as: The Book of the Dead, The Pyramid Text, and the Books of Thoth. "
Ancient Egyptian education also included the study of Logic, Mathematics, Science, Architecture and Medicine (van Sertima, 1982). Although the Egyptian masses were illiterate, there were scholars, scientists, theologians, and agricultural scientists, to produce enough food, administer justice, and conduct research on vital issues of the times; there were enough specialists to conduct diplomacy, lead armies of conquest and for defense, build monuments, keep records, and create exquisite poems and other works of art.
The Mary Lefkowitzs of the Western world would want us to believe that Africa never gave anything to Greece or Rome, but more able scholars, scientists, linguists, and historians (Allman, 1989; 1990); Bernal (1987; 1996); Wallbank and Taylor (1942); Wilson and Cann (1992); Jackson (1970); Hansberry and Johnson (1964), etc., have enough on record to put Mary Lefkowitz to shame.
2) Traditional African Education
Williams (1971) admirably describes the destruction of African civilizations with the advent of the Hyksos or Desert Kings into ancient Egypt that led to the dispersal of a number of African peoples; this destruction of African civilizations continued with the Moroccans or Moors who attacked Songhai, the last Sudanic empire i n West Africa in the 1490s. As if these were not enough, the Arabic and Atlantic slave trades gave the final blows to the last remaining kingdoms of the Asante, Dahomey, Bornu, Kano, and Benin, among others. Colonization and Neo-colonialism completed the subjugation and the inferiorization of the sons and daughters of Africa. These attempts at African subjugation, however, did not lead Africans to devalue or terminate the education of their tribal members; each African clan, tribe, or nation continued to educate its people so that they remained loyal and productive in their respective domains. Traditional African educational systems are as diverse as Africa itself, but all traditional African educational systems aimed to transmit their basic cultural values that held the group together and imparted skills that continued the group's progress and adaptation to the changing socio-economic environment of the particular tribe or nation.
Several African and non-Africans have written extensively on traditional African educational systems (Kenyatta, 1965; Marah, 1989; 1987; Smith, 1940; Nyerere, 1969; Nkrumah, 1971; Camara, 1954; Boateng, 1983; Brickman, 1963; Mumford, 1963;) etc. All these attest that Africans were not without educational systems before the advent of the Europeans and Arabs in the 1400's and the 6th and 7th centuries, respectively. Traditional African educational systems may not have been 'formalized' as that of European and Islamic systems, but they could not be discounted as nonessential or non-existent. As a matter of record, no group, European, Arabic or Native American is without an educational system. Each group must confront the problems of socialization, the transmission of skills, ideas, values, norms, concepts, aphorisms, etc., to the tribal or group members; they must attempt to explain what their origins were, how to conduct the business of governance, how to dispense Law and Justice and obtain pertinent loyalties to the group, if the group is ever to survive or propagate itself.
According to Kenyatta (1965), the traditional Kikuyu education was a lifelong process, from childhood until death; it emphasized communalism, group cohesion, loyalty, how to care for our families, and the expectation of care for the aged; it included direct instruction and apprenticeship, and every effort was made to ensure success or minimize failure. The individual within the group was part of an age group that went through specific rites of passage. They underwent initiations that inculcated leadership skills, sexual roles, the proper relationships between men and women, adult responsibilities, tribal psychology, and had the opportunity to share and value group experience that instilled democratic process in government, crime, and punishment.
Boateng (1983; Smith, 1940) describe the functions of folktales in traditional African education; Orature or Oral Literature- fables, myths and legends, proverbs, secret societies or 'Bush' schools all contributed to the education of the African prior to Islam and Christianity. The stories and fables were used to entertain, instruct, and inculcate respect for elders, honesty, " ...to be absolutely straightforward, to cultivate all the virtues that go to make an honest man, to fulfill (one's) duties toward God, ...parents, ...superiors and ... neighbors" (Camara, 1954: 128-129).
By the time this socialization was 'complete' the African was a fruitful member of his particular clan, tribe of society. The above does not claim that traditional African societies were Utopias, but embedded within each group were explicit and implicit rules, regulations, practices, and traditions that prevented the group from becoming disintegrated; divorces were rare, failures in the system were prevented through remediation, fair play, and the numerous opportunities that were provided to redeem one's self.
Traditional African educational systems used their own languages, folktales, histories, legends, religions, and the intimate knowledge of their environments to perpetuate themselves, and prepared them to confront alien cultures creatively and selectively. Boateng (1983: 335-336) avers that, "while a wholesale revival of the past is unrealistic and unacceptable ... a total rejection of the (traditional) African heritage will leave African societies in a vacuum that can only be filled with confusion, loss of identity, and a total break in intergenerational communication. The essential goal of traditional education is still admirable and remains challenging."
3) Islamic Education in Africa
Islamic education in Africa is closely linked with the spread of Islam by Arabic traders and conquerors who in the seventh and eighth centuries, converted North, East, and West Africans. In Eastern Africa, Arabs settled on the Coast and became intermediaries between Africans and Chinese and Indians, with whom they traded. In West Africa, Arabs 'controlled' the trans-Sahara trade, and at the same time taught Africans the Arabic language, script, and Islam. African Kings, Mansa Musa and Askia Mohammed, converted to Islam, pilgrim aged to Mecca, desired to make Muslims out of their subjects, and institutionalized Islamic law and education. Under Mansa Musa, for an example, the Mali Empire's Timbuktu and other cities became Islamic leaning centers; mosques were constructed and Islam was officially entrenched. In Songhay, "A Dia King named Kossoi (Kos-so-ee) was converted to Islam in 1009, probably at the request of the Moslem merchants of Gao ... the fact that the Songhay Chiefs were Moslem helped to speed up the spread of Islam through the Western Sudan. From the time of Dia Kossoi, it became a tradition that only Moslems were to occupy the throne in Songhay" (Chu and Skinner, 1965: 84). Islamic education, both theology and medicine, were advanced in Timbuktu before Europeans began to advance in those fields.
We are told that during Askia's reign, the city of Timbuktu became famous as a center for learning in Africa. Medical operations were performed here that were not attempted in Europe until 200 years later. A historian who wrote at the time said: 'At Timbuktu sit numerous doctors, judges, and clerks, all are appointed by and receive good salaries from the King. More profit is made from book trade than from any other line of business'. The large cities, fine buildings and well-administered government were proof of the advanced civilization of Songhai.(Rosenfeld and Geller, 1979: 220)
In African societies where Islam dominated, traditional African Animism was depreciated; those Africans who refused to be Islamized were, and even up to date, derogatorily referred to as Kaffirs.
The Africans who converted to the Moslem
religion took over other aspects of Islamic
culture as well. They learned how to write
Arabic and this provided them with a means of
keeping records and developing a literature.
It also led to the growth of a class of
educated men who could help run a stable
government. Eventually a new language arose,
Swahili, which was a mixture of Arabic and
Bantu languages. Swahili today is one of the
most important languages in Africa. (224)
Thus, through Islam, millions of Africans who were made literate, practiced and continue to practice Islamic rituals, ceremonies, mannerisms in prayer, and submit, willingly or unwillingly to Islamic law. Since Islam does not 'separate' religion from state, Islamic laws have become state laws in countries like Sudan and other less secularized states.
Though Islamic education was superimposed on traditional African education, some of the cultural practices of Moslems were readily accepted by African converts. "Islam permitted the marrying of four women at the same time, and Africans ... often (follow) the custom of marrying more than one woman. Other Islamic ideas such as divine Kingship, the absolute power of the ruler and the importance of the family and the community corresponded to African ideas and customs" (223). Furthermore, Islamic teachers and clerics were not highly different from the African masses; they often dressed like their African converts or students, are what the Africans ate, and often looked like the Africans themselves! It did not take a lot of cultural transformation for the African to be a Moslem. The Moslem teacher often lived, directly, among the Africans; in his compound, the students came to him, sat around a 'big' fire in the mornings and in the evenings, to read, recite, and memorize parts of the Koran, written on slates the students themselves made or could afford. After the lessons, the students go directly to their traditional tasks in agriculture, herding, trading, or fishing. The most 'brilliant' African students later became Islamic teachers among their own people, who looked like them.
In Camara Laye's The Dark Child, for an instance, his father maintained his guiding spirit, the Black snake, remained a Moslem, practiced polygamy, was a goldsmith with apprentices, and continued to practice his traditional African hospitality to all that came his way, biologically related or not. Camara Laye's uncle in Conakry, also a Moslem, maintained his traditional African culture of having several wives, showing hospitality, and following the language, attitudes, and aphorisms of his people.
When Camara went to western schools, however, he observed a cultural dissonance between his Islamic and traditional African educational practices with those of the western paradigm. In the western paradigm, the older scholars were tormentors and exploiters, not enablers, counselors, or exhorters; the western 'school' was extremely individualistic; he concluded that one would have to be greatly in need of knowledge to submit oneself to the ordeals involved in western education. Camara himself was to be later culturally, emotionally, and financially challenged, as a student in France, as he reports in his A Dream of Africa (1968).
Nonetheless, as western secularism spreads like 'wildfire', extreme Sharia laws will have to be modified. Furthermore, the supposed belief that "Islam makes no distinction between people on the basis of color; that all Moslems are considered brothers, whether black or white" (Blyden, 1994: 223), will too have to be re-evaluated in light of the 'actual' experiences of the black African masses in and out of Islam (Lewis; 1970).
4) Missionary and Colonial Education in Africa
If Islamic education was 'lenient' with traditional or tribal African cultures, European missionaries in Africa were openly antagonistic to African animism, rituals, polygamy, marriage patterns, 'tribal' African names, dances, epidermis, languages, attire, or the lack thereof.
European missionaries and colonialists worked hand in hand to convert and civilize the African. The first western schools on the west coast of Africa, at the Cape Coast or Elmina Castles, were religious schools. Colonialists and missionaries needed African Catechists and clerks, translators and bookkeepers to aid them in their respective enterprises. Traditional African customs, values, languages, and names were viewed as too barbarous to be of legitimate interests, topics of study or worthy of empathy. "When a mission begins new work in a new district in Africa it begins with a school... The primary object of the education given is to enable each person to learn for himself and understand the record, the character and the teaching of Jesus and the chief doctrines of historical Christianity" (Quoted in Temu, 1972: 140).
Though the various colonial powers are said to have followed their individual paradigms, it cannot be refuted that they all aimed to make Europeans out of the Africans in language, mannerisms, religion, tastes in music, dance, dress, entertainment, marriage, in the concept of beauty and family; the curriculum of western schools in Africa were rarely modified to suit salient African characteristics. The British implemented 'indirect rule', but this was not at the expense of the English language or law. If the African wanted to 'make it', he had to take a London degree or one from another accepted metropolis, or their substitutes in Africa.
Mumford (1970: 47) states that the African students at William Panty School in Senegal were "French in all but the color of their skin. They read intelligently and are eager to discuss, not only the best known writings in French literature, but even the works of lesser-known French philosophers. The graduate of the William Panty school is so fine a product that the education there given seems a complete vindication of French colonial theory and practice in Africa."
Mazrui (1997: 8) states that, generally, "The African university was conceived primarily as a transmission belt of high Western culture, rather than as a workshop for the transfer of high Western skills."
African universities became nurseries for
nurturing a westernized black intellectual
aristocracy. Graduates of Ibadan, Dakar, and
Makerere acquired Western social tastes
more readily than Western organizational
skills. They joined my generation of Africansthe
lost generation of the colonial period. They
embraced the new gospel of respecting
Westernization, and the new gospel was not
only born but expanded. The one change
which did not take place was a transformation
in the role of the university. The university
became a place for perpetuating and expanding
the Westernized elite, creating new
members for it. The ghost of intellectual
dependency continue to haunt the whole gamut
of African academia. The semi-secular gospel
of Westernization continues to hold
African mental freedom hostage. (Ibid. 9)
Though the western university has not yet 'touched' the majority of Africans, it has continued to produce a few African intellectuals that have not quite been the equals of their western counterparts. When, by the 1920's, an articulate group of educated West Africans began to 'intimidate' the colonialists and missionaries by claiming that the education they were receiving was inappropriate for their aspirations, Educational Adaptation, borrowed from the Southern States of the United States, was recommended as more appropriate for the African natives on the African continent. If educational adaptation was working so effectively at Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes in Virginia and Alabama, where ex-African slaves were being taught not to agitate, but to 'Cast their buckets in agriculture', masonry, and domestic science,(Booker T. Washington 1963), why not take that same system to the African continent, to teach the Natives there also, so they too cultivated friendly relationships with their colonial masters; what had worked so admirably with Blacks in the United States must also on the Natives on the African continent (Berman, 1972: 99-112; King, 1969: 659-677).
5) Educational Adaptation: Another form of Colonial Education for African People
A number of African and non-African writers have examined the concept of 'Educational Adaptation' (Azikiwe, 1934: 143-151; King, 1970: 16-30; Berman, 1972: 99-112; 1977: 71-85; Mungazi, 1989: 468-477; Marah, 1987: 460-481; 1989: 83-104).
Educational adaptation, on the surface, seems to be an easily understood concept, but upon closer examination, it could prove a complex phenomenon. At the outset, educational adaptation conveys that educational institutions, as they should, must adapt to the social, cultural, political, and economic zeitgeist of the people they serve. Such a stance can hardly be refuted only if it were the people themselves who are the prime movers of the philosophy or concept. In the case of Africa, however, it was the colonist who recommended the type of education Africans and African peoples in the Diaspora should receive. (Marah, 1989: 83)
"It," Educational Adaptation or Industrial Education, "conceives the African as better adapted to industrial and agricultural pursuits... In other words, so long as the African would not seek complete social, political, and economic equality with the western world he is deemed a good fellow" (Azikiwe, 1963: 146). To the Europeans and Euro-Americans, African people were mentally inferior and could be socially, politically, and economically irresponsible, even if they were given the same type of education that the Europeans themselves obtained. The mental capacity of the Africans went only so far, and beyond a certain point, they could no longer profit from complex mental demands; like children, even adult Africans could imbibe only so much academic materials; to make them responsible and productive citizens, however, they must be made dexterous and Christianized, both in Africa and the United States. "Schools such as the Jeanes School in Kenya, the Malingali School in Tanganyika, Fort Hare in South Africa, Achirnota in Ghana, and Bo Government School in Sierra Leone were built around the concept of educational adaptation" Marah, 1987:460). The 'famous' Bantu educational concept in the then Apartheid South Africa was educational adaptation at the grandest scale (Hunt Davis, Jr. 1977: 83-112).
Mungazi (1987: 468,469) states that educational adaptation, in the then white ruled Rhodesia, was implemented to "serve the political purposes of the colonial government, not to promote the development of the African"; that the object was "to train the colonized as laborers" and "to bind more closely the ties between the school and tribal life." Furthermore, its object was " ... to train the Africans to function effectively as laborers in order to meet the needs of the growing industries" (469).
Why, was it not Booker T. Washington himself, in his famous Atlanta Exposition speech, who had orated that "In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress?" (Washington, 1986:221-222). He went on to assure the Euro-Americans that "As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sick-bed of your mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in defense of yours, interlacing our industrial, commercial, civil, and religious lives with yours in a way that shall make the interests of both races one" (221). He had previously told his African-American brethren to 'cast down' their buckets where they were--"Cast (their buckets) down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded" (219); shouldn't he have said, 'by whom we are oppressed'?
If African-Americans were being asked to be friendly to their 'internal' colonizers, shouldn't Africans on the continent be also asked to be so, to both the white settlers in Kenya, the then Rhodesia, and the then apartheid South Africa?
The European colonizers 'sincerely' believed, they could not have done otherwise, that the Africans must be educated differently, from the Euro-Americans and the Europeans in Africa; they questioned whether the African people were educable beyond a certain point only they could, for sure, determine. Educational adaptation was a "policy designed to serve solely the political and socioeconomic interests of the colonial governrnent(s)" (Mungazi, 1989:476) that did not want, and rightly so, uppity Africans, liberally educated to orate, explicate, hold their own anywhere, and condemn the contradictions between the colonizers and the colonized (Memmi, 1991). The closer the Africans were kept to their native traditions in their Bantustans, the farther away there would be the possibility of cultural contact and therefore conflict between them and their oppressors.
Educational Adaptation assumed two major things about Africans: (a) Africans are intellectually inferior, and (b) Africans, whether intellectually inferior or not (for such a thing is difficult to demonstrate), should not receive the same type or level of education as that of the European and European-Americans, whose presumed intellectual superiority might thereby be questioned or even shattered. For the enslavers and colonizers of African people, at all possible cost, the African must be kept at an arm's length educationally, culturally, socially, residentially, sexually, as well as militarily; but at the same time, the African must be given a minimum of Western education, so as to enable him to continue being the 'drawer of water and the hewer of wood' for his colonial masters, their wives and children, both in Africa and elsewhere.
Nonetheless, a number of educated African people in the United States and in Africa were able to see through this intellectual 'mask', so that even before the 1960s, the so-called Africa's decade, they began to be more adamant about an African education that would be more appropriate for African aspirations for economic, political, and technological development; the gesticulations about African universities in the 1920s became louder demands for an education for mass development.
To be sure, Africans had not totally embraced educational adaptation, for they easily discerned that such an education kept them at the lower and lowest levels of the colonial administrative structures and civil societies, and even relegated them to mostly manual labor and other agricultural pursuits; they could see that the European, who was liberally educated, was the master or Bwana and he, the African, remained at the European's beck and call; he, the African, could be a messenger, not a District officer, an Assistant Medical Director, but not a full Medical director. Africans wanted the education the colonial master possessed; they wanted Honors degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, and the other prestigious western universities. Indeed, to have tailored a specific kind of education for the Africans was an insult to the African personality. As early as the late 1800s, James Africanus Horton (1969) had advocated a West African University in which the Classics would be an integral part of the curriculum. By the 1940s, European and American Liberal Arts educational paradigms were transplanted at a number of key African universities, such as Ibadan, Legon, Makerere, Fourah Bay College, and others (Ashby, 1964). By this time, however, West Europeans were no longer the only main players in African education; the United States' corporations, Ivy League Universities, foundations and some political and academic leaders began to be ideologically and financially interested in African education.
6) The New American Interests in African Education, 1940s-1980s
By the 1940s, even the most ardent colonialist must have felt a 'new wave' from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The Atlantic Charter had promised that individual countries determine the type of government under which they wished to live. The United Nation's Charter had spoken about Human Rights; India and a number of African nations were becoming more and more emboldened about obtaining their freedoms; the post-World War II economic boom encouraged European colonialists to invest more in the education of their African colonies. Eric Ashby (1964) describes the British educational 'importations' to their African colonies from the 1920s to the 1950s; especially after World War II, British academic, social, psychological expectations and standards found themselves on African University campuses in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and others. There was stress put on maintaining academic standards as those at Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham. As Ashby remarks, "This preoccupation with uniform and high standards (was) a distinctive feature of British higher education" (36). The French too were not going to be outdone in this process of exporting their academic standards to their own colonies (Mumford, 1970).
The United States, the world's most powerful nation after World War II, was also not going to be left out in this new attempt to capture the African mind; within the zeitgeist of anti-colonialism in the 1940s, the United States was not going to sit back and allow Marxism to capture the African mind and economies. When African nations obtained their freedoms, they should be free to trade with any country of their choice; it was better therefore to educate Africans to be sympathetic to the American paradigm of education.
We think that Edward H. Berman (1979: 146-179) admirably captures the zeitgeist that 'propelled' the United States to be actively interested in African education from the 1940s to the 1970s. Even though America had had long interests in African education, as evidenced in the educational adaptation literature, from the 1940s to the 1970s, U.S. corporations, academics, foundations, top, middle, and lower level American universities began to take a more renewed interest in various aspects of African education. Berman continues with this American interest in African education with the beginning of the death of 'colonialism' in Africa, in particular. As the colonial hegemony of Britain, France, Portugal, and others were being questioned immediately after World War II, a vacuum was being created for the United States to step in. "By 1945, it was obvious to all but the most recalcitrant colonialist that it was only a matter of time before the British, French and Dutch colonial empires were dismantled"(146). As these colonial powers were being 'destooled', the then U.S.S.R. and the United States were becoming the two major contending powers for world domination.
In this new scramble for the African mind after World War II, the United States was not going to simply stand by as she had done in the 1884-1885 Berlin Conference, that officially Balkanized Africa; the United States was determined, this time around, to compete for African territories that would soon gain their freedoms from their soon-to-be former colonizers. The then U.S.S.R. must not be permitted to have a foothold in at least the key African countries, those that were fairly wealthy, large, and strategically located. Thus, Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, the then Belgium Congo, Angola, Kenya, Ghana (former Gold Coast), and Somalia, were not to fall into the hands of the Communists, Chinese or Russian.
Berman (146) contends "that the major United States foundations- Ford, Carnegie and Rockefeller- ... played important roles in furthering American foreign policy objectives in Africa, Asia and Latin America since 1945... to bind the newly independent African nations to the values, and institutions to American interests and socio-political values". The corporations had the funds and friends in higher places in the U.S. government to attract and support African students and academics to study in prestigious American Universities, such as Columbia, Chicago, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and others. These African 'students' would then be inducted into American social science research paradigms, that they would have to take with them into their respective universities, departments, colleges, and classrooms. "This African group (would) serve(ed) as the bridge between traditional society and the institutionalization of a capitalist system that benefits a small indigenous class and overseas interests" (147).
If these African elites were made to think like the major leaders of U.S. corporations and businesses, American political- economic interests would have been well served. After all, "the resources which the United States needs are not located in Europe, but are in the underdeveloped areas of the world" (149-150). Those raw materials must not be left for the Communists to control; the American capitalist system must be transported into Africa and other 'Third World' countries, to counteract the type of Command Economy that the then U.S.S.R. pursued, and was offering to African countries as an alternative to the American model.
The contestants in African education were therefore communists (for example, Patrice Lumumba University in the former U.S.S.R.) and the capitalists, with each vying for the intellectual, ideological, and, by extension, the educational, psycho-social, and economic hegemony over Africa. This hegemonic" .. . ideology was hardly designed with the best interests of the developing nations in mind"(152). What was uppermost in the American mind was the domination of the African mind- teachers, academic administrators, teacher educators, and social science researchers that would espouse the values of capitalism as much more superior to the 'African' and the Marxist paradigms. The American paradigm advocated "that change in the newly independent African nations must be evolutionary rather than revolutionary" (153).
Like the advocates of educational adaptation of the Booker T. Washington's school of thought, the new American interests in African education from the 1940s to the 1970s did not want educational systems in Africa that would reject western capitalism or status- quo, but an Africa that should embrace capitalism, democracy, evolutionary change, and other western ways of viewing the world and the marketplace. Western academic and political leaders were therefore "concerned about the rise to power in the underdeveloped world of leaders who might deny American corporate access to the sources of raw materials, of who might raise prices to such high levels as to make the extraction of these raw materials unprofitable"(153).
The key African countries of "Nigeria, Zaire (The Democratic Republic of the Congo), and Ethiopia"(153) could be targeted for inclusion into the U.S. Capitalistic- democratic world system, "to enable a generation of Africans to accept the superiority of the western- oriented, democratic- capitalist development model over its socialist counterpart"(154). Through American type of educational system and financial support, American ideology and value systems could be implanted in African minds, and therefore a favorable change in their political outlook and behavior.
Foundation programs in Africa involved the
creation of lead universities in areas
considered important to the United States.
Foundation personnel identified existing
African institutions which possessed trusted
and politically astute indigenous leadership,
a minimal number of qualified professionals
in key departments, an assured level of
governmental support, the rudiments of an
administrative infrastructure, and a general
institutional willingness to adhere to the
broad policy guidelines of the donor
Personnel in the foundations' New York offices
assumed responsibility for the overall
planning and implementation of university
policies, and the Ford and Rockefeller
foundations supported field offices to coordinate
activities on a daily basis. New York
personnel were dispatched to these local offices
where they worked closely with their
indigenous academic and administrative
counterparts. Frequently, they spent periods
ranging from one to three years as members or
heads of academic departments, as deans,
and as heads of or advisors to key administrative
units within the universities.(155-156)
Whitaker (1988: 65) also tells as that the
... first U. S. big commitment for development in Africa was a hefty $225- million Independence gift to Nigeria in 1961. The innocence of those early days, and the relaxed spirit of giving and receiving, is reflected in the remarks of Nigeria's first head of state, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, in 1962, when he wrote: 'we welcome aid whether in the form of foreign investment, loan or grant. So long as this assistance is given in a spirit of genuine desire to make life happier for people, we would gladly accept and welcome it'. That first grant to Nigeria went for capital investment in roads, water supplies, and education. Three new universities, Ahmadu Bello in the north, the University of Nigeria at Nsukka in the east, and Ife in the west were started at that time in collaboration with American land-grant colleges on which they were modeled, including Kansas State, Michigan State, and Colorado. Other similar programs with close U,S. friends, Liberia and Ethiopia, as well as with Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, and Zaire followed. In Ghana, an early favorite, the United States supported World Bank involvement in the massive Volta Dam and hydroelectric plant and guaranteed the U.S. investment (by Kaiser Aluminum) in the nearby Valco aluminum smelter.
Of perhaps no less importance was that American foundations concentrated on producing 'pertinent' African social scientists, public administrators, and teacher trainers that would further enhance American point of view. The lead universities in Africa that were supported by the United States included Haile Selassie I University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Njala University College of Sierra Leone; "the 8-4-4 system of education in Kenya has more in common with the American approach to education than many Kenyans realize"(Mazrui, 1997: 11). Thus, "the Nigerian Institute of Social Research ... ", the East African Institute of Social Research in Uganda and the Institute of Development in Kenya became active organs for the study of African social, economic and political problems that should advance the American and West European paradigms of thought "claimed to be value-free"(Berman, 1979 : 160, 162).
In the field of teacher education, in 1960,
Columbia University's Teachers College
received the first of several substantial
grants from Carnegie for a cooperative
Afro-Anglo-American program in teacher education.
The purpose of the program was to train African
teacher-educators at Teachers College,
to prepare Americans desirous of teaching
in Africa at Teachers College and at the
University of London's Institute of Education,
and to allow Teachers College, and by
extension, United States pedagogical principles
and values to gain entry into the evolving
network of teacher-training institutions in
previously British Africa, ... A Carnegie-sponsored
meeting in London in 1960, attended by
representatives of Teachers College,
the British Colonial Office, the Carnegie
Corporation, and colleges or universities in
Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Rhodesia and
Nyasaland, and Uganda, assured that the role
of the Carnegie Corporation in African education
would be significant for the foreseeable
future. (166, 167)
African students were recruited and sponsored to study at elite American universities, and were sent back to Africa to teach, using the American paradigm, within certain "intellectual parameters", intellectual framework, "which would make them sympathetic to capitalist development and the efforts of the United States"(170); in addition to this, of course, were the thousands and thousands of American Peace Corps Volunteers that 'inundated' Africa in the 1960s and the 1970s.
It must now suffice to conclude this section by reiterating that American interests in African Education from the 1940's to the 1970's, and even President Clinton's twelve day visit to Africa in early 1998 (Marah, 1998: 13A) were all attempts to capture the African mind, for the cultural, political, and socio-economic hegemonic position of the United States, to ensure the implementation of the capitalist model on African soil and in African minds; to create a "technocratically-oriented elites with social-science competencies which could be applied to the alleviation of the problems of underdevelopment"(Berman, 1979: 160).
Even though what must be good for the West does not have to be necessarily bad for Africa, it seems clear that American interests were of primary considerations; and they were primary and exigent enough that the United States was willing to expend 'large' sums of money to support African universities, send large numbers of Peace Corps into numerous African countries, and court particular types of African students and leaders that they could rely on. Furthermore, those African countries that did not have much to offer the United States economically and strategically were not as actively courted as, say, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, and the former Zaire.
By the 1960s, however, African nationalists were also adamant about the type of education they wanted for their respective countries, as well as continentally; it is that issue that we now turn to in the section that follows.
7) African Nationalists on African Education
The African nationalists from the 1950s to the 1990s were not unfamiliar with the colonial, traditional, or Islamic educational systems and their impact on African societies. Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Mr. Sekou Toure, Patrice Lumumba, Sedar Senghor, Jomo Kenyatta, Arap Moi, Dr. Kamusu Banda, etc., etc. were all products of colonial and traditional African educational systems. Their knowledge and experiences of various educational systems, coupled with their desires for nation-building and Pan-African development, gave them peculiar insights into African education. They knew that colonial education had not developed or integrated Africa.
Patrice Lumumba (1962: 106), for an example, states that the education that should be given to the Congolese people "should be an amalgamation of Western and African civilizations, without any of their decadent elements. The decadent elements of Western culture that the educated Africans 'imbibed' included the aping of Europeans and the emphasis put on the outward elements of Western materialism, individualism, and the so- called 'correct behavior'"(106), for which they went into extreme trouble and expense to show or 'prove' that they too had been civilized or evolved from their African barbarism, into Europeans. These 'evolved' Africans married and recreated like their European masters, but treated their wives as servants. These educated Congolese adopted the worst from the west and the worst from their traditional African cultures. Lumumba urged that African women be respected and treated with honor and love. Mr. Lumumba might have been hot-tempered and naive, but he was a product of the zeitgeist of the 1960s and of the Belgium colonial educational system that denounced Africans as barbaric and saw them as not yet quite evolved to the European standards, in all aspects.
Nkrumah (1970) asserted that western education in Africa 'indoctrinated' Africans to internalize that they (the Africans) had no history that was worth talking about or teaching. Even though he himself had been well educated under the British and American systems, he carne to see those systems as anachronistic for his nationalistic and Pan- African schemes. The British and the American systems taught the African that he was inferior; both of these western systems 'denationalized' the African and insulted his African personality. In this paradigm, the African was the European's underdeveloped brother who needed to be protected and directed until he became a carbon copy of the elder European brother. The elder European brother's history, literature, music, parliamentary system, science, concept of beauty, and femininity were the ones that mattered. According to Nkrumah,
Our pattern of education has been aligned
hitherto to the demands of British examination
councils. Above all, it was formulated and
administered by an alien administration
desirous of extending its dominant ideas and
thought processes to us.
We were trained to be inferior copies of
Englishmen, caricatures to be laughed at with
our pretensions to British bourgeois gentility,
our grammatical faultiness and distorted
standards betraying us at every turn. We
were neither fish nor fowl. We were denied the
knowledge of our African past and informed
that we had no present. What future could
there be for us? We were taught to regard
our culture and traditions as barbarous and
primitive. Our text-books were English text-books,
telling us about English history,
English geography, English ways of living,
English customs, English ideas, English
Julius Mwalirnu Nyerere (1968: 44-75), in his "Education for Self-Reliance" observed that
The education provided by the colonial government
in the two countries (Tanganyika and
Zanzibar) (that) form(ed) Tanzania had a
different purpose. It was not designed to
prepare young people for the service of their
own country; instead it was motivated by a
desire to inculcate the values of the colonial
society and to train individuals for the
service of the colonial state. ...the (colonial)
state's interest in education ... stemmed from
the need for local clerks and junior officials;
on top of that, various religious groups were
interested in spreading literacy and other
education as part of their evangelical work. (46)
Colonial education, according to Nyerere, was not only "inadequate", but was also "inappropriate for the new state"(47) of Tanzania, which needed to develop 'rapidly', under African socialism, in which self-reliance, family, hospitality, expectation of care, etc. were to be enhanced, while man's inhumanity to man, rigid individualism, naked capitalism, and the exploitation of man by man were to be abated. Nyerere espoused a mass education that involved adults, women, and rural Africans that politically informed an attitude of mind conducive to the best from the west and the best from traditional African cultures, not "the individualistic instincts of mankind, instead of his cooperative instincts"; not one that emphasized "the possession of individual material wealth being the major criterion of social merit and worth"(47), but one rooted in humanism and communalism (Nyerere, 1972: 198).
Mr. Nyerere 'concluded' that essay with the observation
The education provided by Tanzania for the
students of Tanzania must serve the purposes
of Tanzania. It must encourage growth of the
socialist values we aspire to. It must
encourage the development of a proud,
independent and free citizenry which relies upon
itself for its own development, and which knows
the advantages and the problems of cooperation.
It must ensure that the educated know
themselves to be an integral part of the
nation and recognize the responsibility
to give greater service the greater the
opportunities they have had. This is not
only a matter of school organization and
Social values are formed by family, school,
and society, in other words, by the total
environment in which a child develops. But
it is no use our educational system stressing
values and knowledge appropriate to the
past or to the citizens in other countries; it is
wrong if it even contributes to the continuation
of those inequalities and privileges which
still exist in our society because of our inheritance.(74)
In terms of the role of the African university, Mr. Nyerere (1968: 182, 183) believed that this institution of higher education should not be "divorced from its society"; even though the university should "seek the truth," it must not do so at the expense of its other responsibilities, especially in a developing society like Tanzania (182).
In fact, a university in a developing society
must put the emphasis of its work on subjects
of immediate moment to the nation in which
it exists, and it must be committed to the
people of that nation and their humanistic
goals. This is central to its existence; and it is
this fact that justifies the heavy expenditure
of resources on this one aspect of national
life and development. Its research, and
the energies of its staff in particular, must be
freely offered to the community, and they must be
Applied research, however, is only one
aspect of university work. The dissemination of
knowledge to undergraduates and other members
of society is equally important. But it is
not simply facts which must be taught.
Students must be helped to think scientifically;
they must be taught to analyze problems
objectively, and to apply the facts they have
learned- or which they know exist- to the
problems which they will face in the future. For
when a society is in the process of rapid
change- which is a definition of a developing
society- it is no use giving students the
answers to today's problems. These are useful
mainly as a training ground; the real worth
of the university education will show itself
much later when these same men and women
have to cope with problems which are as
Amilcar Cabral, the Afro-Marxist revolutionary of Portuguese Guinea-Bissau in West Africa (Stephanie Urdang, 1985: 119-139), recognized that the fight to liberate Guinea-Bissau from Portuguese colonialism unearthed several contradictions within Guinea-Bissauian society. After getting rid of the Portuguese, Guinea-Bissau would still have contradictions in the existence of antagonistic classes, ethnicities, religions, cultures (the traditional and the modem), and between the races. Cabral's revolution was against all forms of exploitation, the one by the Portuguese as well as those within the modern and traditional African societies themselves.
To minimize the contradictions in Guinean society, such as the traditional exploitation of women, intra-racism within the modern sector, sexism in both the traditional and modern sectors, and 'tribalism', Mr. Cabral's African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) utilized the country's educational institutions, the military, women's organizations, and rural politics. His party promulgated specific laws against forced marriages, polygamy, wife beatings and others that addressed divorce, legitimacy of children, common law marriages and questions about women in the military.
In the area of education, the schools were integrated (boys and girls to learn together); the school curriculum and school government were to be critically examined with respect to sexism and male dominance. For example, school governments should reflect both sexes in numbers and leadership positions; curriculum content that discriminated against female students were to be critically examined, questioned and debated; the curriculum was to be more relevant in addressing the basic contradictions within the 'liberated' society.
Cabral's party addressed the fundamental obstacles that prevented Guinean women from being full-fledged citizens. His regime accomplished much for African women by utilizing educational institutions, the military, women's organizations, curriculum content and the law. Amilcar Cabral, a trained agronomist, Marxist, revolutionary was assassinated in 1973, but Guinea-Bissau became independent in 1974. During Portuguese colonialism from 1885-1974, the Portuguese educated but very few Africans, and a small group of Malattoes, Assimilados, ('Black' Portuguese), who had adopted European manners, customs and outlook. A more relevant education was needed to de-colonize the Guinean (African) mind.
The issues of relevance, the Africanization of the teaching staff, teacher and science education, manpower development, mass education, and the study of African cultures in African schools became 'hot' topics of debates (bones of contention) for the African nationalists of the 1960s. How should Africans be educated, now that they were politically free? What of academic standards? How were the African nationalists to accomplish their nation-building 'projects' without qualified African personnel? Foreign teachers from the U.S.A, Britain, France, the then U.S.S.R., and elsewhere, could help, but Africans themselves would finally have to man their own schools, design courses to be taught, determine content and standards, and train and educate Africans to be Africans, not Europeanized Africans. The Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon was "charged with the responsibility for organizing courses in African Studies- Sociology, History, African Literature, Musicology, Dance and Drama ... for first year students of all disciplines" (Arhin, 1992: 2). Other 'Institutes of African Studies' were established on the continent, but the issue of publications, textbooks, expertise, and commitment to 'teaching' could not be taken for granted.
The large number of teachers needed could not be quickly produced without a decline in standards. Now that independence had been obtained, other avenues of employment for African graduates were opened in government, business, the military and the police more than ever before. Now that these African university graduates could become managers, District Officers, principles of high schools, lecturers, professors, top level civil servants, ambassadors, United Nations' officials, or foreign students in western universities, there was loss of prestige for African teachers.
At the same time, each independent African nation began to build its own national university, to politically socialize its 'new' citizens into Kenyans, Ghanaians, Sierra Leoneans, Zambians, or Guineans. The proliferation of universities on the African continent from the 1960s to the 1990s Balkanized Africa culturally, educationally, economically, politically. The 'regional' universities at Senegal, Uganda, and Sierra Leone lost their attractiveness for Nigerians, Ghanaians, Guineans, Kenyans, Tanzanians, and Ivorians, now that those citizens had their own national universities. Dr. Africanus Horton's proposals for a West African University in 1868 did not materialize when African nations became independence in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, or the 1990s, nor had Emperor Haile Selassie's Pan-African University (Selassie, 1963: 281-291) been established; Kenneth Kaunda (1966: 98) states that "At all costs, our young men must be educated to see Africa whole ... no greater disservice could be done to the African cause than the implanting in young minds of seeds of suspicion of other states based upon matters of historical rivalry which must be buried forever. "
Unfortunately, those 'historical rivalries' were, by the 1990s, raising their ugly heads in Rwanda and Burundi, Somalia and Liberia, Ethiopia and Eretria, and the 'Universal Primary Education' that was desired has nowhere been achieved. Africa's international economic position from the late 1980s to the 1990s was deplorable (The World Bank, 1997: 108-109). With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Western and American interests in African economics and education took a nose-dive. " ... Western donors" got "bored by university needs ... university causes" in Africa. "The days of James S. Coleman supporting the social sciences in East Africa on behalf of the Rockefeller foundation, year in year out, seem to be well and truly over" (Mazrui, 1997: 15). Even when "the United States poured money into programs for agriculture, education, and infrastructure, (in the 1960s and the 1970s), the people grew poorer and poorer and the leaders got richer and richer" (Whitaker, 1985: 64). With rapid population growth in several African countries from the 1960s to the 1990s, more stress was put on the national resources that curtailed the mass education of Africans. In Kenya, "where education (had) represented the road out of poverty, increasing numbers of parents cannot afford to send their children to school. Many schools tripled their fees" between 1983 and 1998 (Buckley, 1998: 19A). "Many university scholars have (had) to scrounge around for additional livelihoods" (Marzrui, 1997:15).
Irrespective of these hardships, Africa has to live in a global village in which she must compete (Marah, 1998). In the face of NAFTA, Greater Europe, China and Hong Kong, Africa must embrace Pan-Africanism as the next, ineluctable stage in African nationalism; if Africa is to be strong and powerful, that next African nationalism must institutionalize Pan-African Educational Institutions throughout the continent.
8) Pan-African Education: A Modest Proposal
Blyden (1971), Hayford (1969), and James Africanus Horton (1969) have all suggested Pan-African education since the mid-1800s and the early 1900s. Both Blyden and Horton desired Fourah Bay College, founded in 1827 in Sierra Leone, to be 'The West African University'. Blyden opined that a West African University would cater to the peculiar needs of the African personality. This did not mean that Africans would not adopt international standards or should avoid the classics derived from other cultures or peoples; but these should not be at the expense of the African mind.
The education that the African receives should be one that did not "confuse the instincts of (the) race and diminish the proper manhood of the Negro ... "(Blyden, 1971: 223). According to Blyden, Africans educated abroad are (often) "obliged to shape (their) feelings in accordance with the prevailing tastes around (them)."
And therefore, wherever you find him educated
in the schools abroad, you are apt to find
a man of distorted tastes, confused perceptions
and defective and restless energy. Only
here and there a man rises up in whom the race
feeling is not destroyed; and such a man,
being so different from those around him, becomes
a target of the assaults of his own
people and of the unsympathizing strangers among
whom he dwells; and he must consider
himself fortunate if he does not go
down to a premature grave, hastened thither
by sheer grief and disappointment.(223)
Educated in his own environment, however, the African's sentiments and instincts will be more properly shaped, and he will be more proud to belong to the Negro race, which he will uplift and advance to greater heights. Take the Jews for an example:
It is this strong race feeling-this pride of
race-having been instilled in the mind of the Jew
from his earliest infancy, which has given
to that peculiar people their unquenchable
vitality. Notwithstanding all the afflictions and
proscriptions which barbarism and
fanaticism can bring to bear upon them,
whether in Roumania or Algeria, they still
flourish, multiply and grow rich and influential.
This undying elasticity is owing in great
measure to the unrelaxing pertinacity with which
they cling to the traditions of their race
African people, scattered abroad, in white societies, are educated to 'depreciate' themselves; their skin color, the 'opposite' to that of the ruling race, is ridiculed and devalued, and they therefore aspire to be what they 'cannot' be. Africans must therefore be educated in their own environments, even as they learn from other cultures and historical periods of outlandish races, classics, sciences, and mathematics.
James Africanus Horton (1868: 183-184) was also explicit:
We want a university for Western Africa ...
Fourah Bay College should henceforth be
made the University of Western Africa, and
endowed by the Local Government, which
should guarantee its privileges, and
cherish the interests of literature and science in the
Colony. A systematic course of instruction
should be given to the students, and regius
professors appointed; for it is high time to
abolish that system of Lancastrian schoolboy
teaching, and a professor should be appointed
to one or two subjects, and should give
lectures on the results of extensive reading
and research. The subjects will be better
mastered by the teachers themselves, and
they would reap largely the benefit. Lectures
should be given in the theory and practice of
education, classics, mathematics, natural
philosophy, mensuration, and bookkeeping;
English language and literature; French,
German, Hebrew, history in general,
mineralogy, physiology, zoology, botany,
chemistry, moral and political philosophy,
civil and commercial law, drawing and music,
besides the various subjects which might be
included under the term of theology. But the
study of physical sciences, which are closely
connected with our daily wants and
conveniences, should form an essential
part of the curriculum, as they cultivate the
reasoning faculties. Algebra, arithmetic,
differential calculus, trigonometry, and
geometry, besides being useful in everyday
life, remedy and cure many defects in the wit
and intellectual faculties.
If BIyden and Horton were concerned mostly with Western Africa, Casely Hayford (1969: 207) and Nnamdi Azikiwe (1968) expanded the idea of Pan-African education to include the African continent and the entire Negro race. In 1963, the then Emperor Haile Selassie continued with the tradition by advocating for a Pan-African University that should be attended by continental Africans; he states:
In no small measure, the handicaps under which we labour derive from the low educational level attained by our people and from their lack of knowledge of their fellow Africans. Education abroad is at best an unsatisfactory substitute for education at home. A massive effort must be launched in the educational and cultural field that will not only raise the level of literacy and provide a cadre of skilled and trained technicians requisite to our growth and development but, as well, acquaint us one with another...Serious consideration should be given to the establishment of an African University sponsored by all African states, where future leaders of Africa will be trained in an atmosphere of continental brotherhood.
In this African institution, the supranational aspects of life would be emphasized and study would be directed toward the ultimate goal of complete African unity. (Selassie, 1963: 287-288)
Because Emperor Haile Selassie's Pan-African University did not materialize by the 1990s, Marah (1989: 255-302) continues the tradition of advocating for a Pan-African University by insisting that, that Pan-African university be established in Central Africa so that it symbolically and physically represents a centripetal force, 'accessible' to all Africans from any direction within this global village.
Therefore, the twenty-first century Pan-African education is a continuation of the great concerns of our African ancestors desirous of seeing that their motherland becomes an integral part of this global village, no longer as hewers of wood and drawers of water for the other world populations. To accomplish this feat, African people cannot 'continue' to rely on The International Monetary Fund (IMF), The World Bank, or the Paris Club for our own salvation and perpetuation. We must, in addition to having one currency, a common citizenship, and a 'common' economic plan (Nkrumah, 1970), we lso have to have common educational institutions that perpetuate common aphorisms, sentiments, concepts, ideas, visions, aims, and a common national character, what, indeed, professor Molefi Asante has termed a 'collective cognitive imperative'(Asante, 1981: 75-82).
The attainment of this 'Collective Cognitive Imperative' goes beyond the mere exchange of ideas, students, professors, lecture series, seminars, and other academic forums; this calls for curriculum changes and adaptations that enhance Pan-African development, economically, politically, culturally, etc.
As we look at the other world regions (around the globe), we cannot help but see regional integrations as the zeitgeist. Africa will too have to integrate its economies, people, currencies, political and educational institutions. The Pan-African education we advocate here will include:
(1) the establishment of a Pan-African university as suggested by Haile Selassie in 1963; (2) that the Pan-African university be established at Bangui in the Central African Republic; (3) French and English be the language of instruction in the Pan-African university; (4) that the Pan- African University be a model for other African national universities in terms of the recruitment of staff, student body and other school personnel; (5) that African educational institutions build intensive language institutes where French speakers can learn English within a short period of time and English speakers French; (6) that Africans be trained and educated to be citizens of Africa: (7) that Africans be trained and educated to the economic, social, political, cultural and international realities of Africans and the African continent; (8) that African schools, especially at the levels of higher learning, establish departments of Black American Studies, Caribbean Studies, Latin American Studies, West European Studies, North American Studies, Asian Studies, East European Studies, and (9) that these various departments be conducted with a Pan-African perspective. The curriculum in Pan-African education will be Pan-African centered, not European or narrowly nationalistic-centered.(Marah, 1989: 259)
As it could be deduced from the above ten suggestions, Pan-African education is not isolationist but inclusive of ideas, regions, and peoples desirous of seeing Africa and African people as men and women, boys and girls, who must look at everything from their own point of view, which is as valid as those of the Chinese, Europeans, Americans, Indians, South Americans, and other groups of people across the globe.
Everyone is now invited to join this great conversation about Pan-African education in the twenty-first Century, even if to disagree, criticize, or suggest better ways to educate African people progressively, actively, and positively, where African people do not have to be carbon copies of their oppressors, Westerners or Northerners, Marxists, Republicans, or Democrats, but where they can be themselves whenever and wherever.
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John K. Marah, Ed.D.
African and African American
Studies Department SUNY College, Brockport, New York