To understand the value of a blackboard can only be fathomed when you see the consequences of the life of an illiterate. Excuse the blunt perspective; it serves to awaken you the reader. Education is not only numbers and grammar but self awareness and thinking beyond self. If by anything, Africa was long educated before the colonialists arrived. Or so we think. School is an environment of learning that is not confined to the classroom but rather a line of thought. I have come to understand this in my latter years the hard way that my teachers were not wrong in what they taught me but were rather to supplement on the knowledge that I should have gained from the “real” school. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him a lifetime”, this scripture from the Bible clearly illustrates the paradox of studying in Ugandan schools and on the African continent at large. The epitome of African culture as envisioned by our ancestors has long been one of self sustenance, innovation, discipline and mental growth. As seen by the prophet Hezekiah in the biblical times, Uganda in the same way through its norms as most of African culture has nurtured its children to grow up with a mind that think independently. This line of thought has been lost along the way as our parents have traded the value of thinking for the comfort of convenience. Home has always been the real school. The character and mind of a child is natured in this environment. It is meant to shape them towards maneuvering challenges, overcoming prejudices and thinking beyond self.
Even the European systems of education that Africa is largely operating in currently were shaped on values rather than mediocrity. I tend to hear people complain that Uganda’s education system is heavily theoretical and not practical. Since when did you need to make changes within your community by learning it from a book? Are you eyes blind to the opportunities that surround you or is it that our heads are too heavy to think that building in swamp will cause floods? Do you need to study environmental science to know the outcomes of such practices? Does that mean to say that before European civilization, African’s did not know anything about personal hygiene, the economics of buying and selling, the importance of boiling drinking water, how to treat a stomach ache or the meaning of a balanced diet ? The education system that has natured me was only meant to add onto knowledge that our homes had already instilled upon us. To propel us broaden our minds beyond the home and think about the world. To not think of survival and simplicity as African culture has taught us, but to think of dressing up instead of being naked and to “question” God instead of dwelling on sacrifices.
It is our parents that have betrayed us, even our ancestors must be loathing from the heavens of how we swapped our minds to only fight for desk jobs. Only for us to remind them by repeating their flaws of how our forefathers betrayed Africa and sold its sons and daughters to fuel the European machine of “education” just to enjoy the “marvel” of looking into a shinny mirror or wearing a leather shoe. So no, I will not blame the school. I have been betrayed by my parents as my forefathers betrayed my motherland to the European explorers. It is my parents who did not do me better.