Felix Ikem, Nsukka
Prof. Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni of University of South Africa has said that African knowledge is the best solution to solve African problems.
Gatsheni said this, in Nsukka, on Tuesday, during the 1st international conference of Africanity Scholars Network (AFRISCON) at University of Nigeria, Nsukka titled ‘Knowledge Loss, Bondage and Regrets in Post-contact Society’.
He urged Africans to begin to take African knowledge more serious as Western knowledge and culture currently in use in Africa were no longer relevant to solve numerous problems facing the continent.
“The loss of African knowledge and over dependence on western knowledge is one of the factors responsible for Africa under-development.
“How will the continent have quality education that will drive rapid development, science and technology when educational books are written in English language which is foreign instead of indigenous African languages our children will easily understand,” he said.
The University Don urged governments in Africa to restore African knowledge and culture by reviewing education curriculum to ensure that books used in schools were written in indigenous African languages.
“Chinese and Japanese are leading in science and technology because they are using their languages to write their school textbooks as well as teaching and learning.
“It’s unfortunate that in some places in Africa, some children will not be able to speak their mother tongue for one minute but can speak English language non stop for twenty four hours.
“If the present loss of knowledge continues the future prospect of Africa may be bleak as language and cultural heritage of Africa will become extinct in the next two decades, ” he said.
In a remark, Bishop Godfrey Onah of Nsukka Catholic Diocese said Africans should upheld the good culture and shun those that were fetish and against humanity.
According to Onah, “Africans should embrace good culture from their forefathers but fetish ones that has no respect for human dignity should be discarded.
“Jesus died on the cross of Calvary to secure freedom and liberty for all who believe in his name so that nobody will still be on the bondage of evil culture and traditions.”
Also speaking, a popular Nollywood actress, Mrs. Mercy Johnson-Okojie, advised Africans to embrace technology as well as retain good African knowledge that would help move the continent forward.
“We should take what is good from African knowledge and western education but what I don’t agree is for us to go back to primitive life like our forefathers.
“Parents should teach their children their native language as that is their own pride and identity,” she said .
Earlier in a remark, Prof. Damian Opata, of the Department of English, University of Nigeria Nsukka, who is President of the AFRICON, said the network was registered as a nongovernmental organisation.
Opata said the major aim of the network was to critically examine conditions of knowledge production, dissemination in Africa and it had affected the development of the continent.
“We want to evaluate Africa’s present predicaments and reshape its future,
“Also to discover not only when the rain started beating Africans, but to know when the originating rain clouds percolated into rain and washed away our shore.
“We want to find out why we have our eyes open and still allow our minds to be carted away in broad daylight by western knowledge and culture,” he said.
Prof. Opata explained that the issue was no longer the regret and lamentation over Africa loss of knowledge but what would be done to move the continent forward
“It is about what we must do to march forward by creating and manning our own space in order to engender new foundational imaginaries of our common futures.
“To interrogate knowledge loss, bondage and regrets in post-contact societies that’s why participants are drawn from the academia, custodians of culture, religious bodies, and experts from various fields,” he said.
The Professor of English said the conference would analyse the dynamics of the predicaments of various societies in the Global South and came up with suggestions that would salvage the situation both in the short term and long run.
“We want to know the disconnect between current academic research in the Global South and the use of application of indigenous constructs therein,
“The network is concerned on unhealthy grandstanding of Europe and North America as people whose ideas should be upheld as the universal,” he said.
Opata said the network had seen crisis of state in Africa as a major factor which impedes development in the Global South, especially as this affects the educational and knowledge production sectors in Africa.
The conference was attended by eminent scholars from various disciplines from Nigeria, Malawi, Zimbabwe, United State of America South Africa, Germany, and Morocco.