Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said the study of history that has just been returned to the curriculum of primary and secondary schools should be used for nation building and not divisive tendencies.
He spoke to journalists at the sideline of an international conference in memory of an erudite historian, the late emeritus Prof Jacob.F. Ade Ajayi, with the theme: ‘African History and Historiography: Illumining the Pathways and Understanding the Challenges” at the Otunba Subomi Balogun Conference Centre, UI, Ibadan.
It was organised by the Department of History, University of Ibadan under the leadership of Prof. Olutayo Adesina, in conjunction with the J.F.Ade Ajayi Foundation.
Fayemi, who was the special guest of honour said: “It is when you learn about your past that you can inform you present, and your future of the trajectory and how you fit into that entire world view.
“The lesson of history and the lesson of the Ade Ajayi’s era is that they confronted the circumstances of their era with creativity and innovation. The colonialists said Africa had no history. Ade Ajayi and his colleagues – the generation of scholars that emerged in the post-world war era, said we have a history and we have had traditional political formations way way before the colonialists came here.”
Fayemi, however, asked questions on how the country has not harnessed the potentials of history to engender national unity and development of the nation, saying: “How are we reacting to the developments in the contemporary times? How are we challenging a world view that still says we heirs of woods and drawers of water today?
“How is our politics responding to dominant tendencies of the world? Be it American or Chinese or others. In those places, history is very central to everything they’re doing. That is why when you hear an American President talks about the American Dream and ‘In God We Trust,’ he is referring to a generation of history. Way back to George Washington to Abraham Lincoln, to all the successive leaders, who have paved the path to where they are today. Did we regard Ade Ajayi as an exemplar in that regard? Do people in government regard history as important when they cancelled history from the curriculum of our basic and secondary education?”
Vice Chancellor, UI, Prof Olayinka, also said history is about national development.
“You have to look at your past. What were you doing right that time? Then, the present, as a basis of projecting into the future. The present is the key to the future. So, you have to look at your past, the present and the future. I think history is very central to this. That is why we are happy that the study of history has been brought to the curriculum for the basic and secondary school levels…
“We said Lord Lugard created Nigeria. But our people have been trading. They have been selling their goods. They have been farming. People were going from Ibadan to Kano, even before the Europeans came. The essence is that the Europeans should not be the people to write our history. We should be able to situate our own history as part of entire world history. It has to be centred around our people, our culture, and our language.
Prof. Adesina, noted that now that history is coming back, we have to be aware of the generation we are dealing with, the temperament of that generation, the mission of that generation as well as the mission of the country itself.
“We must articulate and aggregate all these. If we don’t, history will remain one of the useless subjects that students learn. Now, we have to carefully identify the topics to be taught, and those topics to be taught must be in tandem with the mission and direction of the country. Why teach a topic or subject that doesn’t make any meaning or that does not have any meaning for the country? So, the government must consult widely to be able to work on the new curriculum.”