Somalilandsun – Let me start by putting things a bit into perspective…
Today in Africa, there’s still the naïve idea that in order to be educated properly someone needs to acquire or import his/her knowledge from the West. And for African Muslims, this might involve a double importation – that, in order to be properly educated islamically, someone needs to acquire or import his/her knowledge from the Muslim majority countries, especially the Arab ones! This importing of Western and Arab-Islamic knowledge has been going on since time immemorial and its effect and impact on the African mind needs to be critically assessed. We contend that most of this imported Western and Arab-Islamic knowledge has NOT been useful in yielding any intellectual and scientific progress or furthering the already existing indigenous intellectual activities within African society and has in fact caused to arise within our societies certain problems which we are having difficulties to cope with.
What I mean by ‘Western education’ also includes the entire education system and knowledge economy brought into Africa through colonialism and which has been perpetuated by our Westernized elites. For Coloni¬alism involved more than just the conquering of physical space. More importantly it involved the conquest of indigenous ‘epistemological space’. This involved the dis¬mantling of indigenous thought systems, hence disempowering them of their ability to define things, and subsequently replacing them with a foreign one through a systematic application of a series of colonial ‘investigative modalities’. An investigative modality includes the definition of a body of informa¬tion that is needed, the procedures by which appropriate knowledge is gathered, its ordering and classification, and then how it is transformed into usable forms. It’s this infusion of alien concepts in the minds of Africans which has been causing havoc in the mentalities and personalities of Africans.
No one with a keen sense of observation would fail agree with us that the Westernized education systems we inherited from the West have failed to produce “good human beings” in Africa – as is evidenced by the bunch of greedy criminals now plundering what remains of our African economies, most of whom hold the highest and most prestigious degrees available in our Westernized education systems.
We venture to say that the greatest challenge facing Africa today, is the challenge of knowledge, indeed, not knowledge as against ignorance; but knowledge as conceived and disseminated throughout the continent and the world by Westernized education systems; knowledge whose nature has become problematic because it has lost its true purpose due to being unjustly conceived, and has thus brought about chaos in human life instead of, and rather than, peace and justice; knowledge which pretends to be real but which is productive of confusion and corruption; knowledge which has brought chaos to the Three Kingdoms of Nature; the animal, vegetal and mineral. Knowledge which has caused loss of discipline to the African personality – the discipline of body, mind, and soul; the discipline that assures the recognition and acknowledgement of one’s proper place in relation to one’s self, society and Society; the recognition and acknowledgement of one’s proper place in relation to one’s physical, intellectual, and spiritual capacities and potentials.
This loss of discipline implies loss of justice, which in turn betrays confusion in knowledge. In terms of society, the confusion in knowledge creates the condition which enables false leaders to emerge and to thrive, causing the condition of injustice. They perpetuate this condition since it ensures the continued emergence of leaders like them to replace them after they are gone, perpetuating their domination over the affairs of African society.
Thus, to put things briefly and in proper order, Africa’s current general dilemma is caused by:
1. Confusion and error in knowledge, creating the condition for:
2. The loss of discipline within society. The condition arising out of (1) and (2) is:
3. The rise of leaders who are NOT qualified for valid leadership in society, who do not possess the high moral, intellectual and spiritual standards required for leadership, who perpetuate the condition in (1) above and ensure the continued control of the affairs of society by leaders like them who dominate in all fields.
The above roots of our general dilemma are interdependent and operate in a vicious circle. But the chief cause is confusion and error in knowledge, and in order to break this vicious circle and remedy this serious problem, we must first come to grips with the problem of loss of discipline, since no true knowledge can be instilled without the precondition of discipline in the one who seeks it and to whom it is imparted. It must be emphasized, that the West here is discerned as the external source and cause, in esse and in passe, of the problems that beset us today.
“Westernized Knowledge” and its products have caused so much of the damage we’re seeing in Africa today. Thus, if this is properly understood, then, a “de-Westernization of Knowledge project” is what the ‘knuckleheads’ of Boko Haram are calling for – though Boko Haram itself happens to be a problem of the importation of Salafist Arab-Islamic knowledge into Africa gone wrong. We as African Muslims abhor Boko Haram’s bestial methods, but we nevertheless partially admit that the point they are trying to make is quite a valid one!
The author Imran Jumah is a Lecturer, at ADMAS University College – Hargeisa…
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