In a series of public lecturers and column articles for the New African magazine, renowned Pan Africanist scholar, Professor Mammo Muchie posited that today, more than ever, Africans need not look back in order to go forward.
He rhetorically asked, " what do Africans see when they look back?' They are often overwhelmed by seeing mainly the destructive 500 years of the dehumanising African experience. Prof Muchie avers that they rarely acknowledge, appreciate, recognise and promote the positive and constructive African knowledge heritage and contribution that the African ancestors created before the period of destruction.
The learned researcher laments the current education system that hardly recognises that this rich knowledge, and science and technology heritage ever existed. He asserts that it is about time to appreciate this positive heritage or data and include it systematically in the curriculum of African schools. It is disheartening to realise that the demand to change education policy in Africa often receives a lukewarm reception. According to Muchie this closed approach has to change in order to include African knowledge heritage to design new models that prevent dependence and encourage creativity and innovation by African learners. The negative narrative emanating from the destructive period should be changed.
I fully agree with Prof Muchie that it is thus essential that knowledge production is built on the foundation and values that Africans have left behind. I believe that, though it is long overdue, it is about time Africans must hurry to reclaim the positive and constructive heritage, to anchor the African education system on the following four foundations that Prof Muchie recommended. Firstly, he mentions that the constructive and positive heritage must be resurrected and serve to educate and wean generations of Africans, starting from children from kindergarten and going up to the tertiary level. Muchie says the negative destructive period must be taught with full appreciation of the positive data so that the legacy of colonialism, imperialism, apartheid, neo- colonialism and all the varieties of oppression no longer affect Africans, from the way they think, to the way they look and work. African learners must go beyond it and fully become Africans with pride, dignity, self-reliance, self-confidence, freedom and interdependence. Furthermore, Muchie calls for the African future that should be built both with the imagination and with knowledge of the constructive history and heritage left behind by the ancestors, and also by learning and overcoming the remaining risks and dangers from the legacy of the destructive period. This is the future made by appreciating and learning from the constructive and destructive African history and heritage. The Pan African education system must capture critically both the heritage and the future. Finally and most importantly, Prof Muchie mentions that Ethiopianism, Pan Africanism and African Renaissance, as three in one together, must provide the foundation and defining Meta -narrative for rethinking, re-designing and re-engineering the whole African education system. This is absolutely true because as Africans we must find ways of using all the learning materials and languages, so that we deliver education from the human, natural, and social sciences both on physical and online platforms. Ways must be found to promote the Pan African education system across the world without excluding anyone by making sure all are encouraged, invited and welcomed.
The reason why we must resurrect the positive heritage, history, and data according to Muchie is that the African past contains rich sources
Prof Muchie gives some examples that carbon steel was made 2,000 years ago in Tanzania: astronomical observations by the Dogons in Mali have been acknowledged by those scholars such as Carl Sagan of Cornel University: language, mathematical systems, architecture, agriculture, cattle rearing, navigation of inland waterways and open seas, medicine and communication, writing systems- in all these fields Africans have been inventors. The negative narrative that Africans have not been inventors must be rejected. There were also African fractals in West and Central Africa, which Muchie says has been demonstrated by repeating geometric patterns on various scales that have been used in textiles, paintings, sculpture, cosmologies, architecture, town planning. Today fractals are the basis of the World Wide Web. In Ethiopia and among the Yorubas of Nigeria, the mathematics that applies binary logic has been used both for computation and Meta physics, boasts Prof Muchie. The Ethiopian method of mathematical calculation was released publicly by BBC4 with commentary by scholars from UK's Open University. This ancient mathematics from Ethiopia, according to Prof Muchie's analysis, demonstrated that Africans used binary logic of mathematical calculation which is similar to what is behind today's internet explorer and other computer -based systems.
According to Prof Muchie, African knowledge in agriculture is rich as this has been recognised and acknowledged fully by the US Academy of Science in 1996. The academy agrees that Africa has more native cereals than any other continent, has its own species of rice, as well as finger millet, and several dozen wild cereals whose grains are eaten. This is a food heritage, Muchie avers, that has fed people for generations, possibly stretching back to the origins of humankind.
From this I can safely say indeed Africa had a rich past before the destruction and the dehumanisation of Africans. It is high time that the positive past is resurrected. The more Africans learn to unite and stand up together, the more there will be the opportunity for Africans to resurrect the positive data for constructive transformation. Africa must reject epistemological marginalisation and overcome strongly the Africa failure narrative. It is important to recognise that they can be able to do so only if they are to re-engineer the entire education system on a Pan African and African renaissance foundation. Then the Africa that the imperial- colonial builders rejected will become the cornerstone of the arch for new humanity and civilisation.
*Solly Rakgomo is a graduate student of international relations.